RW Insurance Agency Blog

The New Year is the Best Time to Review Your Insurance Policies

The end of the year and the start of a new one is a great time to review all of your insurance policies and make sure that everything is up-to-date. An annual insurance review with your RW Insurance agent is the best way to make sure your auto insurance, home insurance and any other policies that you have continue to meet your changing needs and lifestyle. We will proactively re-assess your needs, update existing policies or add endorsements where necessary and further customize policies as needed. We can also review your policy limits and deductibles, discuss alternative billing options, and make sure that you are maximizing your discounts and savings opportunities.

In order to adequately review your policies, we will ask questions that get to the heart of your lifestyle and personal and financial circumstances. Before your insurance review, consider how you might answer the following questions:

  • Have you made or do you plan to make substantial renovations to the interior or exterior of your home?
  • Are you planning to sell, move to, purchase or rent additional residential properties?
  • Have you added a new security system to your home?
  • Do you have a need for flood insurance or sewer backup coverage?
  • Have you purchased or are you planning to purchase a new vehicle?
  • Will there be any new drivers in your household?
  • Has the amount of miles you drive changed significantly?
  • Have your personal assets increased significantly?
  • Have you started a home-based business?
  • Have you installed a pool or other recreational structure on your property?
  • Have you purchased any valuable pieces of jewelry, art or antiques?
  • Do you have an extensive wine collection?
  • Have you made any major lifestyle changes such as marriage, divorce, retirement or birth or adoption of a child?
  • Have you changed the ownership structure on your property?
  • Have you purchased a boat, motorcycle, RV, aircraft or other recreational vehicle?
  • Have you considered your need for identity theft protection?

Don’t wait until you have a loss to find out that your coverage is not what you expected. Contact your RW Insurance agent today to set up an appointment for a complete insurance review.

Five Tips for a Successful Open Enrollment

It’s that time of year again! Employee benefits open enrollment is upon us. What can employers do to make this year’s open enrollment a success in every way? How can you better engage your employees to ensure that they are making informed choices and are satisfied with the process? Consider these five tips for a successful open enrollment.

  1. Communication is key.

Communication is the most important element of a successful open enrollment. It is never too early to start communicating with your employees about open enrollment and what is required of them. Think about it: open enrollment comes at the busiest time of the year for most people. The more and better information that they have up front will yield more engaged employees and a more successful event. Communicate plan changes, cost changes, dates and deadlines early and often. Use videos, meetings, webinars, and print materials so everyone has an opportunity to view and absorb the information with plenty of time to make decisions and enroll in a timely manner. Consider inviting spouses to any benefits meetings, and even offer one-on-one meetings if necessary to provide extra assistance to anyone who needs it. Provide ample ways for employees to get their questions answered, from phone numbers to websites, contact persons, meetings, and more.

  1. Talk about health care reform.

Most people are still confused about health care reform. Don’t forget to discuss what, if anything is required of your employees because of the Affordable Care Act. Also, be sure to explain how it has influenced any benefits or eligibility changes, or how it impacts the portion of premiums that employees are required to pay. The law is complicated and has changed frequently. Stay up-to-date on the most recent information and share it in an honest and uncomplicated manner.

  1. Require active enrollment.

Passive enrollment basically allows employees to roll over their elections from one year to the next. It may seem easier, but it also severely limits employee engagement and a true understanding of their benefit options. Employees, too, may be happy to take the easy way out, so requiring active enrollment is the best way to ensure that employees review the information and make the best selections every year.

  1. Offer a variety of support tools.

Employees will likely need help choosing the best benefits for their families. Offer decision support tools like plan comparison tools, calculators, and provider information to allow employees to make well-informed choices.

  1. Ask for help.

If you need assistance with employee communication materials, decision support tools and other resources, we can help. We will work closely with you to find the best plan options for your employees, and will help you through the open enrollment process to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Are you ready for open enrollment? What other tips can you offer to ensure a successful open enrollment period?

What You Need to Know About ObamaCare

Despite the seemingly nonstop conversation about national health care reform for the past several years, consumers remain confused and filled with questions. The complexity of the reforms is complicated even further when you add in the changes at the state level in New Hampshire. Here are some things you need to know to alleviate some of that confusion, but you should also know that RW agents provide free professional assistance in identifying your health insurance needs. We can help find you a number of quotes from a variety of providers, ensuring the policy you choose offers the best coverage at the most affordable rates.

All NH residents must have health insurance, unless they qualify for an exemption. Open enrollment for 2014 has ended, but you may still be able to get coverage if you qualify for a special enrollment period. If you don’t, you must wait until the next open enrollment period to sign up for coverage. For coverage beginning in 2015, open enrollment is scheduled to run from Nov. 15, 2014 to Feb. 15, 2015.

The cost of an Affordable Care Act plan offered on the exchange depends on several factors, including: the level of coverage you need; whether you qualify for a subsidy; your New Hampshire location; your age; and whether you smoke.

Some coverage offered through New Hampshire approved health plans may not be available in other states. NH mandates a number of benefits, such as coverage of children during adoption proceedings and 12 self-referred chiropractic care visits, for all plans sold in the state.

If you purchased a health insurance plan through the New Hampshire marketplace last year, you will be re-enrolled automatically unless you take action. Automatic enrollment may sound like a breeze compared to the long waiting periods and problematic online system, but it may include unpleasant surprises such as an increase in premiums, subsidy loss and changes to coverage.

If navigating an online exchange rife with delays and breakdowns, trying to get through to an actual person on the marketplace telephone lines, or waiting to find out if your current plan changes in significant ways all sound like choices that make your blood pressure rise, there is an alternative.

We are always available to answer any questions about health insurance you may have; it won’t cost you a thing and won’t need to wait on hold for three hours before speaking to a representative. Contact us today to save time, money and headache in choosing the right health insurance plan for you and your family.

Do You Know What’s Changing with New Hampshire Health Insurance?

You can’t turn on the television, pick up a paper or casually glance at billboards lining the Central Turnpike without hearing about the numerous changes to health insurance coverage in New Hampshire. Despite the constant barrage of marketing, public service announcements and advertising, many people are still unclear of how recent reforms will affect their health insurance coverage in the Granite State.

Health insurance mandates; Critical reforms; What does it all mean? Besides the changes at the federal level, New Hampshire has instituted its own set of reforms. Keeping track of these rapid-fire alterations to something as important as health insurance could be a full time job. Unless, of course, you have the time and medical knowledge to sort through the state’s 118-page set of revisions?

Did you know health care insurance providers in New Hampshire must cover a whole slew of treatments and procedures, including bariatric surgery? Did you know divorced couples in the state are finding out they must continue coverage for their ex spouse? Were you aware the so-called “exchange” in New Hampshire only includes health care policies from a single insurance provider?

Is it better to have a high deductible and more coverage or a lower deductible with fewer coverage options? Who must you cover in your household? Is your current plan incompliance with state and federal mandates?

The questions facing consumers who have access to health insurance through their workplace are numerous. Those who must venture out on their own through New Hampshire’s health insurance exchange don’t even know where to begin. Thankfully, there is help.

Knowledgeable, independent agents at RW Insurance are always available to answer any questions you may have about the changes to health insurance in New Hampshire. Our experienced agents can help identify your health care needs, suggest coverage options, and assist you in filing a claim. RW Insurance agents are able to locate you a number of policies with varying degrees of coverage from a variety of providers, ensuring the quotes you see will offer the best coverage at the most affordable rates. Take the confusion out of health insurance shopping and contact us to assist you in finding the perfect health insurance policy that meets your needs and budget.

What You Need to Know About Your Medicare

Your window of opportunity to begin or make changes to your Medicare plan opens October 15 and closes December 7, 2014. Is it time to update your medical coverage? Have you turned 65 this year and are eligible for the first time? What do you need to know to begin coverage or make changes to an existing policy?

For Medicare Advantage enrollees and those thinking about adding this coverage, those changes could range from minor to major. Medicare Advantage is a type of Medicare health plan purchased through a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide Part A and Part B benefits. Being enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan means your Medicare services are covered and paid for outside of traditional Medicare. Most Medicare Advantage plans also offer prescription drug coverage.

By now, you may have already received notification from your Medicare prescription drug and Advantage plans of any changes that will take place in the coming year. All companies must distribute Annual Notifications of Change by the end of September. You should look for changes especially to the co-pays for prescriptions and doctor visits as well as outpatient services. There could also be a change in out of pocket maximum limits. Besides changes in price, you may also experience a change in providers if the doctor you usually visit no longer accepts your specific plan.

Now is the time to review your coverage and consider any changes that should be made. It’s also the perfect time to compare your Medicare Advantage policy to others available to ensure you’re enrolled for the best available. Before you decide on any changes, however, it is recommended that you speak with an agent who can help determine your health insurance needs.

Knowledgeable, independent agents at RW Insurance are always available to sit down and answer any questions you may have about Medicare Advantage and any changes to your policy. We can also help you compare your plan to others available to ensure the one you choose offers the best coverage at the most affordable rates. Contact us to help you through this open enrollment season.

How Will Your College Student Affect Your Insurance?

College bound students are gearing up for their first or another semester at their university or technical school. As they pack and ready themselves for a new adventure, parents are wondering how the transition will affect various insurance policies.

Many parents do not realize their homeowner insurance policy can help protect their son and daughter – even far from home. Most standard home insurance covers belongings a college student takes with them to the dorm. This coverage is usually limited to a percentage of your total insurance policy, but for most households the limit is sufficient to cover those computers, cell phones, TVs and other electronic devices young adults these days cannot live without. Some colleges may try to sell students and their parents additional protection under the institution. These policies may be redundant to your homeowner insurance. Be sure to check the details of your policy before making a decision.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments across the country respond to an average of 4,000 fires at dormitory, fraternity and sorority living quarters every year. Damages from these fires are estimated to total nearly $10 million. The FBI asserts thousands of incidents of theft and damage to property occur on college campuses each year as well. It is extremely important to protect any property your son or daughter plans to take with them to college.

Car insurance is another consideration facing many parents of college bound students. If your child plans on taking the car with them to school, be sure to notify your insurance provider of the change in address. It may increase or decrease your premiums, depending on the crime statistics of the school’s location. If public transportation will be taking them to and from classes, you can remove the child from your auto insurance policy or reduce them to an occasional driver. In either case, remind them that earning stellar grades can help you – or them – save on those premiums.

As you review your insurance needs for your college student, be sure to contact one of our knowledgeable agents. We can help identify any changes you should make, suggest coverage options, and assist you in comparing a number of quotes from a variety of providers. Contact us to help you find insurance policies with the best protection at the most affordable rates.

Top Tips for Buying a New Car

Buying a new car can be exciting and stressful. The best thing you can do is to arm yourself with as much information as possible before you head out to a dealership. And don’t be afraid to visit multiple dealerships to make sure you are getting the best deal—and the best service! Consider the following advice for buying a new car:

  • Do your homework before you visit a dealership. Narrow down your choices of makes and models by using the Internet to find out dealer’s costs, options, and special pricing. Choose the vehicle that is right for you and that fits the requirements that you have laid out in advance.
  • Find out how much your current car is worth. Consider selling it directly instead of trading it in to a dealership. Either way, knowing what you can get for it will help you set your budget for your new vehicle.
  • After you set your budget, stick to it! Don’t get set on a car you can’t afford either. Be realistic about your budget, and be sure to include more than your monthly payment in your calculations. Take into account the cost of gas and auto insurance, as well.
  • Will you buy new or used? Will you buy or lease? If you decide on used, certified used cars offer a great value and are generally very reliable. And leasing a new car can be a great alternative for certain people, but if you put a lot of miles on your car or plan to keep it for the long haul, it’s probably not the best option for you. If you do decide to lease, know the jargon and how to negotiate a favorable lease before you ever walk into the dealership.
  • When it’s time to visit some reputable dealerships, take a serious test drive of the vehicles that you are interested in. Take a good amount of time to drive the vehicle in various situations (city streets, highways, etc.), and be sure that you are comfortable driving the vehicle. In addition, it should have suitable passenger and cargo room for your needs. Give some thought as to whether or not the vehicle will still suit your needs in five years.
  • Get pre-approved or your auto loan. Look around and don’t head to the dealership without knowing where you can get the best rate. Local credit unions often offer great auto loan rates for everyone, not just their members.
  • Find out the invoice price of the car you want. The invoice price is a good indication of what the dealer paid for the car, giving you a starting point for your negotiations. When you’ve agreed on a price, don’t be tempted by meaningless add-ons in the finance office.

And remember, you need to call us as soon as you’ve taken ownership of your new car! The new vehicle must be added to your auto insurance policy. Even better, the new vehicle might have safety features that can make you eligible for discounts and premium savings.

What are some of your experiences with buying a new car? Did your new car affect your insurance rates?

5 Tips for Purchasing a Boat, RV or Motorcycle

Summer recreational vehicles like boats, RVs and motorcycles provide hours of fun and excitement for the whole family. But before you take the plunge and invest in one of your own, consider these five purchasing tips.

  1. Choose the right model. Whether it’s a boat, RV or motorcycle, you need to do your homework and find the model that best suits your needs and your lifestyle. All of these vehicles come in numerous types, sizes and price ranges. Consider all of your options and make your choice carefully.
  2. Don’t make a rash purchase. Who wouldn’t leave the boat show or see a group of motorcycle riders on the highway without suddenly wanting to go out and get a boat or a bike of their own? Don’t give in to the temptation and make a purchase that you might regret. Along with the initial purchase price, all of these vehicles have serious maintenance and upkeep costs. You need to be fully informed and prepared for all of the additional costs and responsibilities that come with owning one. And you must be sure you’ll still enjoy owning it after the initial thrill fades.
  3. Don’t overestimate your abilities. Chances are that most first-time buyers will be somewhat unprepared for their new purchase. You must fully assess your skills and abilities as an operator, and if you decide to make a purchase, take classes to fill your skills gap and practice, practice, practice.
  4. Go for a test drive! Never buy a boat, RV or motorcycle without taking it out for a test drive. If you are not comfortable or can’t handle it, don’t buy it. Consider a different, more suitable model or look into renting for a while to make sure you are making the best choice.
  5. Protect your investment. Boating, RVing and motorcycle riding are all great ways to spend your recreation time. They are also huge investments and all of them must be protected with proper insurance. Your boat insurance, RV insurance or motorcycle insurance must protect your new vehicle, your property on board the vehicle, your passengers, and you from any potential liability issues. And don’t forget to cover the customizing equipment. Anything that’s not factory-installed may not be covered unless you request additional coverage for customizing equipment or add-ons. All those little piece of chrome that people add to their motorcycles can really add up to a lot of money. Make sure they’re covered!

Remember that bundling you boat, RV or motorcycle policy along with your auto and home insurance policies can make you eligible for certain discounts on all of your policies. In addition, taking safety classes and maintaining a good driving record will help to keep your premiums low for your auto insurance and all of your recreational vehicle policies.

Have you been thinking about buying a boat, RV or motorcycle? Do you already own one? If so, what buying tips can you share?

Summer Fun and Safety Tips for Dover Residents

As one of CNN Money’s Top 100 Places to Live, Dover has a lot to offer its residents and guests during the summer months. Whether you are heading out for boating, the beach or the pool, or you are staying home for some backyard fun, there is much to enjoy in our thriving city.

To make sure your summer fun is safe and worry-free, keep safety in mind! A little attention to safety can mean the difference between a fun and carefree summer and accidents that ruin your summer, cost you a great deal of money, or worse.

Grill Safety

Dover residents love a summer cookout as much as anyone else. Whether you live in the city or in an outlying area, grilling is a great way to cook for guests and enjoy the outdoors at the same time. But grills also present fire and burn dangers. To keep your home safe from fire and you and your guests safe from burns, do the following:

  • Keep grills on a level surface away from other structures or flammable materials.
  • Use long, heavy mitts and appropriate grilling tools to protect your hands and arms.
  • Let coals cool completely before disposing them.
  • Keep flammable liquids away from the grill.
  • Keep propane tanks well maintained and regularly check for problems with tanks, hoses and valves to avoid an explosion or propane fire.

Pool Safety

Swimming is everyone’s favorite way to keep cool and have fun when it’s hot outside. Having a pool in your yard is a great way to keep the kids busy all summer, but it also comes with a great deal of responsibility for the homeowner. Before you decide to get your own pool, you must be aware of all of the dangers and liability concerns that come with the territory. And you must take steps to be a responsible pool owner in order to keep you family and guests safe.

  • Install self-closing, self-latching gates as well as a pool alarm.
  • Make sure drains have anti-entrapment covers.
  • Never let anyone, no matter how old, swim alone.
  • Have safety and life-saving equipment nearby at all times.
  • Discourage running, and keep hazards like glass bottles, toys, and so on out of the way on the pool deck or in the yard.
  • Keep electrical devices away from the pool.

If you are going to the public pool or beach, pay attention to lifeguards and follow all safety rules and regulations.

Sun Safety

Infants, young children, the elderly and even pets are especially susceptible to heat-related illnesses. In addition, those with heart problems or other chronic diseases, people who work outside, athletes, and alcoholics and drug abusers also more easily fall victim to heat exhaustion or heatstroke. And while the heat is dangerous on its own, the risk for heat-related illnesses goes up even more when the humidity spikes, too.

Everyone needs to be careful on especially hot days. To avoid sunburn, heat exhaustion or heatstroke:

  • Always wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Be sure to reapply your sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
  • On hot days, avoid outdoor activity when the heat is most intense—between 10 am and 4 pm.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the damaging effects of the sun.
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat to keep your head and face cool and provide extra sun protection for your face, neck and shoulders.
  • If you must be outside, take drinks and breaks frequently.

Play Sets

Kids love outdoor play sets, and the convenience of having one in the backyard is unquestionable. However, if you have a backyard play set, you must take care to ensure that it is safe for your kids and their friends.

  • Regularly inspect the set for sturdiness, rot, and rusty bolts and make any necessary repairs.
  • Make sure there are no spaces or openings in which a child’s head or neck could get caught.
  • Play sets should be placed on level ground with wood chips or other soft materials underneath.

Lawn Mowers

It’s not ALL fun and games in the summer! Take special care when operating your lawn mower and other outdoor power equipment.

  • Read the operator’s manual and know how to work the controls of your specific equipment.
  • Children under age 12 should not operate a push mower, and children under age 16 should not operate a driving mower.
  • Never let children ride on your lawn mower as passengers, and keep children inside while you are cutting the grass.
  • Before you get started, clean up toys, rocks and anything else that could be become flying debris if run over by the lawn mower.
  • Never leave a running lawn mower unattended.
  • Never operate your mower in an enclosed space where carbon monoxide can collect.
  • Wear ear and eye protection while operating your lawn mower.

Food Safety

Don’t spoil your picnic or barbecue with spoiled food and upset stomachs. The easiest rule to remember about food safety is to keep hot foods hot, and cold foods cold. Use coolers with ample ice and keep them closed as much as possible. Always cook meat thoroughly according to FDA safe food temperatures. And be sure to properly clean all produce before serving or eating it.

As we approach Independence Day in one of the oldest cities in the U.S., be sure to take special care with fireworks. Using fireworks can lead to burns, scars and disfigurement, and you can just as easily injure innocent bystanders as you can yourself. First, be sure to know all of your local fireworks regulations and follow them to the letter. Then, remember that fireworks that are typically considered safe can still be dangerous. Sparklers, for example, can reach temperatures above 1,000 degrees, easily burning users and bystanders. After you have thought that through, you might decide that it is best to leave the fireworks to the professionals!

Last but not least, take a moment to review your insurance policies before summer gets into full swing. You need to make sure you are properly insured for the increased risks that accompany all of the outdoor activities. Boats, motorcycles, scooters and ATVs all need special insurance policies to protect you from the risks they involve. And your insurance company needs to know if you have a backyard trampoline or pool so they can adjust your home insurance policy and premium accordingly.

Talk to us if you have made any changes over the winter, and tell us about your plans for the summer!

How to Hire the Right Contractor for Your Home Repairs

It’s every homeowner’s nightmare: That hail storm damaged the garage; a lightning strike toppled a tree branch onto the deck; heavy snows caused part of the roof to collapse. Not only must homeowners deal with their insurance company in order to receive assistance in making repairs to their home after a storm, they must also find and hire the right contractor to return the house to its proper state. Unfortunately, during a time when folks need expertise and assistance the most, some unscrupulous contractors take advantage. How do you know if you can trust the contractor to do the job right?

It’s imperative to do some research when hiring a contractor for storm damage, or any other project. The first thing you should do is ask to see their certificate of insurance.

The following are red flags that indicate you should avoid contractors employing these methods to garner your business: contractors who offer their services unsolicited; the contractor arrives in an unmarked van; asks you to sign anything before you hire them; offers to pay your homeowners insurance deductible for discounts or other incentives; request payment before the work begins; or refuses to provide you with a written contract. A reputable contractor does not do any of these things; in fact, it is illegal for a contract to offer to pay your insurance deductible in some states.

Finally, you should always ask for a written agreement that highlights the contractor’s work and your expectations. This contract should also specify some sort of warranty for the work being completed. If the contractor refuses to guarantee their work with a warranty, you should move on to the next candidate.

It is strongly recommended to review your homeowner’s insurance policy any time you must make a claim on it. After a storm has damaged the property, many homeowners find they had significant gaps in coverage or simply a poor insurance policy. Our agents can assist you in finding and comparing several homeowners insurance quotes from a variety of providers, ensuring the policy you purchase will offer the best coverage at the most affordable rates. Don’t wait until the next major storm to protect you and your home with the best insurance available. Contact us today!