Client Highlight: Chicago Santa!

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Ho Ho Ho! We here at Region Insurance Group must have been on the good list, because we've gained the one and only Santa Claus as a client! Mike Hickey and his wife Nijole have been in the business of bringing Christmas joy to Chicago and Northwest Indiana for over 3 decades! From small family gatherings to corporate holiday events, Mr. and Mrs. Claus will make appearances and don their suits that were specially tailored in the North Pole, sing holiday carols with music provided by their North Pole boom box, and of course meet with children, naughty or nice! Learn more about Santa in our EXCLUSIVE interview below!

✦ How/why did you get into the Santa business?
I started when I was 17 yrs old... I played football in HS and the football coach lived 7 blocks away from my house. He asked me to play Santa for him & his family since his kids were getting smart and figuring out that Santa was really Daddy. He gave me his suit and I came over and sat with his kids & family on Christmas Eve and had a fun time doing so. The next week or so his wife said she would pay me $35.00 to be Santa at her sorority. I had a lot of fun performing as Santa and I learned that people would pay me to be Santa! That was my AH-HAA moment... I could make money having fun dressed up as Santa Clause. The rest, as they say, is history... I have now been performing as Santa Clause for over 35 years. 

✦ How did you meet Mrs. Clause?    
I met my wife who is Mrs. Clause in 1996 and we have been performing together since we were married in 1998.

✦ What's the best or funniest gift request you've ever received?
 Women that want boyfriends that don't cheat!

✦ Has anyone ever pulled you beard?
Kids & especially babies will inevitably pull on the beard, but I have learned to make sure that the beard is secure to my face.

✦ What's your favorite Christmas song?
My favorite Christmas song is Gene Autry's version of "Here Comes Santa Claus". You can't help being in a happy mood after listening to this classic Christmas Song.

✦What's your favorite Christmas cookie?
My favorite Christmas Cookie is Peanut Butter Nut Cluster Cookies... I am always looking for ways to increase my intake of protein 'cause there is a fairly high amount of protein in peanuts. HO HO HO!!!

Client Highlight: Thoughtful Christmas Gifts from Crete Garden Center!

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Need a thoughtful gift or some tasty stocking stuffers this Christmas? Check out some of the products our good friends over at Crete Garden Center are carrying! They're the only vendor in Illinois for McCutcheon's Products, who tout some of the the tastiest preserves, jellies and jams around. Josh Rietveld, Co-Owner along with his father, is particularly fond of the apple butter and says it's THE BOMB. They also carry products from local vendors such as Pure Honey from Zee's Bees in Chicago Heights and Hull-less Popcorn (which leaves you with more taste and less kernels than regular white and yellow kernels) from Pilot Knob Comforts, a family farm located in Oneida, IL. For the green-thumbed person in your family, they also are selling gorgeous amaryllis plants that easily grow indoors. If all of these sound good, go ahead and purchase one of their ready-made Christmas baskets or ask for them to create a custom one for you! Give them a visit!

Client Spotlight: Verduin Automotive

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We're keeping it in the family for our first client highlight! Jimmy Verduin, Tim's older brother, has always had the mind of a mechanic. Ever since he was a small child, Jimmy was fascinated with taking things apart and putting them back together. He continued on his path for mechanic greatness, working in body shops and earning a full scholarship for the trade school he attended after high school. He even has something in common with the founding CEOs of Google, Amazon, Apple and Disney: he started his own company out of his home garage! After several years of working at a couple dealerships, he went off on his own and opened his own shop in 2015. With a brilliant mind and a heart of gold, Jimmy is the most trusted mechanic in Cedar Lake (not that we're biased or anything). Oh, and keep your eye out for Isaiah, Jimmy's 4 year old son who's taking after his prodigal father!

Q & A with Jimmy

 

Jimmy, what is something you would like your clients to know?

The whole reason I got into doing this is when I was a sophomore in high school, was working at a part time job, and had my first car. There was a charging system problem where the battery would intermittently go dead, so I took it to a shop in Lansing and told the guy that's all I want fixed. So he fixed that, but he also changed all the hoses and all the belts. So I had a $350 bill which is a lot of money when you're 16. I had to pay, but I didn't ask him to do any of that work, which I could have done myself at that point. So ever since then I was like, "I'm going to learn how to do this stuff myself." And that's the thing that I'd want my customers to know; I'm never going to charge them for stuff they don't need. 

What is your dream vehicle?

A 1970 Camaro SS     (shown below) 

And for our standard Question, What is your favorite type of doughnut?

Boston Cream!

Community Highlight: Sidelined Chicago

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Happy Friday! On this day Region Insurance Group is very happy to announce a sponsorship of an organization and a young man that we find pretty inspirational: Sidelined Chicago, founded by Cade Pinalto.

We've known Cade, currently a junior at Lane Tech High School, ever since we started attending Edgewater Baptist Church in 2013. From his intelligence, passion and a charisma that allows him to connect with anyone, we've always known there has been something special about Cade. If you need more proof, just look at Sidelined, the non-profit organization that he co-founded and directs with his mother, Christine Pinalto.

Sidelined Chicago exists to reunite permanently sidelined athletes with their passions and inspire them to find a meaningful way forward through resources, connection, and mentorships. Cade, who was a dedicated athlete and basketball player, became sidelined himself during his 7th grade year. He was devestated when he was told he would no longer be able to compete in his sport. Later, when Cade reached high school, the mens varsity basketball coach offered to teach him how to coach. The experience was incredible as Cade was able to participate in his sport through another avenue. Cade was inspired to take his growth and learning through an adverse experience and share it with others, and the idea for Sidelined Chicago was born in April of 2016. 

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Sidelined Chicago has designed a local and national program to engage all permanently sidelined student athletes, regardless of their current stage of the emotional recovery process. The program is three-tiered: Social Support, Coping Resources, and Mentorship. Sidelined Chicago’s end goal is to provide permanently sidelined student athletes with mentorships that re-engage them with the sport they love through alternate avenues. These mentorship avenues include options like coaching, journalism,  photography and athletic training.


POSITIVITY         ADAPTABILITY       PERSEVERANCE

COMMUNITY     MEANINGFUL ACTION      DEVOTION

We love the core values that the organization is based on: they are all an integral part of living a meaningful life through the ups and downs of life that enable us to learn, grow and share our gifts with others. As athletes ourselves, we understand the value of sports and their formative role from childhood to adulthood as well as the passion and excitement they can bring our lives. We therefore also understand the devastation that can be experienced when it is no longer an option to participate. So we're so proud of our young friend and his determination to prove that our worth is not defined by what we can or cannot do, and that we all have a chance to make a difference in a world that so desperately needs it.

Onward, Cade!


If you are interested in learning more about this fantastic organization, participating, becoming a mentor, or even generously lending financial support, please visit their website:

www.sidelinedchicago.org

 

 

 

 

Teen Safety on Halloween

by Erie Insurance on October 24, 2017

by Erie Insurance on October 24, 2017

As teens head out and about on Halloween to have fun with their friends, they, too, need to have some important reminders about keeping themselves (and others) safe.  

Drive safe: Remind your teen driver that Halloween is a time when it’s especially important to be vigilant while driving at night. That means absolutely no texting and driving, and make sure they budget extra time to get where they’re going, just in case the hordes of trick-or-treaters cause a traffic jam in the neighborhood.

Avoid the tricks: This one is trickier, because it’s not like your teenager is going to let you know if they’re up to some Halloween mischief — midnight pranks, vandalism or trespassing in a cemetery or abandoned house. Have a talk about the consequences and dangers, and consider a curfew.

Host a gathering: If you don’t want to wonder about them, give your teens and their friends a safe place to socialize and hang out and open your home for a Halloween party. You can go all out with decorations, food and costumes, or it can be something more laid-back, like a backyard bonfire with marshmallows and warm drinks. By the way, if you choose the bonfire, don’t use accelerants like gasoline to get the fire going, and keep the flames a safe distance from your house along with other structures. Always keep a bucket of water or hose at the ready, just in case.

Staying on the safe side can help you make sure everyone enjoys this ghoulish time of year. Happy Halloween! 

How to Organize a 'Trunk-or-Treat' Event

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There’s a new way to trick-or-treat that’s been gaining momentum in communities over the past few years. It’s called Trunk-or-Treat. Specific organizations or businesses partner with one another to offer a less-spooky alternative to the typical nighttime trick-or-treating Halloween event. It’s great for younger children and offers a shorter, friendlier Halloween experience.

All you need is a large parking lot, participating vehicles decorated for Halloween, and attendees to enjoy the fun. Here are some tips to help you plan a trunk or treat event:

 

  1. Location: The parking lot should be a decent size (a school parking lot or business parking lot is great). The location will also determine how many participants you can invite to the event. For example, if it’s at a school, will it be just for the school or can other community members and children attend? You’ll want to have enough room.
  2. Date: While it’s an alternative to Halloween trick-or-treating, it’s recommended that you stay away from the actual Halloween holiday. Typically the weekend before Halloween is a good idea or a different day leading up to the holiday will work. Check to see when your community plans to hold trick-or-treating and try to schedule your event a different day.
  3. Cost: Will you charge participants a fee to enjoy the Trunk-or-Treat? Or will the event serve as a fundraiser with donations going to a specific organization or cause?
  4. Find your trunks: If you’re hosting the event at a school, see if the PTO or teachers want to participate. Or, recruit local businesses to participate. Just make sure you allow trunk participants enough time to come up with an idea, decorate their trunk and purchase candy or treats to pass out.
  5. Safety First: On the day of the event, make sure trunk participants arrive at least an hour prior to the event start time. Have them set up, decorate their trunk and get ready for the children. If possible, it’s also a good idea to make sure families can park in a separate area away from the kids walking through the event space.
     

Think you’re ready to take on a trunk-or-treat event? Hopefully this list of tips will help you get started. And for other ways to make sure your Halloween is as safe as it is happy, check out these tips from Eriesense blog:

 

Halloween Safety Checklist
4 Lesser-Known Halloween Safety Tips
How to Prepare Your House for Trick or Treaters

by Jennifer Sonntag on October 6, 2017

https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/trunk-or-treat-event

Fall Home Maintenance Tips

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While spring is a common time for many homeowners to spend some extra attention on upkeep and maintenance, autumn is just as critical a season for preparing your home to withstand the potentially harsh winter weather and temperature conditions that may await you. By making maintenance part of your annual fall routine you can identify potential problems before they arise, and help prepare your home and property for what Mother Nature has to offer.

Following are some home maintenance tips from our Risk Control professionals to help you prepare for the coming winter:

  • Have your heating system cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified technician.
  • Replace your furnace filter in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Insulate water pipes in areas exposed to freezing temperatures.
  • Check gutters for damage and confirm they’re securely attached to the house.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts to keep debris from accumulating. This is especially important during the fall season when leaves may collect in gutters.
  • Check and repair caulking around doors and windows that show signs of deterioration.
  • Have your chimney cleaned and maintained by a professional.
  • Clean the clothes dryer exhaust duct and space under and behind the dryer. Remove lint and dust that may have accumulated inside the dryer in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • Check electrical outlets for loose-fitting plugs or receptacles. Be sure not to overload electrical outlets.
  • Keep a multi-purpose fire extinguisher accessible. Confirm that it is fully charged and ready for operation.
  • Inspect your smoke detectors. Make sure you have a smoke detector in each bedroom or sleeping area and also, a smoke detector in the hallway outside each sleeping area. You should also make sure you have at least one smoke detector on each floor of your home, including your basement. Test them monthly, and change the battery annually or as needed.

The steps you take during the fall can help protect your home and property from more potentially expensive damage and emergency repairs in the colder months to come.

Life is Short

As we hit life’s milestones, we often reflect upon our past years and what we want to do in the future. Did you have goals? Did you accomplish them? Are you making the most of the life that you live? It is important to keep track of your time because we all know far too well how quickly it passes. Here are some of the most time-consuming ways people spend their lives. How are you going to spend yours?

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Hagerty's Most Unusual Insurance Claims

by Hagerty // September 19, 2010

by Hagerty // September 19, 2010

At Hagerty, we know unique vehicles present their owners with unique challenges. We deal with a wide variety of uncommon vehicles and odd claims. In fact, once in a while, a claim is made on a collector vehicle that’s more than unusual – it’s legendary.

“Given the unique nature of collector vehicles, we know we’re going to see some off-the-wall claims,” said CEO McKeel Hagerty. “We only deal with classics, so we just never know what we’re going to hear on the other end of that telephone call. But we’re ready for anything.”

Our in-house claims department searched their files to uncover some of the most unusual collector car insurance claims we’ve ever seen:

• In case of fire, pop top – A client was enjoying a drive in his 1971 MGB Roadster and noticed smoke coming out from underneath the vehicle’s dash. A British car with an electrical system issue - unbelievable! Luckily, he had a fire-prevention device handy. Before the smoking dash became a full-fledged conflagration, he pulled over and put the fire out with a six-pack of beer.

• Doors? ... Where we're going, we don't need doors – The owner of a DeLorean, the infamous model featured in the Back to the Future movies, was pulling out of the garage. Everything was going smoothly except one thing – the Gullwing style doors were up. Whoops…

• Dog vs. Raccoon vs. Jaguar – One day, a dog discovered a raccoon in his owner’s garage. The dog scared the raccoon and caused him to climb to the safest place nearby: the roof of the dog-owner’s Jaguar E-Type. An epic struggle ensued. While the raccoon and dog both suffered some damage, the biggest casualty was the Jaguar. The entire body of the car was covered in claw and scratch marks, requiring a complete body makeover for one of the sexiest cars of all time.

• Don’t feed the bears – There’s nothing like a nature cruise in your 1967 Chrysler convertible, unless your car becomes too attractive to the wildlife. One owner parked in a wilderness area and walked away from his classic, and soon a curious black bear smelled something good. The bear scrambled onto the convertible top looking for food and decided to leave the owner a nice little gift – about five pounds of dung. The vehicle was scratched up, the convertible top was punctured and the owner had a very long ride home.

• Friends don’t let friends tailgate their Chevy – Three Chevy enthusiasts and good friends were headed to a car show driving their classics – a Nova, a Caprice and a Chevelle. They must have been following each other a little too closely, because when the first friend came to a sudden stop, the second friend crashed into him. The third friend then crashed his vehicle into the second. It was a rare Bowtie Trifecta.

• Redefining “horsepower” – A Porsche 911 and 914 and a 1976 Corvette were parked in a slightly opened garage when the neighbor’s horse got loose. The horse entered the garage and, in a fit of jealous rage, trampled all three cars to pieces. Fortunately, Hagerty’s Parts Specialist was able to find all of the replacement parts.

• Trophy car, meet trophy buck – One day, the owner of a 1961 Cadillac Deville was working in the garage when his 12-point mounted buck fell off the wall and directly onto his precious car. Of course, with a nearly 19-foot-long Deville in the garage, where else was the deer going to fall?

For more unusual claims, visit our "Losses and Lessons" section.

https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2010/09/19/hagertys-most-unusual-insurance-claims

#InsuranceGames: A Day in the Life of an Agent

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7:30 AM: It’s Friday. We deserve a treat. Time for bagels and coffee at Panera. #ButFirstCoffee

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8:00 AM: It’s Friday. We deserve some tunes. #BlastTheTunes.

8:05 AM: We read through emails, and start responding with answers so beautiful and professional they leave you like, WOW!  #WOW

9:30 AM: Bring on the phone calls… someone needs a quote. TIME TO SAVE YOU MONEY. #SaveAllTheMoney

9:40 AM: As an independent insurance agency, we have contracts with multiple insurance carriers so we can #SaveAllTheMoney by working up different quotes and selecting the company that is most competitive and can offer you the best rate.  #Capitalism

9:45 AM: Here are some of the companies that we throw into the gauntlet and make them compete for you: #HungerGames, I mean, #InsuranceGames

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10:00 AM: Another call. OH NO IT’S A CLAIM. It’s okay… we got you. #InThisTogether

10:38 AM: Someone called in because you referred them our way. You’re #TheBest. That means a gift card for coffee and donuts is coming your way! #ReferralProgram #DONUTS

12:30 PM: It’s lunch time. But we’re insurance super heroes. We don’t need lunch. #KEEPWORKING

12:45 PM: Just kidding. We’re eating lunch. #Donuts

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2:15 PM: Still working through quotes, emails, billing questions, mortgagee faxes, certificates and paperwork like a #BOSS.

3:30 PM: Did you know we do commercial insurance? Of course you did, that’s why you called us to insure your donut shop. We’ll take very good care of you. #Donuts

4:15 PM: Received your new policy in the mail from one of our carriers. Time to send you your temporary Auto ID cards, with a business card of our beautiful faces.

5:00 PM: It’s 5:00 PM. Time to go home. Just kidding… #KEEPWORKING

6:00 PM: Okay, maybe we’ll go home…

 

How Life Insurance Works: 10 Questions to Ask Before Buying

Life insurance might not make headlines or trend on Twitter, but it is important to talk about. Forty-three percent of Americans say they would feel a financial burdenwithin six months if the chief wage earner in the family died. Yet, just 44% of Americans have life insurance.

To help consumers understand various policy options, here are 10 questions you should know the answer to before buying life insurance:

Question #1: How does life insurance work?

At its core, a life insurance policy provides your family with an amount of money, called a death benefit, should you as the insured die.

Question #2: My employer offers life insurance. Why should I buy an additional policy?

Your employer’s plan may be affordable and easy to enroll in, but the policy may not provide enough of a monetary benefit to your family if you die. In addition, you may not be able to continue the policy if you change jobs. That’s why it’s always recommended to have an additional life insurance policy.

Question #3: From whom should I buy life insurance?

Look for a reputable company with name recognition and a history of serving consumers.

Question #4: How much life insurance do I need?

There are two major factors to consider here: your debt, and your spouse and children’s needs.

You want enough life insurance to pay off all of your debts – such as your mortgage and car loans. In addition, you want to leave behind enough money for your family to continue their current lifestyle. An insurance agent can crunch these numbers for you.

Question #5: Do I have to get a medical exam to get a policy?

Some policies may be available without a medical exam, but those might be more expensive.

Question #6: What’s the difference between term and permanent policies?

Term life insurance provides a death benefit for a certain period of time, usually 10, 20 or 30 years, and is typically less expensive than permanent life insurance.

Permanent life insurance provides both death benefits, and sometimes may build up cash value. It’s more expensive than term insurance but never expires, provided you pay your premium.

Question #7: Why are there so many permanent life insurance options?

There are a handful of permanent life insurance options – but the most common are: Whole Life, Universal Life and Variable Life.  Permanent life insurance typically requires more premium, but it is designed to last for an entire lifetime. It’s something you’ll want to discuss with your insurance agent.

Question #8: Will my premiums increase?

It’s important to know what your premiums will look like in the future. Some policies are designed to have guaranteed premiums that will never increase, and others are designed to be flexible.

Question #9: What is involved in purchasing life insurance?

Life insurance companies will want to get an understanding of the health of the individual who is applying for the insurance coverage. This underwriting process will typically involve meeting with a medical professional to gather personal information such as height, weight, blood work, and medical and personal questions.

Question #10: When is the best time to buy life insurance?

The sooner you buy life insurance, the more money you’ll save. Young, healthy policyholders get great rates, but older consumers need protection, too. Bottom line – if you don’t have life insurance, talk with an agent today.

If you still have questions about life insurance, check out these helpful resourceswhich can help you find out more about different types of life insurance and how much insurance you’ll need.

Published by Nationwide Family & Life Blog, August 18 2017

America's Top 10 Most Stolen Vehicles

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by Erie Insurance on August 4, 2017

We think about safety, comfort and reliability when we’re in the process of purchasing a new vehicle. But what about if it’s an easy target for car thieves? The report in this source article examines vehicle theft data submitted by law enforcement to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) and determines the vehicle make, model and model year most reported stolen in 2016.

Take a look at the latest article on car theft and see if your current (or new) ride falls on this list. You can even click on an interactive map to see the top 10 vehicle thefts by state.

Check out the vehicles on this year's list from the NICB.

Help protect your vehicle by making sure you always lock your car and by having the right auto insurance. As insurance professionals, we can help you find the right coverage at the right price!

Coverage for my College Student?

Article obtained from https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/back-to-college

Article obtained from https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/back-to-college

Is your child among the million students heading back to college any day now? If so, you’re probably busy helping them gather all the things they need for life away from home. 

One of the things that you’ll want to discuss with them before they go back to college is how to keep their car and their belongings safe and protected. Here are some answers to a few of the most common questions that parents of college students often ask us.

Are my child’s belongings covered by my homeowners policy when she goes back to college?

That’s a great question. Students also often take expensive items to school like laptops, bikes and TVs, which can be pricey to replace if damaged or stolen items. The good news is that most insurers’ homeowners policies are designed to cover your child if something is stolen or destroyed. 

At Erie Insurance, full-time students under the age of 24 are automatically covered under their parents’ policy. Part-time students and/or students who are 24 and older may need to take out a renters insurance policy to protect themselves and their belongings. 

Does insurance coverage differ if my child is living in a dorm versus an apartment?

Your children’s personal property is generally covered under your homeowners policy if they’re away from home. However, when students choose to live in an apartment, they should consider purchasing a separate renters insurance policy, which can provide for additional living expenses if an apartment becomes uninhabitable because of something like a fire. 

What steps can my child take to safeguard her belongings?

It’s a good idea to talk with your child about this since more than 13,500 burglaries were reported on U.S. campuses in 2014. In addition to taking personal safety precautions, your child will also want to keep these tips in mind:

  • Always lock the doors. Sounds obvious, but most dorm thefts occur during the day.
  • Fireproof things. Don’t leave candles, cigarettes and grills—the most common causes of fires—unattended. To be extra safe, consider flameless candles, indoor grills and simply kicking the habit.
  • Create a home inventoryIt is much easier to submit a claim if you save all receipts from major purchases, make a detailed list of everything of value in your home, and photograph or videotape your possessions.
  • Safeguard pricier items—or just leave them at home. Bikes, jewelry, watches and laptops are some of the biggest targets of theft. So be sure to lock them up or leave them at a trusted residence that doesn’t have a high level of foot traffic.

Another thing to keep in mind is that most insurers limit how much they will pay for theft of any one item (at Erie Insurance, the limit is $3,000). If a prized possession is worth more, you may want to add coverage.

You may also want to add identity theft coverage to your policy. At Erie Insurance, it’s automatically included in many policies and it helps a victim recover after identity theft or fraud. Talk with your agent to learn more about identity recovery coverage.

Do I need to make any adjustments to my child’s auto coverage if she’s away at school?

Because you’ll have one less driver living at home when your son or daughter goes off to college, your household might get a discount if the child doesn’t take the car to college.* If your child does take a car to school, review your coverage with an insurance agent to make sure he or she is properly insured. 

Are college kids eligible for any discounts?

This is an important question to ask your insurance agent. Erie Insurance has a college student auto discount that applies to young, unmarried, full-time college students who spend most of the year away from home without the use of a vehicle. If you’re renting and buy your car insurance and your renters insurance together from ERIE, you may be eligible for a multi-policy discount.* Ask your agent if you’re eligible for this type of discount.

*Discounts subject to eligibility and applicable rates and rules. Not available in all states

5 Questions to Ask Before You Buy That Fixer Upper

PHOTO: HGTV’S FIXER UPPER

PHOTO: HGTV’S FIXER UPPER

So, you found your dream home … but it needs some work to make that dream a reality. With a little bit of planning, work and patience, you think you can turn that fixer upper into something special. Here are five questions to ask before jumping in.

1. Where is it?
As with all real estate, location is paramount. As you consider the upgrades your dream house will need, think about whether those changes might actually overprice the house for the neighborhood. In addition to being in a nice, livable home, you’ll want to recoup your money when you eventually sell.

2. How much work is involved?
Fixer uppers can be a lot of work, so know what you’re getting into first. Scout out the house with a real estate agent and an experienced inspector, who can help identify the home’s issues. Are they cosmetic concerns––ugly shag carpeting, ghastly old wallpaper, outdated appliances—that can be quickly and easily replaced? Or are the issues structural? Be concerned if a home’s foundation, structure and electrical wiring require work, and ask yourself: How much is too much fixing up? Also, consider whether you’ll be able to live in the house during renovation; finding alternative housing could mean added expense.

3. Who will do the work?
Before investing in a fixer upper, decide how much you can do yourself. If the repairs aren’t extensive and you have the skills to make them, you can save money with a little sweat equity. But if you’re considering a major renovation, you’ll likely need to hire a contractor. In that case, do your research before deciding to buy. Once you’ve found someone reliable, with solid references, have them help you estimate the scope of the work—and make sure they’ll be available when you’re ready to start construction.

4. How much should I pay?
When it’s time to crunch numbers, enlist your realtor’s help. Start by comparing prices for homes in good condition in that neighborhood to determine a fair purchase price. Then, estimate the cost of the renovation and deduct that from the fair purchase price to arrive at an offer to buy. And remember, even the best-laid plans can go awry. When estimating the price of renovation, factor in the possibility for cost overruns or timeline delays.

5. How will I pay for it?
Major makeovers will likely need separate financing. A Federal Housing Administration (FHA) 203(k) rehabilitation loan can help. It allows you to buy the home and have a reserve fund in escrow for renovations. A home equity loan (also known as a second mortgage) or home equity line of credit (HELOC) taken at the same time as your primary mortgage may also be an option. Both let you borrow against the equity you already have in your home—for new homeowners, that’s usually the amount of the down payment. A mortgage specialist can help you sort through the options.

Article as published by AAA

https://athome.chicago.aaa.com/affording/5-questions-ask-buy-fixer-upper/

Backyard BBQ Party Ideas

Be sure to take advantage of BBQ season while it lasts! A good backyard BBQ is so much more than just eating. It’s a perfect opportunity to organize awesome entertainment and activities. Try out some of these fun BBQ ideas that are sure to make your next cookout a hit.

Don’t forget to stay safe while grilling. Before you fire up the coals, check out these essential grilling safety tips.

(From Nationwide Blog)

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Do You Practice Safe Selfies? Start Now.

Erie Insurance: http://bit.ly/2ouEB2A by Leah Knapp

Erie Insurance: http://bit.ly/2ouEB2A

by Leah Knapp

The selfie: That simple act of holding up your phone and snapping a photo of yourself. (Please note: Having someone take a photo of you by yourself is not, by definition, a selfie.)

What once seemed reserved for teens obsessed with documenting every aspect of their lives and celebrity red carpet events now seems to pervade all corners of our lives. Even politicians have mastered the art of the selfie.

The practice seemed to hit its peak in 2013 when Oxford Dictionary declared “selfie” its word of the year. Yet, its ubiquity shows no sign of slowing.

And while selfies can be an easy way to capture a moment, they can be dangerous.

There are some statistics around selfie fatalities. But there is far less data about injuries resulting from selfies, likely because there is no reporting mechanism for such things.

…And let’s face it, who wants to admit to spraining an ankle taking a photo of themselves?

At last count, there were 13 landmarks around the globe that have actually banned selfies in some form or fashion.

And consider this: A 2015 survey by Erie Insurance found that 4 percent of drivers admit to taking selfies while they’re driving, while another 23 percent have seen others do it. With more than 420,000 people injured in car accidents involving distracted driving each year, it’s time to get serious about keeping your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

With that in mind, we’ve created these simple reminders for you to share and encourage others to #PracticeSafeSelfies. Download them below and help us spread the word. To download, right click and select "Save As."

Just don’t post them #whiledriving.

Great Shot

 

 

 

Keeping Kids Safe in the Backyard

by Erie Insurance on August 2, 2017

 

Many of us love the idea of turning our backyards into an inviting oasis where the kids can let loose while the adults unwind. Who wouldn’t want to kick back and listen to the happy squeals of their kids as they splash in the pool, bounce on the trampoline or swing higher on the swings?

Play it Safe

It’s important to take an inventory of your backyard and identify potential risks. Your insurance agent can help you determine what liabilities you have and what coverage limits are best for your specific situation. It’s about the peace of mind knowing you, your family (and the neighborhood kids) are protected if something happened.

It’s important to understand that swimming pools and trampolines are known as an “attractive nuisance.” In other words, you may have something that's kept outside that could tempt a child to sneak into your yard and use it. If that kid ends up getting hurt or worse, you could be held liable, even if they were trespassing.

Bottom line, there are many situations where if someone gets hurt at your home, you’re financially responsible for his or her  injuries. To protect yourself, talk to your agent. Understand what is covered under your homeowners policy and what isn’t, and consider an umbrella policy for more liability coverage for your backyard enhancements.

In addition, take a few extra steps to protect your family and your visitors. We’ll walk through some of the most common causes of backyard accidents and what homeowners can do to protect their families, their guests and their finances — without sacrificing the fun factor.

Up first, trampoline safety.

Young, Fabulous - and Insured: Protect your (Temporary) Home

by Tara Maciulewicz on July 20, 2017

 

Insurance probably isn’t top of mind for young adults heading off to college or renting their first apartment. But with freedom comes responsibility—and in this case, the responsibility is to make sure that they and their belongings are protected by getting the proper renters and auto coverages.

The good news is that many young adults may not need to take out additional policies and, for those who do, some policies cost mere cents a day. ERIE can help with policies that fit whatever life stage you’re currently in.

Protect your place

Dorm dwellers and apartment renters alike should definitely get schooled in insurance.

“When kids are away at school, they’re considered residents of their parents’ household and are covered to the full limit of the parents’ homeowners or renters policy until they’re 24,” says Jennifer Koebe, ERIE’s vice president and regional underwriting officer. This holds true as long as the young adult is a full-time student and maintains residency in their parents’ home—which they must have lived in directly prior to moving out—when not on campus or in an apartment during the school year.

Things are a little stickier with non-full-time students and renters who are 24 years of age or older. To protect this group’s personal property against damage from fire, smoke, theft, vandalism, lightning and other common disasters, they’ll need to take out a standard renters insurance policy, such as an ErieSecure Tenant® policy.

This policy offers personal property coverage, loss of use (coverage that kicks in to take care of living expenses associated with a temporary relocation), personal liability protection, and medical payments for damages or injury that occur in your rental unit or as a result of personal activities away from home. And, similar to how an ERIE homeowners policy works, the customer gets worldwide coverage that protects his or her possessions even if they are damaged, lost or stolen when away from home, whether the location in question is an exotic locale or a friend’s place across town.

The ErieSecure Tenant® protection (including liability protection), which starts at $100,000 in coverage and goes up to $1 million, typically costs less than $120 a year and far less when paired with an ERIE auto policy. It's recommended that renters consider a personal liability limit of at least $300,000 and that they opt for guaranteed replacement cost over actual cash value.

What’s the difference?

“In an actual cash value settlement, if something happened to that TV you’ve had for 15 years, you’d receive the money it was worth with the depreciation factored in,” Koebe says. “With a guaranteed replacement cost settlement, you’ll be able to buy a brand new TV. There’s a small difference in premiums between the two, but the value that replacement cost provides Customers dealing with an unfortunate situation is significant.”

Tips to keep your stuff safe

Even with an insurance policy in place, it still pays to practice some tips to protect your property and keep claims in check. Here are a few:

 

  • Safeguard pricier items—or just leave them at home. According to the Campus Safety and Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool,* over 22,000 dorm burglaries occurred in the years 2013, 2014 and 2015 combined. Expensive bikes, jewelry, watches and laptops are some of the most frequent targets, so take care to lock them up or leave them at a trusted residence that doesn’t have a high level of foot traffic. Renters should also be aware that ERIE has a $3,000 coverage limit per item for the theft of things such as jewelry and watches. If a prized possession is worth more than that limit, make sure to talk to your agent about getting additional coverage for that item.
     

  • Lock your doors all the time. It sounds obvious, but most dorm thefts occur during the day.
     

  • Fireproof your home. Don’t leave candles, grills and cigarettes—the most common causes of fires—unattended. To be extra safe, consider flameless candles, indoor grills and kicking the habit. 
     

  • Engrave electronics. Engravings make it easier for police to identify stolen computers, televisions and tablet.
     

  • Create a home inventory. By saving all receipts from major purchases, making a detailed list of everything of value in your home or apartment, and photographing or videotaping your possessions, submitting a claim will be easier. You’re also more likely to receive reimbursement for what’s stolen or damaged.
     

  • Consider adding Identity Recovery coverage to your policy. College students are increasingly targets of identity fraud. The Federal Trade Commission reports college students (ages 20–29) represent the highest percentage of all identity theft complaints. College students have pristine credit records and they’re exposed to situations that can leave them vulnerable to identity theft. Fortunately, it’s affordable to add an ErieSecure® Advantage Bundle endorsement, which will help cover the cost of identity theft by reimbursing you up to $25,000 of fraudulent credit card fees. The Advantage Bundle also includes increased sublimit coverage for theft-related losses.

 

Like a favorite roommate, ERIE is there for you. Talk to an Erie Insurance agent today to get the right coverage for you.

 

Insurance 101

There’s no doubt about it—insurance can be as much of a head-scratcher as a trick question on a final exam.

While we can't make insurance any less complicated, we can help it make more sense. To understand how ERIE’s policies can safeguard you and give you peace of mind, check out these ERIE resources:

 

  • ERIE’s website–You'll find lots of helpful information and insurance glossaries along with a free online auto quote tool, a life insurance calculator and plenty of FAQs in the Support Center.
     

  • Eriesense blog–Here, you have access to hundreds of stories to help you live better and safer. For example, you can search on a variety of topics and find everything from the latest trends in cars and tech to interactive quizzes and videos.
     

  • Your ERIE agent–Your knowledgeable agent is there to help you, so don’t hesitate to throw any questions his or her way. If you don’t have an ERIE agent, you can find an agent at erieinsurance.com.
     

  • Your policy–For the final word, consult your individual policy. And if you still have questions, talk to your agent.
     

  • Another great resource for insurance info is the Insurance Information Institute’s website.

 

Read about protecting your wheels next.

 

*This analysis cutting tool was designed to provide rapid customized reports for public inquiries relating to campus crime and fire data. The data are drawn from the OPE Campus Safety and Security Statistics website database to which crime statistics and fire statistics are submitted annually, via a web-based data collection, by all postsecondary institutions that receive Title IV funding (i.e., those that participate in federal student aid programs). This data collection is required by the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act and the Higher Education Opportunity Act.

Insurance products are subject to terms, conditions and exclusions not described in this article. For additional coverage questions, please refer to our disclaimer and talk to an ERIE agent for policy details. Coverage is not available in all states.