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Keep an Eye on Your Vision Health

Keep an Eye on Your Vision Health
Eye exams, like regular physicals, are an important part of routine preventative health care. Since many vision issues present limited symptoms, early detection, diagnosis and treatment is important for maintaining good vision. 
   
Vision Health Tips
Everyone should receive eye exams on a periodic basis, but the frequency will depend on your age, risk factors and physical condition. The following are general guidelines for when you and your family should receive eye exams:
  • Children age five and younger should have their vision checked every time they visit their pediatrician.
  • If you have been diagnosed with a vision or eye condition problem, visit the eye doctor annually.
  • School-aged children and adolescents should have their vision checked prior to entering first grade, and then every two years after that.
  • Adults should have their vision checked:
      • At least once between the ages of 20 to 29
      • Two exams between the ages of 30 and 39
      • One exam every four years from the ages of 40 to 65
      • Once every year to every other year after age 65
It is estimated that approximately one in 20 preschool children and one in four school-aged children have an eye condition that could potentially cause permanent vision loss if left untreated. Make regular eye exams a staple in your child’s healthcare regimen.
   
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You’re a New Driver!

Congratulations, you got your driver’s licence! In addition to the being excited about the keys you’ve just been handed, you’re probably a bit apprehensive at the new responsibility you’ve just been given, too. To make sure that you keep your good driver standing and stay safe while on the road, remember these helpful safety tips.

 

Roadway Tips for Teens

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  • Always wear your safety belt, even if you are just going for a short drive down the block.
  • Avoid driving at night until you have more experience behind the wheel.
  • Always abide by the speed limit.
  • If possible, wait for bad weather to pass before driving.
  • Never drive under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Also realize that some over-the-counter medications can affect your reaction time and should not be taken if you plan to drive within a few hours of taking the medication.
  • Avoid busy roads during peak travel times.
  • Abide by the two-second rule when following another vehicle – when the car in front of you passes a traffic sign, count to see how long it takes you to reach that same sign. If it takes you less than two seconds, you are travelling too close.
  • Never reach for something inside of your car, look for vehicle controls, talk on a cell phone, send a text message or have an involved conversation with a passenger. These distractions only increase the chance that you will get into an accident.

Attention parents…Teen drivers tend to get distracted easily, especially when first getting their licence. During their first year of driving, do not allow teens to drive with more than one other person in the car to minimize the chance that they could become distracted by rowdy passengers.

  • Create a code word with mom and dad in the event that you get into a sticky situation and need some assistance. This way, you won’t have to explain the situation to your friends and your parents can come and help you out.
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Driver Safety: You’re in the driver’s seat

When it comes to minimizing your risk of collision while driving, you’re in the driver’s seat. By simply practising safe driving techniques, you can significantly reduce your chances of being involved in an auto accident.

In addition to being aware of your surroundings and making smart driving decisions, the following tips will help you arrive at your destination safely.

Drive Defensively

Defensive driving requires you to be aware of driving errors made by other drivers around you, and consequently make adjustments to your driving to avoid accidents.  expects you to be committed to defensive driving. 

Get Plenty of Rest

Driving any distance, especially long distances, requires you to be physically and mentally well-rested. Fatigue plays a major role in motor vehicle accidents. If you become drowsy, pull off the road immediately and take a short nap.

Inspect Your Vehicle

Before you begin driving, inspect the lights, tires, brakes and windshield wipers of your vehicle. Obtain any necessary repairs before you depart.

Know Your Route

Before you set out for someplace new, become familiar with the general directions. If you need to check your map or call for directions along the way, pull over.

Avoid Speeding and Use Safety Devices

Provide yourself with ample travel time so you can avoid speeding. Be aware of construction zones, rush hour congestion and changing weather conditions when you are planning your route. Maintain safe following distances; braking might be difficult in poor weather. Always wear your seat belt and turn on your headlights.

Don’t Drink Alcohol

Alcohol is the single greatest contributing factor to fatal motor vehicle accidents. In addition, be aware that some prescription medications may have the same effect as alcohol. Do not drink alcoholic beverages before or during a driving trip, and consult your doctor about possible side effects of any medications you may be taking.

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Sewer Backup Coverage

Planning for the Unexpected

If your home is your castle, the last thing you want to do is to come home to discover raw sewage seeping into your home’s basement or a toilet overflowing you’re your second-floor bathroom due to a broken sewer line.  Both can create major and costly damage, but the good news is that both can be covered with an affordable sewer backup endorsement added to your homeowners insurance policy.

What’s Covered?

For an additional premium to your homeowners insurance policy, an endorsement for water backup and sump discharge will cover losses caused by:

  • The backup of water or waterborne materials through a sewer or through a drain, or
  • Water or waterborne material that overflows from a sump, even if the backup of water is due to the mechanical breakdown of the sump pump. Coverage includes damage to covered property but excludes the sump pump and any related equipment that has broken down.

The endorsement does not cover losses that involve owner negligence, such as from damage as the result of forgetting to turn on your sump pump, or damages caused by a flood. A separate flood insurance policy is available to cover losses due to flooding.

Some water and sewer backups are unavoidable, but there are some simple things you can do to prevent backups in your sewer line.

  • Paper products – Do not flush anything other than toilet paper down your drain. Other paper products do not deteriorate quickly.
  • Cooking grease - As grease goes down the drain and cools, it solidifies and gets trapped. Instead of rinsing grease down your drain, dispose of cooled grease in your garbage.
  • Shrub and tree roots – Seeking moisture, it’s not uncommon for the roots of trees and shrubs to make their way into sewer line cracks. Over time, the cracks allow debris to build up. If you have continuing problems with tree roots in your sewer lateral, consider replacing it with a pipe made of plastic.
  • Illegal plumbing connections – Connecting sump pumps, French drains and other flood control systems to your sanitary sewer only spells trouble. Consult a plumber to correct any illegal connections.

Water in Your Basement?

Often, water entering the basement is not due to a sewer backup but rather from poor soil grading around your home’s exterior. If you have a water problem and have ruled out sewer backup, making sure that water is draining away from your home’s foundation properly can often fix the problem.

Top Ways to Save on Your Premium:

  • Consider raising your deductible
  • Invest in a home security system
  • Update exterior locks to dead bolts
  • Install smoke alarms
  • Select an automatic payment method
  • Monitor your credit rating
  • Ask about our multi-policy discounts

Protect Your Property: Sewer and Water Backup

As a homeowner, you are responsible for the maintenance and repair of your home’s sewer lateral, which is the pipe that connects your city’s sanitary sewer main to your home. If your sewer line backs up, it can cause health and safety concerns as well as significant property damage. To help protect against losses, take some simple precautions and consider sewer backup coverage.

The Cost of Coverage

The cost of sewer backup coverage is affordable. Our personal lines team can provide you with more information about coverage costs, limits and deductibles. Call Dan Lawrie Insurance Brokers  at 800-661-1518 to learn more about this coverage and all the affordable ways we can help you to protect your home and personal property.

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Understanding Your Homeowners Insurance Policy

 

Deciphering all of the parts of your homeowners insurance policy can be difficult. This article covers the basics so that you can understand your policy more easily. All homeowners insurance policies follow the same general format. They include a declarations page, a definitions section and sections for property insurance and liability insurance.

Declarations Page

The declarations page of your homeowners insurance policy provides an overview of all details of your contract. Included on the declarations page are the following:

  • Name of the insurance company
  • Your name and address
  • The policy number
  • Effective and expiration dates of the policy—your policy covers you between these two dates
  • Mortgagee’s name and address—this is the bank or mortgage company that holds your loan 
  • Coverage information—expect to see the different types of coverage you have selected listed here along with your deductible and the limits for each line of coverage
  • Premiums—this is how much you will pay each month for coverage
  • Name of the loss payee—this is the person or entity that is entitled to all or part of the insurance proceeds when a claim is paid out
  • Any special conditions or changes made to the policy

When you receive a copy of your policy, it’s important to review all of the information on the declarations page for accuracy. Keep a copy of your declarations page in your files in case you find yourself with questions about your policy. If you change or revise your policy at any time, a new declarations page will be issued to you reflecting the changes. Make sure to review and keep this new declarations page as well.

Definitions

A homeowners insurance policy always includes a definitions page. This is where the “fine print” of your policy is located. The definitions page defines vocabulary in your policy to make it easier for you to understand. It also states your rights as the policy holder.

A standard homeowners insurance policy insures the home itself and the things you keep in it. It is typically a package policy, which means it covers both damage to your property and your liability or legal responsibility for any injuries and property damage you or members of your family cause to other people. Property damage coverage and liability coverage will be grouped in two separate sections on your policy.

Property Protection Coverage

  • Dwelling: This offers protection as a result of damage to the structure of your home, including fixtures, plumbing and heating, due to a loss like fire or hail storm damage. It does not cover the normal wear and tear of your home or maintenance-related problems. You need enough coverage for the cost of rebuilding or repairing your home, minus the cost of the land. Determining replacement coverage can be somewhat complex, but Dan Lawrie Insurance Brokers  can assist with this process.
  • Other structures: This includes coverage for detached structures, such as a garage or garden shed, and fixtures attached to land, such as a driveway, sidewalks, patio, fence or swimming pool.
  • Personal property: This covers the contents and personal items in your home such as furniture, clothing and sporting goods. It also extends to your personal belongings anywhere in the world. Calculating the value of your belongings can be difficult, but these three easy steps will help you:
  1. Create extensive records of your possessions. It is recommended that you take close-up and wide-shot pictures of individual belongings. Then make an item-by-item list so that if necessary, you can quickly skim it to see what items are documented in the photos. Some people find it easier to keep their lists of belongings grouped according to the rooms they are located in. Others group their belongings by item type, such as jewellery, artwork, books or furniture. However you decide to record your possessions, it’s a good idea to store the information in at least two different places. Consider keeping a hard copy of all of your lists and photos in your office at work and also saving them to a folder on your computer.
  2. Learn the difference between policies that provide “fair market value” and “replacement value.” With “fair market value,” once an item is lost, you’ll receive the amount that your item is currently worth. So if you purchased a chair five years ago for $500 dollars, now it may only be worth $100. Fair market value will cover you for the $100. If your policy provides you with the “replacement value,” you’ll receive the amount it costs to replace the item with another one of comparable value. So in this case, though that $500 chair is now worth $100, it would cost $900 to replace it with a comparable one. Replacement value covers you for the $900.
  3. Do your research.Even though your kitchen table may have cost you $500 when you first bought it, a comparable new one could cost you double that amount, so that’s the amount you want to be covered for. Search online and visit local furniture stores to see what comparable prices are.
  • Loss of use: In the event that a covered loss forces you from your home, such as a fire, loss of use provides a safety net for additional expenses over and above your normal living expenses while you are unable to live in your home, up to the policy limit.

Liability Coverage

This portion of your policy covers against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you or family members may cause to other people. It pays for both the cost of litigation and any court awards, up to the limit of your policy. It covers you whether you are at home or away.

In the event that a visitor is injured in your home, you will not need to incur any expenses except for those associated with emergency first-aid (if applicable). All additional costs of the injury will be paid to the injured person up to the policy limit without a liability claim being filed against you.

Additional Considerations

What about disasters? Damage caused by many disasters is covered in a standard homeowners policy, but floods, earthquakes and other specific types of occurrences are generally excluded. Since policies can vary widely, the best way to be sure about specific exclusions is to read your own policy. Dan Lawrie Insurance Brokers  can provide additional explanation if there is anything you don’t understand.

Make sure to set aside some time each year to review your policy and ensure that the limits and coverage you have selected are right for you. Evaluate your needs based on your provincial regulations, the value of your home, the money you have in savings and the amount of risk you feel comfortable taking. Then, make sure to read the entire insuring agreement—especially the exclusions—to guarantee that you are covered in every situation that is necessary for your lifestyle. If you have questions about your homeowners insurance policy, contact Dan Lawrie Insurance Brokers today! 

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Auto Insurance: Saving $$ In Your Golden Years

1Your Auto insurance rates are based on a variety of factors such as your driving record, mileage, the car you drive and your age.

Rates are highest for drivers in their teens and early 20, tend to fall for those aged 30 to 60-something, and then start climbing again around age 70. Although drivers in this age range tend to drive less and are more mature, their vision and reflexes are declining. They're also more likely to be injured in an accident than their younger counterparts, and to suffer more severely because they're physically weaker. Also. They often drive smaller cars, which are more vulnerable to damage.

Here are five ways that senior drivers can keep their Auto insurance rates affordable. :

  1. Update your mileage. You can get a discount of 5% to 10% if you no longer commute or drive long distances.
  2. Use a telematics device. A usage-based or pay-as-you-go Auto insurance program can reduce premiums by 5% to as much as 40%.
  3. Take a class. Most states require Auto insurers to offer "mature drivers" (who can be as young as 55) a discount of 5% to 15% for completing an accident-prevention course.
  4. Exclude a driver. In some states, you might be able to drop coverage on a driver who no longer gets behind the wheel.
  5. Make your car safer. Some insurance companies offer discounts for anti-theft devices, airbags and anti-lock brakes.

Bear in mind that drivers can use some of these methods at any age and save on Auto insurance by raising their deductible or reducing coverage.

To make sure you get the protection you need at a cost you can afford, just give us a call.

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Auto Liability Insurance: How Much Is Enough?

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Have you ever wondered about the three numbers that are part of your Auto Liability insurance, usually written in this form: XX/YY/ZZ?

The first number refers to the maximum amount of Bodily Injury Liability (BI) for an individual injured in an auto accident; the second is BI per coverage per accident; while the third covers Property Damage Liability (PD) per vehicle. For example a policy with 30/60/15 Liability coverage would pay up to $30,000 in BI per individual, $60,000 worth of BI per vehicle, and $15,000 in PD per vehicle.

Every province requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of Liability coverage under their Auto policy. Limits by province may vary. The numbers have remained fairly stable for a number of years.

However, because a car accident can cost far more than the Liability minimums that most states require, people usually carry more coverage. The Insurance Information Institute recommends that you have at least $100,000 of BI protection per person and $300,000 per accident (known as 100/300).

If you hold the minimum coverage required by your province and you're involved in an accident in another province that requires higher minimum coverage, the chances are that your policy limits will increase automatically to meet the other province's minimum requirements.

We'd be happy to make sure that this feature applies under your Auto insurance - and to discuss the most cost-effective ways of protect yourself and your family from liability for accidents behind the wheel (such as increasing your Liability coverage or choosing higher deductibles).

For a complimentary review of your policy, just give us a call.

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Home, Sweet (Temporary) Home

1If a disaster covered under your Homeowners insurance wrecks your home, you don't have to couch-surf until repairs are finished.

The standard Homeowners policy will pay for loss of use or Additional Living Expenses (ALE) - such as rental and hotel costs - while your dwelling remains uninhabitable

Check out these guidelines for using this valuable coverage:

  1. Know the amount of your ALE. The Homeowners policy caps additional expenses as a portion of the Dwelling coverage (usually 20%) and sets a time limit, such as 12 months. If you believe that you'll need more coverage, increase the amount before disaster strikes.
  2. Look for comparable digs. Staying in a hotel gets old rapidly, so you'll want to get settled quickly. However, don't decide too soon - you're entitled to stay in a place that's comparable in size and quality to your house.
  3. Count all your extra expenses. In addition to the cost of housing, don't overlook other expenditures - everything from restaurant meals while living in a hotel and fees for boarding pets to the expense of coin-operated laundry and extra mileage for driving further to work.
  4. Remember that the key word for ALE is "additional." The insurance company can deduct any money you save from living in temporary housing (such as the amount you would have spent on groceries from your reimbursement for restaurant meals while you're staying at the hotel).
  5. Keep your receipts. The insurance company will generally reimburse you for expenses as they're incurred, rather than paying a lump sum. Keep meticulous records of every expenditure, save all your receipts - and store them in a waterproof, zippered pouch.

For more information on your Additional Living Expenses coverage, please feel free to get in touch with us at any time.


 

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Beware Of Post-Storm Home Repair Scams!

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With extreme storms such as Hurricane Sandy and the Nemo snowstorm becoming the "new normal" in the U.S., homeowners are increasingly vulnerable to bogus repair work by shady contractors.

A report by Environment America finds that extreme rainstorms and snowstorms have become 30% more frequent on average since 1948. Moreover, the biggest storms are producing an average of 10% more precipitation during the past 65 years. Higher damages from this extreme weather make the pickings ripe for home repair and rebuilding scams, often by dishonest drifters who go from door to door.

Insurance fraud experts warn against these seven common rip-offs:

  • Disappearing down payments - A contractor demands a large down payment (often to "buy materials"), and then disappears after doing little or no work.
  • Doing shoddy work - A contractor uses cheap materials to provide low-quality repairs, leaving the job to be redone, often at your own expense.
  • Creating "phantom damage," - For example, by nicking sidewall or roof shingles with a screwdriver to mimic destruction from hail).
  • Worsening damage - Such as a contractor enlarging holes in a roof to increase his billings.
  • Billing for phantom work - This one is self-explanatory.
  • Offering to pay your Homeowners deductible - This is a con to lure your business.
  • Acting as a go-between with your insurance company - Taking control of your claim.

Fixing bad repair work can mean months of headaches - and your Homeowner's policy might not cover fraudulent repairs! Also, bear in mind that even routine home fix-ups and remodeling can be an invitation for contract scammers.

If you have any questions or would like professional advice about dealing with a home repair contractor, just get in touch with us.

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Fraud Costs Everyone

3Wrecking a car and lying about it or staging an accident to get a payout are crimes that can cost a perpetrator dearly. Similarly, any inaccuracies reported (about a child's GPA, ZIP code where a car is garaged, etc.) for financial gain is also technically fraud.

This type of "soft fraud" is far more common than hard fraud -- and is much harder for the industry to deal with because it's so difficult to detect. Consider "claims padding," such as urging a body shop to fix dents that never happened after a car accident or claiming more serious pain or injuries than actually suffered.

Although perpetrators might think of these as victimless crimes, everyone with an Auto policy pays for them in higher rates needed to offset the cost of phony claims.

Here are a few common examples of soft fraud, as described by Allstate and the auto buying and research site, CarsDirect.com:

  • Grade faking: A parent or student lies about high grades to get a good-student discount.
  • Location lies: A policyholder tries to get a premium cut by using a parent's address in a rural, less-traveled area to register and insure a car that's usually driven in a more accident-prone city. He also tells his insurer that he drives half the miles that he really does.
  • Missing drivers: A family fails to inform their insurance company that there are two teen drivers in the household, not just mom and dad.

Soft fraud is usually treated as a misdemeanor. Depending on the seriousness of the offense, it could cost the scammer a fine of up to $15,000, jail or prison time, and probation -- not to mention the humiliation of going through the legal system.

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