Melendez Insurance

Blog Archives

Blog Calendar

December 2017
M T W T F S S
« Nov    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

RSS News You Can Use

  • A Hot Price for U.S. Businesses
  • Summer Grilling Fun
    Every year, what should be a fun outdoor occasion for family and friends instead turns into tragedy at nearly 9,000 homes, causing deaths, injuries and tens of millions in property damage. Your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agents can remind you that fire damage and potential liability for injury to friends will be covered by your […]
  • Home-Buying Tips for the Single Guy and Gal
  • Food Trucks: Let Your Food Keep on Trucking!
    Welcome to the world of food trucks! When you picture building your catering business, is the image more truck than tent? The mobile food industry has a long and tasty history in the U.S.
  • Staffing Your Catering Business
    Like many entrepreneurs, you may have begun your catering business as the sole cook and bottle washer. But at some point, you will discover that going it alone not only impedes growth, but is a recipe for burnout and collapse. And you’ll face the question of every successful catering business: How do I find and […]

Melendez Insurance Blog

Understanding Your Auto Coverage

November 8th, 2017

You know if you have a car, you need auto insurance. However, you’re probably not thinking about what kind of coverage you have until you need it. From protecting your car, to protecting your passengers and any prized possessions along for the ride, it’s good to know your policy has you covered for life’s little mishaps.

Say your daughter forgets your car is parked right behind her in the driveway or a deer doesn’t wait his turn to cross the street, we’ll make sure you’re back on the road as soon as possible. In the moments after an accident, so many things are happening that you may feel overwhelmed. Thinking about what you auto policy covers shouldn’t be one of them.

Common Coverages
Depending on your state’s requirements for auto insurance and what limits and options you pick, your auto policy can include up to six common coverages.

You Cause an Accident and Someone Gets Hurt: If you cause an accident and other people are injured due to your negligence, bodily injury liability coverage is what protects you against their claims for damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. (Talk to us to learn more and to determine what limits are best for your situation.)

You Need Medical Treatment: If you or others covered on your policy are injured in an accident while occupying your vehicle, there’s a coverage that reimburses for medical treatment. It’s called medical payments coverage or personal injury protection.

Not Enough to Go Around: Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (optional in some states) is for your protection. If you are injured by a hit-and-run driver or a driver who does not have auto liability insurance, you’re covered by uninsured motorist coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage pays when the other person doesn’t have enough coverage to cover the entire cost of your injury claim.

Financial Security Blanket: Comprehensive (or “Comp” for short) insurance provides financial protection for your car from loss to due to fire, theft or damage not caused by a collision (for example, hitting that deer we mentioned earlier).

Crash Helmet: Collision coverage is used when your car collides with another car or object, or flips over. So if you have a newer vehicle, are on a lease or still owe on your car loan, you would definitely want comp and collision.

To take a look at your current coverage, contact Melendez Insurance.

I Want to Rent Out My Home. What Do I Need to Do?

June 7th, 2017

Renting is on the rise, and many homeowners are deciding to rent out their old homes rather than sell them. If you fall into that camp, you’ll want to talk to us about changing your current homeowners insurance policy to a rental policy.

Your insurance

A rental policy will protect your home’s structure and a small amount of furnishings in your home. (If you are renting your home furnished, you can add additional coverage for extra furnishings.) So you’d have coverage for your home if lightening ruined its roof or if a visitor slipped and fell on an icy stoop.

Another important benefit is fair rental value. In the event that your home suffers a loss that is covered and your tenant can’t live in your unit until repairs are made, your policy can provide up to 12 months of fair rental value. This means you won’t lose out on the rental income you may rely on each month. And, if you need more than 12 months, there is an endorsement that gives you up to 24 months of this coverage.

A rental policy is important for landlords, and you’ll want to get on in place before your first tenant moves in.

Your tenant’s insurance

Once you get a tenant, it’s a good idea to talk to him or her about a renters insurance policy. A renters insurance policy will protect the possessions your renter brings with them—and it can offer you important protection if you’re listed as an additional insured.

When you ask your renter to list you as an additional insured, the liability protection is extended to you from their policy if something unfortunate happened. For example, imagine your tenant burns a candle, and it causes fire damage in your home. As an additional insured on their policy, you would know they have liability coverage to respond to repair the damage.

You would also have liability protection from their policy. Imagine your tenant’s dog bites someone. The victim could seek reimbursement from your tenant’s policy rather than yours.  Finally, being an additional insured also entitles you to be notified if the policy is cancelled or is modified. For these reasons, you may want to insert wording into the lease about a tenant having a specific amount of insurance.

You can let your tenant know that renters insurance also benefits them in many ways—and it’s very affordable. In fact, sometimes the discount a tenant receives from buying a renters policy from the same company from which they buy their auto policy is enough to cover the renters policy premium.

What’s the Difference Between a Certificate of Insurance and an Additional Insured?

April 3rd, 2017

You typically come across these issues when you’re talking about business insurance. It’s easy to get them confused.

The key difference between a certificate of insurance and an additional insured comes down to whether you have coverage under someone else’s insurance policy. This only applies if you’re named as an additional insured on a policy.

What’s an additional insured?

When you’re named an additional insured on a policy, you are typically insured for covered claims arising from the Named Insured’s negligence (or your joint negligence) with regard to the premises, project and equipment that’s described in the additional insured endorsement. This commonly will include defense costs should you need to hire an attorney if the claim falls within the terms of the additional insured endorsement.

Businesses typically request to be named as an additional insured on a policy if another business’s negligence could affect them. Two examples could include:

  • A general contractor hires a subcontractor to help with a project. The subcontractor does negligent work, which leads someone to get injured and file a lawsuit against both the general contractor and the subcontractor. By being named an additional insured on the subcontractor’s policy, the general contractor  may obtain coverage under the subcontractor’s policy within the policy’s limits.
  • A wholesaler-distributor distributes products manufactured by another company. A product injures someone, and the injured person files a lawsuit against the wholesaler-distributer and the manufacturer. By being named an additional insured on the manufacturer’s policy, the wholesaler-distributer may obtain coverage under the manufacturer’s policy within the policy’s limits.

A business is usually added as an additional insured via an endorsement to a business insurance policy. Many contracts spell out who should be named as an additional insured on a business’ policy.

There are two ways most policies treat additional insureds: on a specific basis and on a blanket basis. A specific basis is just that—a specific person or business is named as an additional insured on a policy.

Meanwhile, a blanket basis covers anyone who meets the definition of “additional insured” as it’s spelled out in the policy. The policy typically names broad types of parties like “contractors” or “landlords.”

What is a certificate of insurance?

A certificate of insurance is a document that shows that insurance coverage is in effect. It shows the dates of coverage, the limits, and the line of business that’s covered.

The certificate shows that a policy is in force—but that doesn’t mean the person or business requesting it is covered as well. As a certificate holder, you are only receiving proof that the insurance policy exists; the certificate of insurance is not an insurance policy and does not provide coverage or serve to amend or alter the terms of an insurance policy.

A certificate of insurance is usually requested by one party in an agreement, contract or transaction to make sure another party has the appropriate insurance coverage. A certificate of insurance does not entitle you to rights as an additional insured. For example, you aren’t provided any coverage under the other party’s policy in the event of a loss, unless the policy has been endorsed to provide coverage. For that reason, the best way to verify that you have been added to a policy as an additional insured is to request proof that the additional insured endorsement has been added to the  insurance policy. If the policy has been endorsed with the additional insured form, the certificate will often include the form number and specific information about the endorsement that reflects what has been added to the policy. Proof may therefore be a certificate with this information listed or an actual copy of the declarations showing the endorsement.

As you can see, additional insureds and certificates of insurance can be pretty tricky. And not having the right information can put you (as well as your business) at financial risk.

Three Things to Know about Fallen Trees and Business Insurance

December 9th, 2016

If a tree falls after a storm and hits your office building, is the damage covered by your business insurance? The answer? Well, it depends (on your policy).

Here are three things to know about business insurance and toppled trees.

1. Coverage details

You’re covered for the removal of the fallen trees and related damages if your policy specifically covers and lists your building and other property, such as fences, freestanding signs and outbuildings. This includes trees felled by a windstorm, lightning, hail or from the weight of ice, snow or sleet; but it doesn’t cover diseased or dead trees.

What if the tree lands on your work vehicle? If comprehensive coverage is purchased for your business vehicles, damage from fallen trees would be covered.

2. Where the tree falls is key

Where a tree falls is generally more important to an insurance company than its owner. So if the neighbor’s tree lands on your business property, you would file a claim with your insurance company. Similarly, if a tree on your business property falls in your neighbor’s yard, your neighbor should file a claim with his or her insurance carrier.

If your neighbor’s tree was in poor health or not properly maintained, then your insurance company may try to collect from the neighbor’s insurer through a process called subrogation. In some cases, you may be reimbursed for the deductible.

3. The claims process (and how to get started)

If a tree falls on your business property, take photos of the damage and contact your insurance company. Before you have the tree removed, get in touch with your insurance agent or claims adjuster, who will evaluate the damage and explain your coverage.

What about homes and cars?

You might also be wondering about damage to your home or a personal vehicle. If a tree damages your home, you may have coverage through your homeowners policy. If it smashes your car, you may have coverage on your auto policy for the damage if you have purchased the optional comprehensive coverage.

Bypass the risks with tree trimming

It’s also a good idea to keep a watchful eye on the health of the trees on your property. Most routine pruning can take place any time during the year with little effect on the tree. An arborist can help you manage tree hazards and risks. If you need to find an arborist in your area, the International Society of Arboriculture has an online directory.

Get in touch with Melendez Insurance for more information about tree damage and insurance coverage.

How Insurance Can Protect You Through the Years

November 22nd, 2016

They say that the only constant in life is change. And that’s true whether you’re 18, 80 or somewhere in between.

One thing to consider when life changes is your insurance coverage. Here are six common transitions that we can help you navigate.

You’re off to college.

With many policies, full-time students younger than 24 are automatically covered under their parents’ homeowners policy. Part-time students (or students who are 24 and older) may need to take out a renters insurance policy. If you choose to live in an apartment instead of a dorm, think about purchasing a separate renters insurance policy. (Learn more about renters insurance below.) When it comes to car insurance, you don’t need your own policy if you’re taking a family member’s car to school. If you’re a co-owner on the vehicle or if you own your own car, you probably need your own policy.

You’re renting your first place.

You found the perfect place, but since your landlord’s policy doesn’t typically cover your stuff, you’ll want to look into getting your own renters policy. In addition to protecting your belongings, a renters policy also provides worldwide liability protection for a situation like harming someone while riding your bike. If someone is hurt in your apartment, your policy most likely would pay his or her medical bills. A renters policy will often cover additional living expenses if your apartment is damaged and you can’t stay there because of something like a fire. There are many affordable options—plus, you can qualify for a discount if you purchase both a renters and an auto policy. In some cases, the discount can pay for pay for most (or all!) of the renters policy.

You just got married.

If you’re just starting out, you’ll definitely want to look into life insurance. Life insurance can be the most affordable way to help ensure that you or your new spouse is able to carry on if the unthinkable were to happen. Also remember to ask about your auto insurance. You could qualify for discounts, including a multi-car discount if both cars are insured by the same carrier. Finally, you may need extra coverage on an engagement or wedding ring. With a homeowners or renters policy, your coverage for lost or stolen jewelry is capped at $3,000. So if your ring is worth more, you’ll want to consider separate coverage.

You welcomed a bundle of joy.

You may have binkies, diapers and formula on your mind, but another thing to consider is life insurance protection for your family.formula on your mind, but another thing to consider is life insurance protection for your family. Everyone needs financial protection—even a stay-at-home parent. With life insurance, you can provide for your loved ones even if…well, you’re not there.

You retired and are renting a place somewhere warm for the winter.

No penalty for sand between the toes! If you’re going south, an extra policy is not needed in the majority of cases. That said, a lot depends on the policy you already have, how long you’ll be gone and what kinds of things you’ll be taking to your temporary home. For these reasons, it’s a good idea to check in with Melendez Insurance before you head south.

You or a loved one is entering an assisted living facility.

When it’s time for help with care, it’s a good idea to consider a renters policy if you or a loved one is entering an assisted living facility. A renters policy covers belongings—and, more important, personal liability. For instance, renters insurance could cover your loved one if he or she was responsible for injuring someone.

Many people can’t afford to pay big medical bills out of pocket, so definitely contact us before making the move.

How Do I Know Which Deductible to Choose?

October 5th, 2016

Two hands holding a white paper fortune tellerYou choose a deductible—which is the amount of money you pay before insurance kicks in—for both your auto and your home policies. Your deductible can be as little as $0 and as high as $10,000 (with lots of options in between).

If you choose a lower deductible, you can generally expect to pay more in premium. Some people prefer to keep a high deductible and pay less in premium, while others prefer lower deductibles and higher premiums.  It often comes down to your personal preferences and financial situation.

A better way to choose your deductible

Good news: you have an insurance agent who can help you select a deductible that best fits your needs. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you talk with us about deductibles.

  • Make sure you have enough money to cover your deductible. Whether your deductible is $50 or several thousand dollars, it’s important to have enough cash on hand to cover it. You’ll want to have enough money to cover the combined cost of your home and your auto deductibles. That’s because if something like a fire damaged or destroyed your home and your car, you may need enough cash to pay both deductibles.
  • Check with any lenders to see if you must meet a minimum deductible. If you have a car loan or a mortgage, your lender may say that your deductible can’t go above a set dollar amount.
  • Think about what you’d be willing to pay out of pocket. When you file a claim, it’s possible that it may cause your premium to increase. For this reason, some people opt to pay lower-dollar claims out of pocket. Think about if—and how much—you’d be willing to pay to avoid a possible rate increase, then use that information to help choose your deductible.
  • Consider different deductibles for different risks. More good news: some carriers give you the option of choosing different homeowners deductibles for wind or hail, fire or lightning, theft or vandalism, water, and named storm.  This option is known as by-peril deductibles, and it gives you more control over your deductible. For instance, if you feel the risk of water damage in your area is low, you may opt for a higher water deductible that will let you save on your premium. On the flip side, if you live in an area at risk for hurricanes, you may choose a lower deductible for named storm.
  • Check in with us every year. Your deductible is not set in stone, and you can raise or lower it as your life changes. Your insurance agent can give you solid advice and make the change for you.

How to Age Gracefully With Your Parents and Plan for the Future

September 21st, 2016

Son Giving Senior Parent Financial Advice In Home Office

Have you ever read the children’s book Love You Forever, where the mother cares for her growing son until, as a grown man, the son cares for his aging mother? The story depicts a parent/child role reversal that many experience in real life.

Talking about aging with parents can be difficult. But being honest about the topic is important. To help guide the conversation, here are four common concerns you may face with an aging parent and tips on how to address them.

Decide on Living Arrangements Early
Multi-level homes or complicated floor plans might make everyday living difficult and dangerous for aging parents. Discussing it sooner rather than later, while parents are active and not in a distressed state, can help them ease into the idea of new living arrangements like a one-story home or assisted living facility.

If parents insist on staying in their current home, consider homecare and installing assistive equipment, like handrails, as needed.

Focus on the Road
Ninety-year-old Vivian Cash, who started driving in 1949, loved the independence that comes with driving. While priding herself on never having an accident, she had a near-miss that resulted in her decision to stop driving.

“If I’m driving my car and I had a problem, I could hurt someone or myself. It just isn’t worth it,” explained Vivian. “My doctor told me I’m going to live to 100 and I’m planning a big party. I want to be here to enjoy it.”

Once you begin to notice a difference in your parents’ driving ability, consider suggesting a driving class that may help sharpen skills and also lower insurance costs. Offer to accompany them to classes so they don’t feel alone. Help map out ways for your parents to get to all of their daily activities via alternate transportation. Encourage them to sign up for group activities with friends where carpooling moves them from point A to point B.

Update Important Documents

Ensure parents have a will and that it’s been updated in the past five years. A lot can change in five years, so be sure it reflects their current wishes. Establish who will be in charge of executing the details and determine where the documents will be stored for quick and easy access.

Any updates to the will also need to be reflected in life insurance policies, since life insurance beneficiaries take precedence over what is specified in the will. Consider working with a trusted advisor who can help with insurance and retirement planning.

Gather Financial Information
Speaking of retirement planning–it’s important to discuss finances. Help your parent create a list that includes bank, benefits, pension, debt payment and other account information. You’ll also need to have ready access to usernames and passwords for each account. Keep this information in a binder or notebook somewhere like a fire-resistant safe, along with items like tax files and car titles.

Although these conversations are not easy, planning for the future will be less intimidating and will make everyone better prepared for the changes ahead.

What Happens If I Outlive My Term Life Insurance Policy?

August 8th, 2016

In the vast majority of cases, you won’t get a payout when your term life insurance policy expires. The exception is a return of premium policy, which returns all of the money you paid over the years back to you. However, the premium is usually much higher for this option than it would be for the average term life policy.

To avoid losing the premiums you’ve paid out over the years, you might consider converting your term life policy to a permanent policy like whole life or universal life. For many, life and financial circumstances might have made a term life policy the best choice in the past. Now might be the right time to change to a permanent policy.

The differences between a term life and permanent life policy

A term life policy tends to be more affordable, but only covers you for a specific amount of time. Policy lengths can last from as little as five years to as long as 30 years. You choose what works for you.

Permanent life insurance may cost more, but it lasts your entire life and can build you cash value that increases the longer the policy is in force. Most term life policies allow you to convert to a permanent life policy. Although your premium may go up, you can now have a policy that lasts your entire life and lets you build your wealth.

If you decide to convert your term life policy to a permanent life policy, you may be able to skip the medical exam or other steps that you went through to get your term life policy. It pays to convert ASAP since the sooner you open your permanent plan, the more time your money will have to grow over the course of your life.

The Ultimate Guide to Fire Extinguishers

July 8th, 2016

FireExtinguisherAfter a close call in my apartment–who knew olive oil is bad for high-heat cooking? – it dawned on me that I had never used a fire extinguisher. I’m no fire chief, but learning on the fly while your smoke detector is blaring seems like the wrong time to figure that out.

Fortunately, I removed my smoking pan from the heat before anything could ignite—but the experience left me reeling.

Don’t wait until the heat of the moment to wonder about fire extinguishers. Here’s what smart homeowners (and renters) need to know.

Do I need a fire extinguisher?

Short answer: Yes.

It’s a good idea to have at least one, although many experts, like the National Fire Protection Association, recommend having a fire extinguisher on each floor. Place yours near an exit, in an easy-to-grab spot.

A fire extinguisher can make a big difference in an emergency, but it can’t replace your most important safety tools: working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan.

What if I rent?

If you rent, your landlord is typically responsible for providing smoke detectors in each unit – but not necessarily fire extinguishers. That depends on your state and local fire codes, so ask your landlord to be sure. If you end up buying one, it generally won’t break the bank. Fire extinguishers typically run from $20 to $70, depending on the type.

Types of fire extinguishers

Not all fires are the same, and neither are fire extinguishers. The letters A, B and C on the label refer to the types of fire the extinguisher is capable of putting out.

  • Class A extinguishers are effective on fires in paper, wood, textiles and plastics. (Think “A” for “ash.”)
  • Class B extinguishers are effective on liquid fires, like those involving cooking oil, paint, gasoline or kerosene. (Think “B” for “barrel.”)
  • Class C extinguishers are effective on electrical fires and live wiring. (Think “C” for “current.”)

The best choice for your home is a multi-purpose extinguisher like ABC, which can be used on all types. You can opt for a single-use or a rechargeable model.  A rechargeable fire extinguisher is filled with either water or a powdered chemical—check your extinguisher’s label to see what to refill yours with.

Typically, fire extinguishers are sold in 2-pound, 5-pound or 10-pound canisters. Larger sizes pack more punch, but choose a size that you can lift easily. If it’s too heavy, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

How to use a fire extinguisher

First things first: If there’s a fire of any size in your home, call 911. Remember that fire spreads rapidly – even if you end up extinguishing the fire yourself, it’s a good idea to have the pros on the way to check your work.

If you do need to use your extinguisher, the National Fire Protection Association uses the handy acronym PASS:

  • Pull the pin. Grab the extinguisher, point the nozzle away from you and release the locking mechanism.
  • Aim low, pointing the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
  • Sweep the nozzle from side to side.

Use your extinguisher on a small fire that’s not growing – for example, a fire contained in a wastebasket. When fighting the fire, keep your back to a clear exit so you can make an escape if you need to. If the room fills with smoke or the fire grows, leave immediately.

If you’d prefer a hands-on learning experience, call your local fire department. Most offer training on how to use a fire extinguisher.

When to replace a fire extinguisher

Fire extinguishers don’t last forever. All models can lose pressure over time. Depending on the model, they last between 5 and 15 years – even if no expiration date is listed.

To make sure your fire extinguisher is in good working order, check the pressure gauge monthly. If it’s in the green, it’s functional. If it’s in the yellow or red, it will need refilled or serviced. Replace yours ASAP if you notice any of these things:

  • The hose or nozzle is cracked, ripped, or jammed.
  • The locking pin is unsealed or missing.
  • The handle is missing or unsteady.
  • The inspection sticker or service record is missing.

Also talk to an insurance professional at Melendez Insurance. He or she  can help make sure your home has the right homeowners insurance in case a fire happens despite your best efforts to prevent one.

How to Set Up a Home-Based Business Office

June 27th, 2016

Homepreneure-e1376337238809There’s no denying that home-based businesses are on the rise. Right now, it’s estimated that there are 38 million home-based businesses that generate $427 billion a year in the United States.

Perhaps you already have an idea for a home-based business—and maybe you’ve even thought through the risks as well as logistics like buying business insurance. If so, you’re probably focused on one of the more enjoyable aspects of your new enterprise: setting up your home- based business office.

Whether you have a spacious wing of your house or simply one end of your kitchen table, it’s your space. Not sure where to start? Then read on to get some tips to set up your home-based business office.

Supplies for your home-based business

  • Set a budget and stick to it. Chances are you don’t have an abundance of funds if you’re just starting out. That’s why it’s important to create a budget and commit to it. Thrift stores, clearance aisles and yard sales are all great ways to score good buys if you’re on a tight budget.
  • Keep your receipts. You can deduct from your taxes many items that you purchase for your home-based office.
  • Think about the equipment you really need. If you’re going to use a piece of equipment on a daily basis, buy it. For equipment you use less often, a trip to a copier or office supplies store may be more economical.
  • Invest in ergonomics. A chair is one thing you don’t want to buy online—go test a few to find one that’s a good fit. Also consider a standing desk—research shows that it’s not healthy to sit all day.
  • Stock up. Whether it’s paper, pens, printer ink or boxes, make sure to have plenty of supplies on hand. Constantly having to buy one thing at a time cuts into your productivity—plus, you can usually pay less if you buy in bulk.

How to set up your home-based business

  • Try to get some natural light. One of the best parts of not being cube-bound is having access to light that isn’t exclusively emitted from fluorescent bulbs. Beyond just looking nicer, natural light has many positive health benefits for office workers.
  • Consider noise level. Think about the noise levels both inside and outside your home for each space you’re considering. White noise can help reduce distraction as well.
  • Indulge in some aromatherapy. Scents can have a pretty big impact on your stress level and focus. Consider a room spray, potpourri or an oil diffuser. Lavender reduces stress, peppermint boosts energy and lemon is calming.
  • Don’t forget colors. Like scents, colors influence you more than you think. Learn about how color affects mood before you commit to a color for your office.
  • Get plants. Did you know that plants can make you 15 percent more productive? You don’t need a green thumb to enjoy the benefits of plants—varieties like succulents and bamboo are easy to care for.
  • Create a separation from the rest of your house. If you don’t have a separate room in your house, try to partition part of your home. Having physical boundaries helps create mental boundaries when the temptation to work around the clock hits. Having a clock in clear view and set office hours will also help you establish a line between your personal and professional lives.

Many home-based business owners don’t realize that their homeowners insurance does not protect their business in most cases. For that reason, it’s best to check with an insurance professional at Melendez Insurance. He or she can tell you more about your business insurance options and get you a free quote.