Sailboat

Best Practices for Safe Boating

Sailboat

The weather is nice and the water is calling. The boat is dusted off and you’re ready to drop it in the lake for the season. Or maybe it’s your first boating year on the river and while you’re excited to take the family out, you might not be entirely clear on the rules of the water. 

Whether you’re feeling like Captain Ahab or a fish out of water it’s always a good idea to brush up on safety measures for yourself and others. You’re in luck! We’ve rounded up some resources, best practices, and good reminders for this year’s boating fun. 

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Boating regulations can fluctuate with the tides. Make sure you’re familiar with updated laws by going to The National Association of State Boating Laws, for any updated information or questions you may have.

Did you know the operator of a boat is responsible for having the proper safety equipment onboard? This includes a life jacket that fits every person.

Boating is fun for the whole family as long as it’s done safely. Make sure your child has their life jacket on and buckled. If they’re below decks it’s ok to have it off in Illinois, but snap it right back on when they go back on deck.

  1. Short answer: don’t do it. Long answer: according to a study done by the US Coast Guard in 2017, alcohol is the leading known contributor to boating accidents and death. Here’s a short video reminder of why it’s important to stay safe and stay sober. 

In Illinois persons between the ages of 12 and 17 years old are required to take a boating safety course if they wish to operate a motorboat by themselves. As for everyone else, the US Coast Guard highly recommends it.  You may already have a driver’s license and know how to drive safely but a boat on the water is a bit different than a car on the road.

There’s a boat noise limit on many waterways and depending on where you are, the limits fluctuate. If you’re zooming around in a loud boat on the lake this weekend you could land yourself a big, fat, citation. Spare yourself the pain by educating yourself on the maximum noise level for motorboats in your state.

We’re not talking about sunscreen, we’re talking about insurance. Call Snyder Insurance to make sure you’re covered and we’ll set you up with a good rate on your boat policy.

Disaster Preparedness

Disaster Preparedness

Disaster Preparedness

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. Infamous words from Benjamin Franklin and the rule of thumb in disaster preparedness. Having a plan, one that everyone in your household knows and understands, is one of the most important things you can do for your family. 

It’s not about how simple or elaborate it is, the critical part is to simply have one. Take a tornado for example: A common occurrence in the midwest springtime it’s not unusual for a tornado to form and touch down in the middle of the night. Think about waking up to a twister coming through your neighborhood like a freight train at 3 AM — not the best time to make a plan. But it is an excellent time to execute the plan you have already made and practiced. 

Here are some key points to consider when creating yours:

 FEMA suggests that every household have an easy-to-carry bundle of supplies like water, food and medications to last at least three days. In addition to one in your home, you may want to keep an emergency kit in your car, because you never know when disaster might strike. Here is a list of items to include in your kit.

There are some places you absolutely should not be in the event of severe weather. For instance, If you live in a mobile home you should leave and take shelter in a sturdier building. If you happen to be driving during a disaster locate a truck stop or some other well-built structure such as a highway underpass.

Practice for the worst-case scenario. Run drills at home so you aren’t stuck figuring things out in the middle of an actual disaster.

Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and determine how you will work together as a team.

The Red Cross advises practicing evacuating your home twice a year. Grab your emergency kit, just like you will in a real emergency, then drive your planned evacuation route. Plot alternate routes on your map in case roads are impassable. Make sure you have locations and maps saved on devices, GPS units, and on paper.

Plan ahead for your pets. Keep a phone list of pet-friendly hotels/motels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes. Remember, if it’s not safe for you to stay home, it’s not safe for your pets either.

Eventually, after the imminent danger passes, you’ll want to assess the damage to your home and property. If you have a claim you’ll also want to contact your Snyder Insurance Representative. This is what we’re trained to do — walk you through the claim process, answer any questions, and in general be a friendly voice on the other side of the phone.

Flood Insurance

A Case for Flood Insurance

Flood insurance seems very straightforward:

You buy or build a  home near water. You know you’re running the risk of flooding. As a responsible homeowner, you purchase a homeowner’s insurance policy. Now you’re covered for flooding. Right? Most likely, no.

Flood Insurance

In fact, there are a couple of costly assumptions in this seemingly simple statement. 

Consider this: It’s spring and it’s been raining more than normal. The weather is looking downright nasty and the storm drains in your neighborhood are already blocked and filling up. When the water starts to creep down in your basement it will take less than a foot of water to cause tens of thousands of dollars in damages. 

You didn’t get a flood insurance policy because you’re not in a flood plain. There’s not a river or lake within 75 miles of where you live. But floods aren’t only caused by rivers and lakes. They also result from levee or dam failures, broken water mains, and in the scenario above, clogged storm drains. In fact, according to FEMA, 99% of US counties were impacted by floods between 1996 – 2019. The numbers speak for themselves; your home will, at some point, most likely be subjected to flood waters. 

It should also be noted that the average homeowner policy doesn’t cover flooding. And while you likely feel you already pay too much for insurance, we at Snyder Insurance think not being properly covered comes at an even larger price. The National Flood Insurance Program reports that the average flood payout claim in 2019 was $52,000 and the average annual flood insurance policy premium in that same year was just $700. 

When you weigh it out, paying tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket versus a few hundred dollars a year seems like a simple choice. One that your Snyder insurance representative is happy to talk over with you. 

For more information or to add this coverage to your existing homeowners policy, get in touch, we’re here when you’re ready. 



Sources: Fema

equipment breakdown

What is Equipment Breakdown Coverage And Why You Should Consider Getting Some

What is Equipment Breakdown Coverage And Why You Should Consider Getting Some

equipment breakdown

You own a home and consequently have a corresponding homeowners insurance policy. Well done and also this is the minimum amount of coverage you should have for this important asset. 

In a previous post we spoke about the importance of having coverage for the utility service lines leading into and out of your home.  Similarly, equipment breakdown coverage is an additional, inexpensive endorsement that is meant to cover household appliances that stop working in case of electrical or mechanical failure. While your regular homeowners policy will cover appliances if they are lost or damaged in a bad storm or fire, there is little to be done outside of these instances. 

Equipment breakdown coverage functions similarly to a home warranty, covering everything from furnaces to refrigerators to air conditioners if they break down. The difference is that you can add equipment breakdown coverage to your home insurance policy as an endorsement at a nominal fee; a home warranty is typically a separate product that you buy through a separate entity.

Here are some examples of covered equipment:

  • Heating and air conditioning systems
  • Computers and computer equipment; data restoration
  • Refrigerators and freezers
  • Food spoilage
  • Washers and dryers
  • Ovens and microwaves
  • Boilers and furnaces
  • Water heaters
  • Home entertainment systems
  • Sump pumps
  • Some home gym equipment like a treadmill
  • Jacuzzis, hot tubs
  • Electrical power panels
  • Home security systems

Your equipment breakdown coverage endorsement will typically reimburse you for physical loss or damage resulting from:

  • Mechanical breakdown
  • Accidental breakdown caused by improper installation
  • An artificial electrical current, like electric arcing
  • Pressure systems breakdown

However, it will not cover for appliance replacement or repairs if the damage or loss is caused by wear and tear, including rust or corrosion, deterioration, any defects, mold, cracking, shrinking or expanding, or pest damage. 

For pennies a day this endorsement is something we encourage all homeowners to consider adding their existing policy. Think of it as a well-deserved homeowner upgrade that will likely pay off in the end. 

For more information or to add this coverage to your existing homeowners policy, get in touch with your Snyder Insurance representative today. 

Service Line Coverage

Service Line Coverage — The Coverage You May Not Have Heard About That You Absolutely Need.

The Coverage You May Not Have Heard About That You Absolutely Need.

Service Line Coverage

Picture this: It’s a Sunday afternoon and suddenly you’ve lost water pressure. There’s a trickle of water coming out of your bathroom faucet and there’s no chance the last load of weekend washing is going to get done. You’re not sure what the issue is. Sure, it’s a pain to deal with but you’re not worried because you have a homeowners insurance policy. 

While losing water pressure doesn’t regularly happen it is fairly common to think that a homeowners policy will cover any homeowner issues that may arise. However, this would be incorrect. While a homeowner’s policy covers any issues that arise within your home there are plenty of issues that can occur outside your home and still affect everyday living.

Let’s take the situation described above. A loss of water could be an issue with the pipes leading into your home: those on your property but exterior to your home. It  could be from an old growth tree root that has penetrated your water pipe. Once it’s on your property it’s not the city’s issue it’s yours and a normal homeowners policy is not going to cover the cost as it’s outside the home. 

According to one estimate, the average cost of installing/replacing a water service line can be over $2,500.

Enter Service Line Coverage. Underground service lines are exterior pipes and wiring that provide services to a home. These lines can be damaged by causes not covered by the standard homeowners insurance policy. Coverage can often be purchased for a nominal annual fee that can add up to thousands of dollars in repair savings that would otherwise come out of your pocket. 

Coverage could include:

  • Underground service line repair or replacement costs
  • Excavation costs required to repair or replace the covered service line 
  • Damaged trees, shrubs, plants, lawns, walkways, and driveways
  • Additional living expenses while repairs are made

See below for the types of underground service lines covered and the most typical causes of failure. 

Types of underground service lines covered:

  • Natural gas
  • Steam 
  • Waste disposal 
  • Water 
  • Drainage 
  • Compressed air 
  • Electrical
  • Heating 
  • Communications 

Typical causes of an underground service line failure:

  • Wear and tear or deterioration 
  • Rust or other corrosion
  • Mechanical breakdown 
  • Damage from weight of vehicles, equipment, animals, or people
  • Artificially-generated electrical current 
  • Freezing or frost damage
  • Vermin, insects, rodents, or other animals
  • Collapse
  • Tree root or other plant root invasion 

For more information or to add service line coverage to your existing homeowners policy, get in touch with your Snyder Insurance representative today!

To learn more about home insurance and how to protect your assets, please click here.

Castaway - A Real Life Insurance Scenario

Castaway – A Real Life Insurance Scenario

We’ve all seen Castaway, right?

Tom Hanks’ plane crashes, he ends up stranded on a deserted tropical island for four years with an inanimate volleyball named Wilson as his only friend and courageously sails his way off the island.

Now, I don’t consider myself to be an emotional crybaby but the scene where Tom Hanks realizes he can’t swim to save Wilson and apologizes profusely to a blood-faced volleyball always causes me to ugly cry.

Every. Single. Time.

But it got me thinking.

What happens to your life insurance policy?


Interested in getting your life insurance policy set up? Check out my life insurance page!

Medical insurance cards

New Health Insurance, Now What?

New Health Insurance, Now What?

1. Understand your Health Care Coverage

Take some time to acquaint yourself with the costs and fees of your shiny, new policy. The points of your policy you’ll want to know inside and out are: co-pays, emergency room fees, prescription coverage and your annual deductible. Understanding these fees and terms will help you in making good financial and health decisions.

For example, if you’ve already met your deductible for the year and your doctor wants to take care of some routine matters, great! It makes sense to have them done in the year your deductible has been met. 

2. Take control of your health

Most insurance companies reward those who have healthy habits and take preventive health measures seriously.  Make it a point to find out what healthy perks are available to you as a policy holder. From gym memberships to fitness trackers and even discounts on other healthy living products and services — you could be paying for something out of pocket that your insurance policy will cover! 

3. Choose your Primary Care Provider

Not all plans require a designated primary care physician but even if they don’t it’s worth searching online to see who’s in network and covered by your new plan. It can be a costly mistake to schedule an appointment with a physician you’ve seen in the past who may now be out of your network. Plus, putting in the work upfront puts you in the driver’s seat of your health. You’ll be confident and prepared when you have to go in rather than scrambling at the last minute to locate a physician when you really need to see one. 

4. Be Prepared For Your First Visit

If this is your first time seeing a new physician know your family history and have a list of your current medications ready. Also, take the time to make a list of any health concerns, questions, and take notes. This is the time to establish a relationship with your doctor. 

New Car? Make sure it’s protected!

Congratulations on Purchasing Your New Car!

Now, Let’s Make Sure You’re Covered.

Buying Car

Consider this scenario: It’s a holiday weekend and you’re out and about. Maybe you’re doing errands and also plan on dropping by the Honda dealership to ask a couple of questions you have for an upcoming car purchase later in the year. You’re a planner and like to know all the details up front and in advance. Maybe you’ll spend a half hour on some quick research and then on to that new lunch spot in town you’ve been meaning to try out.

But wait. Your simple research trip quickly takes a turn toward an actual purchase because the saleswoman shows you the model, color, and style of car you’ve been eyeing and it’s well under the normal asking price. It’s too good to pass up, but you’re worried: You haven’t called your insurance agent in advance and it’s Sunday, their office is closed. Will this new car be covered?

Great question and also a common one. The short answer is yes it is. But let’s talk about the longer answer. In this case the car you’re buying is a replacement car for the one you previously owned. Most companies provide automatic coverage equal to the coverage you have on your current or other cars you own. In other words, if you already have a car insurance policy in effect and you purchase a new vehicle, that policy will cover you. Great news. 

It should be noted that the amount of time before you need to update your agent depends on your insurance company. It’s not unusual to have a four day window of time. In this scenario, if you buy the car on a Sunday afternoon and the office opens on Tuesday morning after a holiday weekend, you’re covered. 

The type of coverage depends on the wording in your current policy. If you currently only have liability coverage, the same will be true for your new car. Remember: If you’re financing the vehicle it’s likely the bank will require collision and comprehensive insurance. If your current policy only has liability coverage, then you would not have the required coverage to drive off the car lot. In this case, it’s vital to contact your agent before your purchase. A major bummer, but also it’s better to be covered up front then finding yourself in a compromised insurance situation down the road. 

After signing on the dotted line, at your earliest convenience call your insurance agent and give them the year, make, model and VIN number of the vehicle and if applicable, the contact information for any lender or leasing company. 

Is a new car purchase in your future? Contact your Snyder Insurance agent today to better understand the ins and outs of your coverage. You’ll be happy you did when you’re driving your new wheels off the lot with confidence. 

Family

Life Insurance is for those you LOVE

Life insurance is for those you LOVE!

Life insurance isn’t typically light and fun dinner time conversation. In fact, most people don’t want to talk about it all. But we believe that preparing for the future and everything that may come with it doesn’t have to be heavy or depressing. Instead, think about it as an act of love. Yes, love.  Because life insurance isn’t about you. It’s about caring for your loved ones and providing them the gift of removing financial burdens in the event you’re unable to. It’s both a timely and worthwhile topic so let’s dive in, shall we?

Let’s begin by discussing a main distinction between the types of policies — Term life Insurance versus Whole Life (also known as Permanent) Insurance. Both are useful policies in their own right, but your family’s needs will dictate which policy is the most appropriate. 

1. Term Life Insurance

 It’s just as it sounds, it’s life insurance that provides protection for a specific period of time. It insures against the unthinkable – a premature death. This type of policy only pays your beneficiaries if your death occurs within the period of time you’re covered. Otherwise, it expires with no value. 

Typically, these periods of time, or “terms”, are offered in increments of 10, 20 or 30  years. When choosing a term you’ll want to consider several factors like the number of years left on your mortgage and how many years before your children become independent.

2. Whole Life Insurance

Whole Life Insurance – Like you would expect from the name, whole life insurance can provide life-long coverage. This type of policy, similar to term insurance, will pay your beneficiaries if something should happen, but it typically includes an investment component that can be used by the owner throughout the policy’s lifetime. 

Understandably, because it offers lifelong coverage as well as the potential for cash value benefits, whole life insurance is typically a more expensive option but one used by those who have some expendable cash and want coverage for their loved ones. 

Typically, these periods of time, or “terms”, are offered in increments of 10, 20 or 30  years. When choosing a term you’ll want to consider several factors like the number of years left on your mortgage and how many years before your children become independent.

Family

Regardless of the type of insurance you choose, both will cover bills your family may face immediately after your passing. Things such as burial costs, outstanding bills, mortgage payments, etc. All those worrisome costs that can keep them from focusing on getting through a tough time. 

By having a plan in place and replacing your income after you’re gone, it can mean the difference between having to move out of the family home, getting a second job or being able to afford child care and paying for college tuition. The stakes are high when it comes to the love you have your family. Schedule a call with your insurance agent today and show your family how much their welfare means to you this Valentine’s Day season. 



Winterize Your Life

Winterize your life!

Well, maybe not your life but certainly your home and vehicles. With October ushering in an early snow event this year (hello snowy trick or treating) it’s bound to be a long, cold winter season. Prepare yourself and your belongings the best you can with these winterization and safety tips.

Clean Your Gutters

With temperatures plummeting ice forms (and falls) quickly. Cleaning out leaves and debris from your gutters at the beginning of the season will prevent icicles and ice dams forming later. 

Window Insulation Film

Window Insulation Film

Listen, we know it’s not all that fashionable, but it you have single-pane or a drafty window not only are you looking at a cold winter sitting on the couch, you’re also likely staring down a costly utility bill. You may want to consider breaking out the hairdryer and putting some plastic film in place for the coldest months. The difference could be dramatically warmer and cheaper!

Change Your Furnace Filters

Now that you’re going to be spending considerably more time inside, running your furnace, change the air filter. It will save you money and also it’s good for your health. 

Check Your Fireplace

Before you build the first fire of the season have a professional out to service and clean the chimney. It’s not uncommon for them to become obstructed with an animal nest or an abundance of creosote build-up.

Now that your house is in order, let's talk about what you can do to prepare your vehicle for freezing temperatures and cold weather driving.

Slow Down

I know it sounds so simple but how many times have you been on autopilot to and from work and the next thing you know you’re driving way too fast for the road conditions. Winter is the time of black ice and good time to take your foot off the accelerator.

Check Your Tire Tread and Tire Pressure

If you’ve known in the back of your head it’s time to change out your tires, make this a priority before the mercury drops lower. There’s no better way to make it home safely than to have four good tires carrying you home.

Check Your Battery

Your battery, an intregral key to the wellness of your car. Cold temperatures can zap an already old or low battery in the blink of an eye. To prevent breakdowns and side of the road mishaps spend the money and update old batteries ahead of time. 

Stock Your Car

Not only with gas in the tank and oil under the hood, which are also important, but also with emergency supplies. You never know when you’re going to get caught on the side of the road in the middle of a crazy blizzard. Having an extra layer of clothes, something to eat, and water to drink can be a total game changer. Check out this list to see the other things you also might consider having on hand this winter.

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Updated 8/10/2020