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7 Things to Know Before You Buy Disability Insurance

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No one wants to consider becoming disabled, but what would you do if a catastrophic injury or illness prevented you from working? Disability insurance kicks in after 90 days and would pay you up to 60 percent of your annual salary. As you consider buying this valuable coverage, remember seven important things.

  1. Assess Your Risk

    Your occupation, hobbies, family health history and current health are all factors that affect your risk for developing a disabling injury or illness. Honestly and accurately assess your risk as you decide if disability insurance is a wise investment for you. If you don't know your risk, talk to your insurance agent and ask him or her to look in the Standard Industry Code and find out if your occupation is considered high-risk.

  2. Calculate Your Average Income

    The disability insurance you're eligible for depends on your annual net income. If your income fluctuates, average your income from the last three years and use that figure to calculate the amount of disability insurance coverage you need.

  3. Perform a Needs-Analysis

    A needs-analysis reviews expenses like your mortgage, debt, savings and retirement accounts and determines how much income you need if you become disabled. With this figure, you can make sure you buy a policy with adequate coverage.

  4. Apply When You're Healthy

    Most disability insurance carriers review the medical records of potential customers and require a physical and blood tests. If you wait to buy a policy when you're injured or diagnosed with a serious illness, you may be denied.

  5. Consider Stacking

    If you purchased disability insurance years ago, you used your income at the time to determine the benefit amount. Consider purchasing an additional policy now. It stacks on top of the existing policy and covers any income difference, which gives you financial peace of mind.

  6. Shop Around

    Insurance companies offer a variety of products at varying costs. Shop around to find the policy that meets your needs.
    • Verify the carrier's definition of disability.
    • Find out if cancer in your family history automatically excludes you from getting a policy.
    • Don't rely on price alone. Check out the other benefits and features of the policy, too.

  7. Drop the Policy When You Turn 65

    You may not retire when you turn 65, but drop your disability policy anyway. If a doctor diagnoses you as disabled when you're over the age of 65, the policy won't pay because according to its definition you are retired.

Disability insurance is a valuable asset. Use these seven tips and talk to your insurance agent as you decide if it's right for you.


What is Lock Bumping?

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As many as one in five homes are invaded annually in the United States. One tool thieves use is lock bumping. They use a bump or rapping key to unlock pin tumbler locks and gain access to your home. Learn about lock bumping as you take steps to secure your home and peace of mind.

How Lock Bumping Works

Typically, you can only open a door with a key that's specific to that lock. The key's design aligns with the lock, pushes the pins into place above the shear line and unlocks the door.  A bump key is designed to also unlock a door except the thief inserts it into the keyhole and taps the key with a screwdriver or hammer. The bumping pushes the pins in the lock above the shear line and pops the lock.

Thieves can easily learn how to make a bump key thanks to numerous online how-to videos and instructions. With a collection of 10 different bump keys, they can open 90 percent of the doors in the U.S., and the entire process takes a few seconds. Tips That Protect Your Home From Lock Bumping

Protect your home and prevent lock bumping with several steps.

  1. Buy a different pin tumbler lock. Certain locks are harder to bump. When shopping for new locks, look for ones that are:
    • Made with security pins
    • Not made from hardened steel
    • Designed with programmable side bars and not top pins
    • Equipped with a trap pin
    • Shallow drilled where one of the interior pins is slightly shallower than the others

  2. Change the spring tension. Stronger top springs in the lock make bumping harder, so ask a locksmith to make at least two of the top springs firmer.

  3. Replace the traditional pin tumbler lock. Instead, invest in a disk tumbler, time, combination, electronic or electromagnetic lock. They don't contain pins and are less vulnerable to bumping.

  4. Reinforce existing locks. If you don't want to replace all the locks in your home, replace the door's metal strike plates. It mounts on the doorjamb and costs about $10.

  5. Lock your door always. Whether you're hanging out at home, working in the yard or garage, going to work or taking an extended vacation, lock your doors. Don't make it easy for a thief to enter your home!

  6. Purchase adequate insurance. Homeowners and renters insurance won't prevent lock bumping, but it can give you peace of mind. With the right insurance, you can replace any of your possessions that are lost, stolen or vandalized.

Your home's security and peace of mind are vital. Understand and prevent lock bumping as you protect your home and family.


What Timeshare Insurance Do You Need?

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A timeshare is one way to vacation in style since it gives you access to your favorite vacation destination. When you purchase a timeshare, you can choose from three different types - deeded ownership, right to use and points. Before you embark on your next trip, make sure you purchase adequate timeshare insurance.

  1. Deeded Ownership

    With a deeded ownership timeshare, you buy the timeshare and then live there a few weeks out of every year. When you're not there, other people use it. Because you own the unit, you may sell, lease, bequeath or donate it.

    Title insurance is the first type of insurance you should buy for a deeded ownership timeshare. It ensures the title for the unit is free and clear and indeed legally owned by you.

    Purchase deeded timeshare property insurance, too. It covers your timeshare property against losses from fire, weather, vandalism and theft.

    Consider a comprehensive policy that insures the building and your contents and provides liability coverage as well. The contents policy covers the possessions that are in the timeshare. Liability coverage can pay medical expenses or court costs if someone is injured while staying at your timeshare, and it pays for damages a friend may do while staying in your unit.

  2. Right to Use

    This type of timeshare is one that you rent or lease for a set number of years. You do not own the timeshare but can rent, transfer or bequeath the right to use the unit.

    Because you do not own the timeshare, you will not need to purchase property insurance. The actual timeshare management company or develop will carry this coverage. However, you may pay for that insurance coverage as part of the unit's maintenance fee.

    What you will need to purchase is contents and liability insurance policies. Your full-time homeowner's policy may provide the contents and liability coverage you need, but read the policy carefully to be sure.

  3. Points

    Some timeshare developers or club managers sell points you can redeem for your vacations. This option gives you flexibility in where you stay, and the points may be redeemable for travel and other vacation-related expenses.

    If you participate in a points timeshare, the timeshare developer or club manager will usually pay for property insurance. You should read the timeshare contract and find out if content and liability coverage is also paid for or if those policies are your responsibility.

The timeshare you choose determines the type of insurance you need. With all three choices, review your contract carefully to find out what's covered. Then talk to your insurance agent as you purchase the right timeshare insurance for your needs.


Is It Cheaper to Insure an Old or New Car?

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How old's your car? To save money, you may prefer to invest in older model cars. The insurance costs could take away any financial benefit, though, so understand if it's cheaper to insure an old or new car.

Drop Comprehensive Coverage

Older cars depreciate in value. Find your car's value in Kelly Blue Book or Edmonds then check your insurance policy. If you're paying more for your comprehensive coverage than the car is worth, drop it and save money.

Your Age Matters

If you're a young or senior drivers, be prepared to pay higher auto insurance rates because statistically drivers in these age groups have a high risk of accidents. On average, middle age drivers enjoy the lowest insurance rates.  

Check Out the Safety Features

The safety features on your vehicle can lower your insurance rates since they reduce accidents. Older cars without safety features such as automatic brakes and back-up cameras may be more expensive to insure.

Drive Safely

The way you drive can actually influence your auto insurance rates more than your car's age. Maintain a clean driving record to get the best rates.

Know Other Factors that Determine Insurance Rates

Your car's safety features, your age and your driving record impact your insurance rates. Other factors can affect your policy's costs, too.  Those factors include:

  • Marital status
  • Gender (depending on the state in which you live)
  • How often and where you drive the vehicle
  • Claim history

How to Lower Your Rates

You increase your chances of earning low insurance rates when you take several steps.

  1. Don't drive while you're distracted. Pay attention to your surroundings and keep your focus on the road.

  2. Obey traffic laws and follow posted signs.

  3. Choose a high deductible. By increasing your deductible, you can lower your annual vehicle insurance costs.

  4. Improve your credit score. Many insurance companies use your credit score to decide if you're a good insurance risk, so improve your score to get lower insurance rates.

  5. Add a vehicle. Instead of purchasing two different insurance policies, add the second driver in your home to your policy and save money.

  6. Bundle different policies. Purchase auto insurance from the company that also insures your home or rented apartment, and you'll get a discount on your car insurance.

While the age of your car does affect your car insurance rates, other factors also determine the amount of insurance premiums you pay. For more details, talk to your insurance agent. He or she can also suggest additional steps you can take to lower your rates and get the insurance coverage you need.