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Why Do I need an Umbrella?

Tenant insuranceUmbrella insurance gives an extra layer of liability coverage
 

Whether it’s a serious auto accident involving pricey medical bills or an incident on your property, you can quickly find yourself responsible for damages that exceed the limits on your auto, homeowners or boat policies. And an expensive judgment is the last thing you want to worry about.
 

Umbrella insurance can provide:

  • An extra $1M to $10M of liability coverage which can help protect assets like your home, auto, boat, wages, and investments such as your retirement
  • Coverage for claims like libel, slander, defamation of character and invasion of privacy
  • Helps cover defense costs, attorney fees and other charges associated with lawsuits

 

And all this coverage extends to international occurrences too!
 

An umbrella policy is a valuable addition to any auto, homeowners or other policy for extended personal liability protection.
 

Coverage that goes above and beyond—without the huge price tag.
 

Umbrella insurance is much more affordable than you may think. And in today’s world, anyone can get hit with a lawsuit. That’s why it’s more important than ever to consider an added layer of protection for your assets—and your peace of mind!

Insurance: Finding Out What’s Right for You

Questions and answersGet a quote online, call now, get a quote in 15 minutes. Pretty appealing slogans, right? But in the rush to give you numbers fast, many insurance companies are missing the point.

 

At Stevens Insurance Agency, we’d rather take the time to get to know you. More time than just 15 minutes. Why? Because we know you’re not like anyone else. You have different hopes, needs, dreams, wants, risks and concerns that make you unlike any other person on the planet.

 

Take homeowners insurance. In a quickie quote, someone might not understand that you need sewer coverage in case that massive storm drain backs up onto your property. Or they might not know that your love of collecting art might require an additional “floater” policy. But when we sit down and talk, we know these things. And then we make sure you get the coverage that’s right for you.

 

Let’s stop rushing to get fast insurance, and make sure we get right insurance. We’ll sit down, chat and help write a policy that makes sense for who you are, what you value and what you want to protect!

Inflation Happens: Don’t Let It Derail Your Long-Term Plans

inflationA penny saved is a penny earned, right? Not necessarily. Thanks to inflation, over time that penny could be worth less than when it was first dropped into the piggy bank. That’s why if you’re investing, especially for major goals years away, such as retirement, you can’t afford to ignore the corrosive effect rising prices can have on the value of your assets.

 

Inflation Under the Microscope

Just what is inflation, this ravenous beast that eats away at the value of every dollar you earn? It is essentially the increase in the price of goods or services. The most commonly referenced measure of that increase is the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is based on a monthly survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The CPI compares current and past prices of a sample “market basket” of goods from a variety of categories including housing, food, transportation and apparel. The CPI does have shortcomings, according to economists: It does not take taxes into account or consider that as the price of one product rises, consumers may react by purchasing a cheaper substitute (name brand vs. generic, for example). Nonetheless, it is widely considered a useful way to measure prices over time.

 

Inflation has been a very consistent fact of life in the U.S. economy. Dating back to 1945, the purchasing power of the dollar has declined in value every year but two: 1949 and 1954. Still, inflation rates were generally considered moderate until the 1970s. The average annual rate from 1900 to 1970 was approximately 2.5%. From 1970 to 1990, however, the average rate increased to around 6.0%, hitting a high of 13.3% in 1979.1 Recently, rates have been closer to the 1% to 3% range; the inflation rate has been 2.06% thus far in 2014.

 

What It Means to Your Wallet

In today’s economy, it is easy to overlook inflation when preparing for your financial future. An inflation rate of 4%, for instance, might not seem to be worth a second thought until you consider the impact it can have on the purchasing power of your money over the long term. For example, in just 20 years, 4% inflation annually would drive the value of a dollar down to $0.44.

 

Or look at it another way: If the price of a $1,000 refrigerator rises by 4% over 20 years, it will more than double to almost $2,200. A larger ticket item, such as a $23,000 automobile, would soar to more than $50,000 given the same inflation rate and time period.

 

Inflation also works against your investments. When you calculate the return on an investment, you need to consider not just the interest rate you receive but also the real rate of return, which is determined by factoring in the effects of inflation. Your financial advisor can help you calculate your real rate of return.

 

Clearly, if you plan to achieve long-term financial goals. From college savings for your children to your own retirement. You will need to create a portfolio of investments that will provide sufficient “inflation-adjusted” returns.

 

Investing to Beat Inflation

Insulating your portfolio against the threat of inflation might begin with a review of the investments most likely to provide returns that outpace inflation.

 

Over the long run, 10, 20, 30 years, or more. Stocks may provide the best potential for returns that exceed inflation.2 While past performance is no guarantee of future results, stocks have historically provided higher returns than other asset classes.

 

Consider these findings from a study of Standard & Poor’s data: An analysis of holding periods between 1926 and December 31, 2013, found that the annualized return for a portfolio composed exclusively of stocks in the Standard & Poor’s Composite Index of 500 Stocks was 10.14%. This is well above the average inflation rate of 2.96% for the same period. The annualized return for long-term government bonds, on the other hand, was only 5.52%.3 In addition, the study found that the stock portfolio did not suffer a loss in 817 separate 20 year holding periods. In every period, the annual rate of return for the stock portfolio was greater than the inflation rate. The bond portfolio outpaced inflation in only 447 of the 817 20 year holding periods by a much lower margin.4

 

A Balancing Act

Keep in mind that stocks do involve greater risk of short-term fluctuations than other asset classes. Unlike a bond, which offers a fixed return if you hold it until maturity, a stock can rise or fall in value based on daily events in the stock market, trends in the economy or problems at the issuing company. But if you have a long investment time frame and are willing to hold your ground during short-term ups and downs, you may find that stocks offer greater potential to beat inflation.

 

The key is to consider your time frame, your anticipated income needs and how much volatility you are willing to accept, and then construct a portfolio with the mix of stocks and other investments with which you are comfortable. For instance, if you have just embarked on your career and have 30 or 40 years until you plan to retire, a mix of 70% stocks and 30% bonds might be suitable.5 However, even if you are approaching retirement, you may still need to maintain some growth-oriented investments as a hedge against inflation. After all, your retirement assets may need to last for 30 years or more, and inflation will continue to work against you throughout.

 

Take Steps to Tame Inflation

Whatever your investor profile, from first-time investor to experienced retiree, you need to keep inflation in your sights. Equity investing via good long term growth mutual funds may be your best weapon, and there are many ways to include them. Please feel free to call Stevens Investment Group (513-755-7536) to discuss your specific needs and options.

Protect Your Boat & Your Bike

 
Protect your boatYour Boat
 
Our protection doesn’t stop at the water’s edge. As one of the nation’s leading boat insurers, we protect fishing boats, runabouts, personal watercraft, and boats up to 50 feet in length and $350,000 in value. Our boat insurance offers:

  • Total Loss Replacement
  • Agreed Value coverage
  • Disappearing Deductibles
  • Fishing Equipment Replacement Cost
  • Personal Effects Replacement Cost
  • 24-Hour Roadside Assistance
  • On-Water Towing
  • Wreckage Removal coverage
  • Fuel Spill Liability coverage
  • Medical Payments coverage
  • Pet Injury coverage
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motorbikeYour Bike
 
Bikers have asked for: choices, uninterrupted coverage, fast claims service, and great savings. From cruisers to trikes, factory to custom, we meet these needs with coverage for all kinds of bikes, ATVs, dirt bikes—even bikes more than 25 years old. Our policy options include:

  • Coverage for accessories at the non-depreciated replacement cost
  • Coverage for safety riding apparel, including helmets
  • Coverage for transport trailers
  • Total Loss coverage
  • Trip Interruption coverage
  • Bodily Injury Liability, Property Damage Liability, and Collision coverage
  • Comprehensive/Theft coverage
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists coverage
  • Medical Payments coverage
  • 24-Hour Roadside Assistance

Boating Season

little girl boatingIt’s Boating Season
 
Every summer, our team gets calls from customers after a fun weekend on the water takes a turn for the worse. Often, these accidents could have been prevented with just a few simple precautions. Here are a few tips we like – courtesy of our insurance partners.
 
Don’t let an accident wreck your fun!
 
Life Preservers Aren’t Just for Kids. It’s not enough to just have life jackets on board — wear them! In an accident, people rarely have time to reach for a life jacket. This rule applies to adults, not just children: More people in their 30s die in boating accidents than any other age group. Life vests have come a long way in style. Today, you can even get vests for your water-loving dog!
 
Watch the Back of the Boat. Carbon monoxide kills in minutes. So tell your passengers where your exhaust pipes are located and turn off your engine when people are in the water, and don’t let passengers “ski” or “teak-surf” by holding on to the back of the boat. Both Washington and Oregon made teak-surfing illegal in the last few years, after several tragic deaths. Carbon monoxide detectors are standard on most new boats; older boats install devices for less than $100.
 
Alcohol and Boating Don’t Mix. More than 50 percent of drowning’s result from boating incidents involving alcohol. You don’t drink and drive, so don’t boat and drive.
 
Boats Need TLC Too. When you’re out on the water, make sure your gas tanks are vented and bilges are free of vapors, oil, waste and grease. Carry a charged fire extinguisher. Have your boat’s operating systems checked yearly by a certified marine technician. The Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons also offer free vessel safety checks.
 
Experience Counts! The U.S. Coast Guard says that operator errors account for 70 percent of all boating accidents. Make sure anyone who drives your boat is properly trained. You can also earn boat insurance discounts from some insurers if you complete a safety course with the Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons.
 
Sites for Information:
Coast Guard: www.uscgboating.org
Coast Guard Auxiliary: http://cgaux.org/boatinged/
Safeco tips: www.safeco.com/insurance-101/consumer-tips/your-boat
 
Watercraft Insurance
Most home insurance policies have limited coverage for boats. If you own a boat, watercraft insurance is your best bet: It covers theft, damage, and injuries or accidents while you’re on the water, as well as some of your expensive watersports gear.

Is Your Renters Insurance Right for You?

Tenant insuranceLiving in an apartment can be a pretty sweet deal. No maintenance, no pricey homeowners insurance, just easy living in a property that belongs to someone else. But it also can be easy to forget the importance of having great renters insurance to protect you in your apartment or rented home—just in case.
 
Renters insurance doesn’t just cover the stuff in your apartment—your clothes and electronics and other personal belongings. It also covers other important things, like loss of use. What happens if a tornado rips the roof off your apartment and you have to find someplace else to live? Renters insurance keeps you covered while you find a new place to live. No paying out of pocket for hotel rooms or other expenses—it’s right there in your renters insurance.
 
Renters insurance can also help protect you from lawsuits. If someone is injured in some way in your apartment or rental home, you can be held liable for the cost of that lawsuit. But if you have renters insurance, you’re covered.
 
ERIE offers some of the best renters insurance available with our ErieSecure Tenant™ program. You get all these coverages bundled into one affordable, comprehensive plan. So kick back, let someone else mow the lawn and fix the leaky roof, and relax. Contact Stevens Group to learn more.

Firework Safety

When Things go BOOM in the Night – Fireworks Safety
 
fireworksFor most of us, the Fourth of July is a time to enjoy the company of family and friends, having fun and creating memories – whether at home or away.
 
But for some families, the holiday is a nightmare. Homes each year in Ohio are damaged by wayward fireworks. Thousands of people are injured in accidents.
 
At Stevens Insurance Agency, we want your holiday to be happy, but also safe. So here are some tips to help you protect yourself and your property on the Fourth.
 
Protecting yourself (and others)

  • To minimize the risk of injury, don’t use consumer fireworks. Attend a public display conducted by professionals.
  • If using consumer fireworks, always follow instructions. Do not attempt to re-light “duds” or create homemade fireworks.
  • Never let children handle or light fireworks. Even sparklers, which burn at more than 1,000 degrees, can cause third-degree burns. Kids under the age of 15 account for approximately 40% of fireworks injuries, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
  • A responsible adult should always be present when children – even teenagers – are around fireworks. More than half of fireworks injuries happen to those younger than 20 years old.

 
Protecting your home

  • According to the National Fire Protection Association, the best way to protect your home is to not use fireworks at home.
  • Remember, fireworks can cause grass fires and other types of blazes as well. Make sure you light fireworks in a safe area, away from homes and buildings, as well as other combustible material. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergency.
  • Look out for tree limbs or bushes that could catch fire. Trimming vegetation to keep it away from your home is a good idea anyway, but it could save you from a catastrophic fire on the Fourth of July.
  • If your gutters have accumulated leaves, pine needles or other flammable material, clean them before using fireworks near your home.
  • Finally, if you won’t be home on the holiday, ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your house if others in your neighborhood will be using fireworks.

 
With some common sense and planning, the Fourth of July can be both safe and enjoyable for everyone. Whether you’re staying at home or heading out somewhere, we hope you have a wonderful time celebrating our independence!

Prom and Graduation Safety

Teen driving tips to keep prom and graduation safe
 
teen drivingHigh school is full of defining moments for teens and two of the highlights for most are prom and graduation.
 
However, this time of year often sees other, more tragic defining moments – serious car accidents involving teens who are distracted or even under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
 
At Stevens Insurance Agency, we want to help make this season one to celebrate for you and your teen. So, with the help of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, here are some tips that can keep your teen safe.
 
First, encourage your teen to follow these general safe-driving rules:

  • Absolutely no alcohol
  • Always use seat belts
  • No cell phone use (including texting) while driving

 
Special circumstances
 
Of course, special events such as prom and graduation often present special circumstances. There may be dinner with dates before the dance, and parties before or after either event. It’s a good idea to discuss your expectations well before each event, putting some guidelines into place before your teen heads out for the night. Here are some ideas:

  • Make sure you know the itinerary of the evening, as well as who else will be with your teen. You should have contact information for everyone.
  • Have a way to contact your teen at all times. You may want to require them to check in with you once or twice over the course of the evening.
  • Set a curfew, whether they are coming back to your home or staying with a friend. If they are staying elsewhere, make sure the curfew will be enforced by a responsible adult.
  • Discuss with your teen how to handle difficult situations, such as facing pressure to drink, or accepting a ride with someone who shouldn’t be driving. It’s a good idea to provide your child with money for a taxi just in case.
  • Offer a “no-questions-asked” ride home, should they need one during the evening.
  • If you’re worried about your teen driving, consider alternate transportation. A car service or limousine will provide a responsible, experienced adult driver. You also will be able to limit changes to the itinerary and contact the driver.

 
Prom and graduation are special times in a teen’s life. And just a little common sense will go a long way toward making sure your young adult is around to enjoy the other milestones that are sure to come.

Motorcycle Safety

motorcycle safetyRide safe with these motorcycle tips
 
Motorcyclists know that riding gives them a freedom that driving a car just can’t match. But the best riders also know that motorcycles require more focus to operate, and don’t provide the same protection cars do in the event of a crash. The best riders take great care in all situations, whether they’re in heavy traffic, stuck in the rain or just taking a quick ride on a perfect day.
 
If your habits aren’t as safe as they could be, or if you’re new to motorcycling, don’t worry! Instead, take time to improve. The quick safety tips below are a great place to start.
 
Want more? Check out the Motorcycle Safety Foundation or the American Motorcyclist Association. And remember to give us at Stevens Insurance Agency a call at 513-755-0200 when you need to get coverage for your bike (or your home or auto, boat or more)!
 
First things first
 

  • Wear proper safety gear and, most importantly, a helmet – no matter how short your trip may be.
  • Make sure you can be seen by other motorists. Make it easier for them by wearing reflective clothing, always using turn signals (and perhaps hand signals as well) and keeping your headlight on.
  • Even when taking the above precautions, stay alert and assume that other drivers don’t see you — especially at intersections and when making lane changes or passing.
  • Be patient. Don’t tailgate, and if someone is tailgating you, get out of their way.
  • Don’t ride after drinking or taking any medications that could impair your abilities.

 
Riding at night
 

  • Again, make sure you’re visible — particularly at dusk. Consider upgrading your headlight or adding other lights to your ride. Is your bike black? What about your clothing? Both will make you more difficult to see at night.
  • Your vision needs to be clear, so keep your visor or goggles clean and free from scratches. If you don’t use face or eye protection, consider it.
  • Carry a flashlight or other emergency gear with you so a mechanical problem doesn’t leave you stranded — and invisible — on the side of a dark road.

 
Bad weather?
 

  • Keep rain and cold-weather gear handy. Riding isn’t only more enjoyable when you’re warm and dry — it’s safer, too.
  • Use extreme caution when it first begins to rain as the roads are most slick at that point. Pull over and wait if necessary. It’s better to be late than ride in unsafe conditions.

 
We wish that all of your rides could be on sunny days with wide-open roads, but we know that’s not going to happen. So think about safety every time you start up your bike!

Daylight Savings Time is also Daylight Safety Time.

daylight savings timeIn most places in the United States, March 9th is Daylight Saving, when clocks are moved forward one hour. We here at Stevens Insurance Agency want to remind you it’s also a great time to improve your family’s safety.
 
Be safe in your home
Health and safety agencies often use the approach of Daylight Saving Time to remind people to change the batteries in their smoke alarms. The American Red Cross suggests you test your smoke alarms and talk with your family about your fire escape plan. Whether you live in Ohio or elsewhere, practice the plan too – at least twice a year.
 
Daylight Saving is a great time to check your emergency preparedness kit to make sure it’s fully stocked with fresh supplies.
 
Carbon Monoxide a concern too
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 400 people die annually in the US from carbon monoxide poisoning. The CDC recommends changing the batteries in your CO detectors when moving your clocks forward.
 
The CDC says the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.
 
See the CDC’s site for more ways to prevent carbon monoxide exposure.
 
We here at Stevens Insurance Agency hope these tips help and that you’ll consider sharing them with the people you care about so they can live safer lives too.

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