Cornerstone Insurance News
Spring Maintenance Tips
Thanks to our friends at Paul Davis for sharing the following HGTV article on spring maintenance around the home. Get a jump start on spring by using the handy checklist included and avoid preventable damage to your home and property.
Telephone Scam Information
As of 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 14th, Cornerstone was informed that a telephone scam was being conducted where the caller ID reads (402) 395-2101. This is the phone number for Cornerstone Insurance Group in Albion, Nebraska. These calls are not coming from Cornerstone Insurance Group, and the callers are not identifying themselves as Cornerstone employees. They are only using this number to look legitimate. The scammers have an accent and tell the individuals that they are victims of Internet Fraud or Identity Fraud. They then ask individuals for their personal information. Again, these calls are not originating from Cornerstone Bank or Cornerstone Insurance. The bank does not solicit for Fraud protection.
Annual Crop Insurance Appreciation Event
On Monday February 6th, Cornerstone Insurance Group welcomed 175 guests to Chances “R” in York to share food and fellowship. Those in attendance were crop insurance customers from York, Hamilton, Clay and Polk counties who were welcomed in appreciation of their continued support. Besides sharing a delicious meal, many producers and their guests left with great raffle items. Representatives from crop insurance carriers joined members of the Cornerstone Insurance and Cornerstone Bank Farm Management teams to show their appreciation in advance of the 2017 growing season.
Cornerstone Insurance Group Welcomes Murray Insurance Agency
On January 6th, Cornerstone purchased Murray State Bank. In addition to the purchase of the bank, Cornerstone also merged with Murray Insurance Agency, managed by Josh Guenthner. Cornerstone Insurance Group would like to welcome Josh to our team and express our excitement about becoming a part of the Murray community.
Josh is an Insurance Agent in Murray. He grew up in South Dakota where he obtained his bachelor’s degree from South Dakota State University. In 2009, Josh relocated to Murray, NE where he was an assistant varsity football coach and began his insurance career. Prior to joining Cornerstone Insurance Group, Josh was a property claims adjuster. Josh has eight years of experience in the insurance industry and has served various roles including: Group Insurance Benefits Service Rep, Property/Casualty Claims Adjuster, and Sales. Josh and his wife, Liz, have two young children and reside in the Village of Murray.
With this addition, Cornerstone has 40 banking facilities in 31 communities and 16 insurance agencies in the 17 county area that it serves. Cornerstone Bank has $1.5 billion in total assets and is a wholly owned subsidiary of First York Ban Corp.
As we continue to grow and expand, customer service remains our top priority. CIG is committed to the communities we serve and our customers. Thank you for trusting in us.
Holiday Fire Safety Tips
The holiday season is one of the most dangerous times of the year for household fires, so take note of these tips to reduce your risk.
Residential fires during the holiday season are more frequent, more costly, and more deadly than at any other time of the year. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) reports more than double the number of open-flame fires on Christmas Day than on an average day, and about twice as many on New Year’s Day. And when those fires occur, they do more damage: Property loss during a holiday fire is 34% greater than in an average fire, and the number of fatalities per thousand fires is nearly 70% higher. When the source of the fire is a highly flammable Christmas tree, the toll in property and lives is even greater.
To keep your household from becoming a holiday fire statistic, here are some safety tips to follow.
Cooking is the top cause of holiday fires, according to the USFA. The most common culprit is food that’s left unattended. It’s easy to get distracted; take a pot holder with you when you leave the kitchen as a reminder that you have something on the stove. Make sure to keep a kitchen fire extinguisher that’s rated for all types of fires, and check that smoke detectors are working.
If you’re planning to deep-fry your holiday turkey, do it outside, on a flat, level surface at least 10 feet from the house.
The incidence of candle fires is four times higher during December than during other months. According to the National Fire Protection Association, four of the five most dangerous days of the year for residential candle fires are Christmas/Christmas Eve and New Year’s/New Year’s Eve. (The fifth is Halloween.)
To reduce the danger, maintain about a foot of space between the candle and anything that can burn. Set candles on sturdy bases or cover with hurricane globes. Never leave flames unattended. Before bed, walk through each room to make sure candles are blown out. For atmosphere without worry, consider flameless LED candles.
It takes less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to engulf a room in flames, according to the Building and Fire Research Laboratory of the National Institute for Standards and Technology. “They make turpentine out of pine trees,” notes Tom Olshanski, spokesman for the USFA. “A Christmas tree is almost explosive when it goes.”
To minimize risk, buy a fresh tree with intact needles, get a fresh cut on the trunk, and water it every day. A well-watered tree is almost impossible to ignite. Keep the tree away from heat sources, such as a fireplace or radiator, and out of traffic patterns. If you’re using live garlands and other greenery, keep them at least three feet away from heating sources.
No matter how well the tree is watered, it will start to dry out after about four weeks, Olshanski says, so take it down after the holidays. Artificial trees don’t pose much of a fire hazard; just make sure yours is flame-retardant.
Inspect light strings, and throw out any with frayed or cracked wires or broken sockets. When decorating, don’t run more than three strings of lights end to end. “Stacking the plugs is much safer when you’re using a large quantity of lights,” explains Brian L. Vogt, director of education for holiday lighting firm Christmas Décor. Extension cords should be in good condition and UL-rated for indoor or outdoor use. Check outdoor receptacles to make sure the ground fault interrupters don’t trip. If they trip repeatedly, Vogt says, that’s a sign that they need to be replaced.
When hanging lights outside, avoid using nails or staples, which can damage the wiring and increase the risk of a fire. Instead, use UL-rated clips or hangers. And take lights down within 90 days, says John Drengenberg, director of consumer safety for Underwriters Laboratories. “If you leave them up all year round, squirrels chew on them and they get damaged by weather.”
Kids Playing with Matches
The number of blazes — and, tragically, the number of deaths — caused by children playing with fire goes up significantly during the holidays. From January through March, 13% of fire deaths are the result of children playing with fire, the USFA reports; in December, that percentage doubles. So keep matches and lighters out of kids’ reach. “We tend to underestimate the power of these tools,” says Meri-K Appy, president of the nonprofit Home Safety Council. “A match or lighter could be more deadly than a loaded gun in the hands of a small child.”
Soot can harden on chimney walls as flammable creosote, so before the fireplace season begins, have your chimney inspected to see if it needs cleaning. Screen the fireplace to prevent embers from popping out onto the floor or carpet, and never use flammable liquids to start a fire in the fireplace. Only burn seasoned wood — no wrapping paper.
When cleaning out the fireplace, put embers in a metal container and set them outside to cool for 24 hours before disposal.
Preparing Your Home and Car for Winter
As we move into the winter months, please take a look at some helpful tips from Nationwide Insurance to prepare your home and vehicle for cooler temperatures and snowy or icy roads.
Prepare your home
Clean out the gutters, disconnect and drain all outside hoses. If possible, shut off outside water valves.
According to the Department of Transportation, 22% of all vehicle crashes in the U.S. – and 16% of the fatalities – are due to severe weather such as rain, snow, sleet and ice.1 So, prepare your car for treacherous conditions and extremely cold temperatures – and know what to do if you find yourself stranded in a vehicle.
When the temperatures start to drop:
Certified Insurance Service Representative Designations
Cornerstone Insurance Group would like to congratulate Carol Scherer (1st Street), Janice Hamilton (Columbus) and Jenny Eason (Albion) on earning their Certified Insurance Service Representative designations. Recipients were recognized this week at the Independent Insurance Agents of Nebraska Annual Convention in Kearney. In order to earn the CISR designation, an agent must complete five of nine courses offered and pass an exam associated with each course, within a three year period. We are very proud of your achievement and commitment to further professional development!
By Dana Eimermann, Cornerstone Insurance Agent
Q: How does the car that I drive affect my insurance rates?
There are a few different ways that the make and model of your vehicle can affect your insurance rates. A vehicle’s safety ratings and vehicle handling are considered, as well as the cost and availability of replacement vehicles or replacement parts. Another factor considered is how frequently that type of vehicle is stolen. A common misconception is that the color of the vehicle can impact insurance rates, which is definitely not the case. Feel free to call your agent when you are considering a new vehicle purchase to get a quote on the impact to your car insurance. Just because you are purchasing a brand new vehicle does not necessarily mean that your insurance is going to drastically increase and vice versa when you purchase a used vehicle. Keep in mind that there are many factors that affect your insurance rates, and that your driving record and insurance history play a much larger role than the type of vehicle.
The issues of cybersecurity and identity theft continue to make national headlines on a weekly basis and the frequency and prevalence of corporate, retail and personal data breach incidents is alarming. According to the 2016 Identity Fraud Study, released by Javelin Strategy & Research, $15 billion was stolen from $13.1 million U.S. consumers in 2015. Government document or benefits fraud accounts for almost half of how the victim’s information is then misused, with credit card, phone or utilities and bank fraud accounting for the next 30%.
With the increased risk in falling victim to these crimes, the Federal Trade Commission has offered these five steps as proactive means to protect your identity:
Another step to take in protecting your identity is reviewing your current auto or homeowner’s insurance policy with your agent. Many insurance carriers offer identity theft coverage that can provide a variety of services to help you rebuild and recover if you become a victim. Credit monitoring services, notification to credit reporting agencies and assistance in replacing identification documents are just some of the benefits these coverages can offer. Check in with your Cornerstone Insurance agent to find out more about the options available to you with your current home or auto carrier.
Renters Insurance, What You Should Know
Does your college student need renters insurance? This is a question our agents receive quite frequently in the months before and after students return to college. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has compiled responses regarding the most frequently asked questions surrounding renters insurance. Take a look at the article below from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and reach out to your Cornerstone Insurance agent for information about how your current homeowner’s policy handles these situations and to get a quote today!
Renters Insurance for College Students
Renters Insurance Should Be Considered For College Students Living on Their Own
By the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, 2011
College students renting an off-campus apartment or house while away at school should consider purchasing renters insurance to protect their personal property, such as a computer, television, stereo, bicycle or furniture, in the event that it is damaged, destroyed or stolen.
Even if a student is a dependent under his or her parent's insurance, the student's personal property, in many cases, is not covered if the student lives off campus. Parents should check their policy or contact their insurance agent to see if renters insurance is right for their son or daughter who is away at school.
What is Renters Insurance?
Renters insurance protects your personal property against damage or loss, and insures you in case someone is injured while on your property.
Why Purchase Renters Insurance?
If you live in a rented apartment, house or condominium, your landlord’s insurance doesn’t cover your personal property in the event that it is stolen or damaged as a result of a fire, theft or other unexpected circumstance.
College students living in off-campus housing are ideal candidates for needing renters insurance, since many students bring thousands of dollars worth of personal items, such as electronics, a computer, textbooks, clothes, furniture, and a bicycle, with them to school. It is the renter’s responsibility to provide coverage for these valuable items.
However, if a college student is under 26 years old, enrolled in classes and living in on-campus housing, the student may be covered under his or her parents’ homeowners or renters insurance policy.
The premiums for renters insurance average between $15 and $30 per month depending on the location and size of the rental unit and the policyholder’s possessions.
Most renters insurance policies provide two basic types of coverage: personal property and liability. Personal property coverage pays to repair or replace personal belongings if they are damaged, destroyed, or stolen. This is the most commonly purchased renters policy.
Liability insurance provides coverage against a claim or lawsuit resulting from bodily injury or property damage to others caused by an accident while on the policyholder’s property.
Unusually expensive items, such as fine jewelry or an art collection, may require the renter to purchase additional coverage, called a “rider” or “floater”. Your insurance agent can help you determine if additional coverage is necessary.
Shop for the Right Coverage
Another important factor to look for when shopping for renters insurance is “actual cash value” vs. “replacement cost” coverage.
Actual cash-value coverage will reimburse the renter for the cost of the personal property at the time of the claim, minus the deductible. It’s important to account for depreciation when considering this coverage option. For example, if a stereo system were stolen from an apartment, five years after the stereo was purchased, the policyholder would be reimbursed for the current value of the system.
Replacement cost coverage, on the other hand, will reimburse the full value of the new stereo system, after you purchase the new system and submit your receipts. While the up-front cost is greater, you are more likely to receive accurate compensation for your possessions.
Parents' Homeowners Insurance
As a parent with your own homeowners policy, you may want to contact your homeowners insurance company and ask if your child will be covered while they are away at school. Some companies might still cover your child's belongings under your policy depending on their age and student status. However, you will still be responsible for your deductible under your policy.
Other Points of Interest Regarding Renters Insurance
When a claim is reported, the insurance company will ask the policyholder for proof of purchase for all items reported on the claim. A comprehensive list of possessions, including purchase prices, model numbers and serial numbers, will suffice. It also is a good idea to take photos or video footage of any personal possessions for documentation, making sure it is stored in a secure, off-site location.
When determining how much, if any, renters insurance you should purchase, estimate the value of your personal possessions. This is the amount of insurance you will need to replace the contents of your home if everything were destroyed.
If a college student is living in an off-campus house or apartment with one or several roommates, they may be able to purchase a renters insurance policy together. Some policies automatically extend coverage to any resident of a policyholder’s household who fits the definition of a “domestic partner.” Otherwise, consider carrying separate coverage for each of the adult tenants.
One of the smartest things you can do as a renter is reduce the chances of needing to file a claim altogether by requesting that the property owner install an anti-theft or safety device inside the rental property.
In all cases, it is recommended to reference your current insurance policy or contact your agent when deciding whether or not to purchase renters insurance for a student away at college.
Life Insurance Awareness Month
September is Life Insurance Awareness Month! Race car driver Danica Patrick is the National Spokesperson for the annual campaign that nonprofit organization, Life Happens, organizes each year. According to a 2016 Insurance Barometer Study by Life Happens, half of US households would feel the financial impact from the loss of their primary wage earner in just six months. Take the time this month to read this very informative article from Investopedia to educate yourself about life insurance and its many benefits. Your Cornerstone agent would be more than happy to visit with you regarding the options that are best suited for your needs and to help you determine an amount that you are comfortable with.
Why You Should Buy Life Insurance
By Andre McNeil, Investopedia, February 17, 2012
Deciding whether you need life insurance can be a complicated process. The decision can be even harder when you are younger. This article highlights some of the issues that you should think about. We hope that this will help you to make an educated decision.
Providing for Your Dependents If You Die
Let's start with the most obvious reason for why someone should invest in life insurance ... the fact that it can replace your income if you die before your dependents. You may want your children to go to college and your family to enjoy a certain kind of lifestyle. Likely, you still want this to happen even if you die prematurely. But, if you are the primary bread winner for your family, they may not be able to afford it if you die and do not have enough savings to cover their expenses. You can address those concerns by buying enough life insurance.
You Have Options
You have the option of buying a term life insurance policy, which would cover you for a set number of years, generally ranging from 10 to 30 years. These policies pay a benefit only during the term period that the insurance covers. These can be a good option if you want coverage for a set period, say, until the children finish college.
You also have the option of buying a whole life policy, also known as permanent life insurance. There are several types and sub categories of each type, and they usually pay a benefit to your beneficiaries when you die.
The amounts the premiums will be will depend on the policy you purchase.
Insurance May Be a Good Investment
Many young professionals are looking for investment options for their savings. For these individuals, a variable life insurance policy can provide a good addition to their investment portfolio, as it allows investments in stocks, bonds and mutual funds. These investments can allow your cash value to increase more quickly, though there are some investment risks. When choosing a policy with an investment feature, you can limit your risks by choosing one with a guaranteed minimum death benefit.
You Can Sell Your Policy
If you become terminally ill and are in need of cash to cover medical and other expenses, you may have the option of selling your policy to a viatical settlement company at a discounted price. In exchange, the settlement company would make the premium payments and in turn collect the amount of the face value upon your death. While the amount you would receive in this case is less than the amount your beneficiaries would receive, if you continued premium payments and they inherited the amount, the lump-sum cash payment can come quite in handy if you have no other cash resource.
You Can Accumulate Cash
With insurance, you also have the possibility of allocating a portion of your premiums to a cash accumulation vehicle, an option usually available under universal life insurance policies. This accumulated amount can serve as a cash reserve, and can be used to pay insurance premiums if your disposable income is no longer sufficient to pay those premiums. However, you will need to ensure that the available cash is sufficient to prevent the policy being lapsed due to unavailability of cash.
How Much Do You Need?
The amount of insurance that you need depends on what you want it to cover. Look at how much you earn, and how many years your family will need to replace that income if you die prematurely versus how much you have already saved. Also look at what items that you want to make sure would be paid for, such as college tuition for your children.
The Bottom Line
Life insurance is not for everyone. But, you should not dismiss it without doing some research. If you have others who depend on you financially, it is very likely that you need it. Your financial advisor can help you to decide which type of policy is best for you. Buying life insurance can be one of the best financial steps that you take for you and your family.
Columbus Insurance Open House on September 16th
Water Damage, Being Prepared During The Stormy Season
By Dana Eimermann, Cornerstone Insurance Agent
As we enter into the time of the year where severe weather is most prevalent, I wanted to share some information with you about water damage. With the recent storms in Lincoln, we have already had several clients asking this question, “If water comes into my basement due to heavy rain, do I have coverage?” Overall, water damage is a tricky topic in insurance as there are many factors that are examined to determine if coverage is present and each situation is reviewed on a case by case basis. The final determination is best made by an insurance adjustor after reviewing many factors in the claim scenario.
With that being said, water damage is typically excluded on a standard homeowner’s policy, but there are some situations in which the coverage could be added back. The main thing to consider is how the water is entering the home. If the water is coming into the home due to over-saturation of the ground or heavy rains, some insurance carriers will designate a limit of coverage for water damage as long as there is a working sump pump system installed to their specifications. If the water is entering the home due to a backup or blockage in the sewer system, there could be a limit of coverage if this is included on your policy. If the water is entering the home through a hole in a window that was caused by a covered peril, like hail, there could be coverage as well. Unfortunately, if the water is coming into the home through a window well or through the basement without any damage caused by a covered peril, there is likely no coverage.
Purchasing flood insurance is another way to combat the risk of water damage. However, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has a very specific definition of “flood” that needs to be met in order for coverage to apply, otherwise there is no coverage.
The NFIP defines “flood” as: A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or two or more properties (one of which is your property) from:
• Overflow of inland or tidal waters
• Unusual or rapid accumulation or runoff of surface
waters from any source
Flood insurance policies generally have a 30 day waiting period and their cost depends greatly on which designated flood zone your property falls within. For more information about water damage to your home or flood insurance policies, please contact your insurance agent as coverage can differ by insurance carrier.
Are You Covered?
By Ben Royal, VP & Manager/Certified Insurance Counselor
Last week, I was visiting with a friend, who does not have his insurance with us. He explained to me that his 19-year-old daughter was involved in an auto accident. The accident caused significant damage to both vehicles and sent the other party to the hospital. The daughter was ticketed, and rightfully so, as she was using her cell phone and turned in front of the other car. A couple of weeks ago, he got a letter from an attorney and is being sued.
My friend thought he had an umbrella policy. Come to find out, he does not have an umbrella and is now questioning whether or not his auto liability limits are adequate. His current agent is a friend and one he sees often, yet has not had a review of his insurance in quite some time.
Does this story sound similar to many of us? The friend in this story explained how he wishes he had an umbrella policy and is questioning himself as to why he never made time to review his coverage. My friend explained that although the agent never asked him to review his policy, he is taking responsibility. (That is refreshing.)
I encourage you to take time and visit with a Cornerstone Insurance Representative and review your policies.
Learn Your Coverage
By Ben Royal, VP & Manager/ Certified Insurance Counselor
What did you receive for Christmas? We have been receiving phone calls from a few of our insureds who wanted to verify coverage on their new gifts of jewelry or valuable collectibles passed down from a previous generation. Most standard homeowner’s policies limit coverage when it comes to collectibles or jewelry. A practical way to address these limitations is by scheduling the valuable item with your homeowner’s policy. A common claim that we receive is that a diamond has fallen out of a wedding ring or the wedding ring has been misplaced. If the item is not scheduled in these scenarios, then there is no coverage. If the valuable item is scheduled, then we have a happy insured as there most likely will be coverage. We encourage you to take time and meet with your insurance agent to learn the limitations that are associated with your insurance policies. Cornerstone has several knowledgeable agents who would be more than happy to meet with you.