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Smart Insurance Resolutions for 2014

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Every year I make New Year’s Resolutions.  Usually they involve eating better and exercising more. (Yah right!)  Things that will improve my physical health.  This year, I am looking at my financial well being and that means digging out the insurance policies! 

Resolution #1:  Find and READ my insurance policies.  Not just the part that tells me how much is coming out of my bank account each month, but really looking at what I am covered for.  Do I have enough coverage to rebuild my home in the event of a total loss?  Is my income replacement benefit enough to pay the bills if I am severely injured in an auto accident?  Auto, home, life and other insurance needs change over time — as you move, switch jobs, add to your family, change vehicles and grow older.  I want to make sure that I have enough coverage, but also that I am not carrying more insurance than I really need.

Resolution #2:  Talk to my broker.  Parts of my life have changed, like my driving habits.  I don’t have a long commute anymore and the increasing cost of gas has meant that I don’t drive any further than I have to.  Auto insurance premiums are often driven by how often you drive and to your vehicle model, so talking to my broker about these changes should help lower my premium. 

Resolution #3:  Take stock of my possessions.  The start of a new year is a great time to update the inventory of my stuff. If I ever need to make a claim, I’ll need an accurate list.  I have also received some new presents that are worth a lot (thank you Santa) and I want to make sure that I have them covered correctly.  Is my jewelry all scheduled and valued correctly?  What about electronics, the kids instruments and sports gear?  Maybe I’ll make my inventory before I talk to my broker so they can make sure that my policy takes into consideration all of the things in my home. 

If you don’t want to take time to write things down, get your camera or smart phone out and take a video of your home, room by room, so that you can show an adjuster what you had before the loss.   You can also go to our website and download our mobile app and compile your home inventory there. 

That’s it.  That’s my resolution list.  No more than three that way I have a better shot a keeping them.  Now to dig my way through the left-over Christmas chaos and find my policies! 

 

Stag and Does and the new Liquor Laws

Stag and Does have long been a tradition in Bruce and Grey Counties. A way for the community to celebrate the impending nuptials and great opportunity to raise some funds to help the newlyweds get off on the right foot. Recently though, changes have been made to the Liquor License Act that impact the traditional Buck and Doe as we have known it.

Last night I attended a presentation given by AGCO Inspector Brian Johnston and OPP Sergeant M.L. (Mike) Pierzchalski on the recent changes to the Liquor Licence Act and Regulations and how they impact private and public events in our area.

There are now only three types of Special Occasion Permits: Private Events, Public Events and Industry Promotional Events. Family celebrations like buck and does or stag and does, weddings and anniversaries all fall under the category of Private Event. (For more on Private Event S.O.P.s check out http://www.agco.on.ca/pdfs/en/tip_sheets/3202.pdf )

Under a Private Event Special Occasion Permit:
– You can only have invited guests
– There can be no intention to profit from the sale of alcohol at the event
– You cannot advertise the event
– There can be no unlawful gambling

This is a change from the past where tickets were available at the door and if there was nothing else going on that night, the whole town might show up. Since you cannot advertise the event in the newspaper, radio or facebook in theory the only people who know about the event should be the ones that are invited. There is some added pressure on family and friends to sell tickets beforehand, but on the upside, all of those funds go to the bride and groom, so if you sell a lot before the event you know that the evening will have been a success.

You cannot profit from the sale of alcohol. Many people respond, “then what is the point of hosting the event?” The key in this regulation is that you cannot profit from the sale, however that is after all of the costs of the event have been covered. Organizers will have to do a bit more planning, but a simple budget (microsoft has several event budget templates) can be created that includes the hall rental, bartender costs, security, alcohol and mix expenses. Use your tickets sales to estimate the attendance, how many drinks you will sell and price the drinks to cover the event costs.

So how do you make money at a stag and doe? There are many ways, however many of the traditional games and raffles are no longer options since that would be unlawful gambling. OPP Sergeant Pierzchalski broke it down into five ways to generate revenue for the couple:
– Ticket Sales
– Donations (two jars at front, one with the bride’s name and one with the groom. Guests are encouraged to put a twoonie the jar of the person they do not want to see get a pie in the face.)
– Silent Auctions (get prizes donated – no liquor bottles, but you can get LCBO or Beer Store gift certificates – have people write their bids down on a piece of paper. Try to get the Bride’s side bidding against the Groom’s side to increase the bid amounts)
– Live Auction (same as above except with a lively auctioneer!)
– Games of Skill – not chance (putting contests, scoring contests, nailing the log, guessing how many jelly beans in a jar etc.)
All of the funds raised through these methods go directly to the Bride and Groom and there have been many couples hold very successful events adhering to the new regulations.

For more information on the new regulations, visit the AGCO website at http://www.agco.on.ca
To find out about the kind of insurance coverage you need to host a great stag and doe, or any private or public event, give us a call at Miller Insurance 1-800-265-3000 or visit our website http://www.millerinsurance.ca

Weathering the Storm

After the Storm

Yesterday’s events in Oklahoma remind us of how quickly life can change, that Mother Nature can do unbelievable damage and that there is no way to avoid being in the path of the storm. As my family watched the television coverage, my kids asked if it was possible for that kind of storm to hit us in Kincardine. That’s when we pulled out the tablet and started looking at photos from the F3 tornado that hit Goderich in August of 2011. Ontario has an average of 12 tornadoes a year. Most of them occur between the months of May and September and since they can strike anywhere in the province, the answer to their question was yes. It is scary at any age to think about your home being ripped apart, so we talked about the things that we could do to prepare ourselves for that kind of emergency. We went to the Ontario Government site listed here http://bit.ly/12SXNWV. It’s an online tool that helps you create an Emergency Preparedness Action Plan for your household. It shows the number of Ontarian’s that have used the tool to create a plan. Fewer than 2,500 to date, out of over 13 million households in Ontario. As Insurance Brokers, we want to help prevent or minimize losses. We encourage you to take the time to create an emergency plan for your household. Talk about it with your family and make sure everyone knows what to do in the event. Build an emergency survival kit and sign up for public alerts to be emailed to you or text messaged to your phone. Download our insurance app ( http://bit.ly/13FbyHv ) and use it to keep your insurance information at your fingertips.
As we continue to learn, we can’t control when and where a storm will strike, but we can take some steps so we are ready to ride it out.

Let us worry about your insurance so you can focus on what matters… Making your house a home.

Your home is one of the most important things in your life.  We understand and we want to make sure it’s protected.  home

In order for us to do our best for you, we need to hear from you when there are changes to your household.

Here are some events that your insurance broker needs to know about:

1.   You buy or sell a home

Your policy needs to cover the value of your new home and the cost to rebuild it, not current market value.

2.   You rent your home, or a room in your home, to someone else

Your homeowner’s policy was designed specifically for you, and sold to you with the expectation that you, the owner, would reside in the dwelling. Before you rent your home, or even a portion of it, check with your insurance broker to determine how such arrangements may affect your insurance coverage.

3.   You are leaving your home

Whether you are leaving for a week, several months or with no plans to return you should call your broker as each of these scenarios can have an impact on your policy.  Empty houses are at greater risk for loss, so if you are away from your home for 72 hours or more, there are steps you need to take to ensure that your policy will cover you if something happens.

4.   You renovate your home

When you renovate your home, you add value, so it is important to let your broker know what the real value to rebuild your home is.  It may also change the amount you pay for insurance since your premium is affected by the age and type of heating system, electrical, plumbing and roof of your home.

5.   You inherit valuables or start collecting

Most home owner’s policies have some coverage for valuables, like jewelry, art and antiques, however the amount you can claim is limited.  You will want to review your policy with your broker and make sure that you have the right amount of coverage for those things that you treasure.

6.   Your kids leave home to go to school

Even though they are leaving the nest, they can still covered by your homeowner’s policy.  Advise your broker of where your child is living so that coverage can be extended to their new dorm room, or off-campus residence.

7.   You pay off your mortgage

The day has finally come when the bank no longer owns your home.  That means they should not be listed as having an interest in your property in the event of a claim.  If you no longer have a mortgage you may also qualify for an additional discount in your insurance premium.

8.   You retire

Congratulations!  Be sure to call your broker and see if you qualify for a retiree discount. Miller Insurance  logo with locations

What to do after an accident

Imagine my surprise when after visiting our office in downtown Port Elgin, I return to my parked vehicle to find my rear bumper laying on the ground behind it.  After scratching my head briefly and wondering what happened, I notice the vehicle that hit me is still at the scene and parked behind me.  There are people in the vehicle and there is damage to their vehicle as well.  At this point there are a lot of emotions running through my mind along with a bunch of questions.  “Is everyone okay? Who do I contact? Where do I go to get my car fixed? Is my car driveable?” All of these questions can fog up your mind and confuse you. That’s why it’s important to be prepared and to know what steps to take after an auto accident.

What you should do after an accident

1. Don’t leave the accident scene – leaving the scene could lead to serious or even criminal charges.
2. Determine if there are any injuries and if so, call 911 immediately.
3. Try to determine if there is more than $1,000 in damage for the whole accident (your car and any other vehicles involved). If the damage appears to be more than $1,000, call the police and they will come and assess the scene. If the damage is less than $1,000, you still need to call the police, but they will instruct you on what to do next to assess the damages.
4. If it is safe to do so, move the vehicles off to the side of the road and make the situation safe for all, including passing traffic.
5. Collect names, addresses, telephone numbers, insurance information, license plates numbers, driver’s license numbers of all drivers involved in the accident.
6. Don’t forget about witnesses and passengers; gather their information as well – names, addresses, telephone numbers.
7. Take notes of what the immediate scene looked like – placement of trees, shrubs, stop signs, signal lights, pedestrian crossings etc. If you have a camera on your phone, take some pictures.  This will help when you report the claim to us.
8. As soon as possible call your broker or agent to report the claim. We’ll answer your questions and guide you through the claims process.

Keep in mind…

• Stay calm
• Don’t argue with other drivers, witnesses, passengers or on-lookers
• Tell your story only to the police
• Never admit liability
• If a tow truck driver suddenly appears without you calling them, don’t allow them to take your car. You have the right to choose a tow truck company or if you like, we can help guide you
• Most importantly, STAY SAFE

MIB Donate Goalie Equipment to Saugeen Shores Minor Hockey

Miller Insurance Brokers of Southampton and Port Elgin understand the importance of providing kids with every opportunity possible which is why they are proud to support Saugeen Shores Minor Hockey with the donation of goalie equipment as well as coaching resources and training aids.

Mark Rosner (right) from MIB making the presentation to Saugeen Shores Minor Hockey

Encouraging young people in our community has always been a priority of Miller Insurance Brokers and they are thrilled to be able to support the great work of the kids and volunteers coaches of Saugeen Shores Minor Hockey with this donation.

 For more on community involvement at Miller Insurance visit them at www.millerinsurance.ca or like them on Facebook.

Congrats to the Miller Mos!

Congrats to the Miller Mos! http://bit.ly/vRwWCX $640 raised to fight the number one male cancer, prostate cancer.  Thanks to those who donated.  Next year, we’ll be ready to grow mo hair for mo money!

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Local Insurance Brokers support Goderich Tornado Relief Fund

On behalf of the Grey-Bruce Insurance Brokers Association, Todd Farrell & Dave Young presented Matt Hoy (co-chair of the Goderich Tornado Relief Fund) with a cheque for $3869.72
The money was raised at the annual Grey-Bruce Insurance Brokers Association Golf Tournament. Funds will support community relief efforts following the tornado that devastated Goderich, Ontario on Aug. 21, 2011.

To learn more about the relief efforts, visit: http://goderichandareadisasterrelief.org/

Chamber Members – are you making the most of your Group Insurance Plan?

GROUP INSURANCE PLANS

Miller Insurance Brokers are proud to offer a Group Home & Auto Insurance Plan for employees of Bruce Power, the South Grey Bruce Health Centre and the Kincardine, Owen Sound and Saugeen Shores Chambers of Commerce.

Coverage is provided through the Waterloo Insurance Company, which is a member of the Economical Insurance Group, one of the largest property and casualty insurers in Canada.

Your group discount means insurance premium savings.

For a personal consultation with one of our licensed brokers please contact us at your convenience.

1 (800) 265-3000 or visit us at www.millerinsurance.ca