The Importance of an Emergency Fund

Preparing for a financial emergencyWe believe the more you’re prepared for an emergency, the less likely it will happen and even in an emergency situation, you’ll be better equipped to manage it because of your preparation.

Why create an emergency fund? Unexpected expenses are a part of life and relying on credit cards to help you manage unanticipated costs can accumulate significant interest charges. Tapping into your retirement fund can have expensive tax consequences and relying on friends or family can cause personal stress.

How much do you need to save? Experts recommend stashing away 6 months of living expenses in your emergency fund.

There are many situations when you may be required to access these available funds:

  • Job loss or layoff
  • Out-of-pocket medical expenses
  • Unexpected pet care costs
  • Exterior home maintenance repairs
  • Appliance repair or replacement
  • Car repair
  • Unexpected travel expenses
  • Paying for a loved one’s funeral

Finally, we’d like to leave you with a few other considerations when preparing for a financial emergency.

Be sure you’re aware of your insurance policies coverage and limitations.

Learn when it’s right for you to make an insurance claim; home or auto.

If you find it difficult to save money, here are some great tips.

We wish you all the best. If we can help you, please reach out to us: 519-736-8228

Help! There’s Water in My Basement!

Water Damage in BasementThe effects of water in your basement can be financially devastating and a frustrating process for homeowners, and unfortunately, once water penetrates your home, the problem doesn’t remedy itself.

There are a variety of ways water can enter your home:

  • Through cracks in the walls or foundation of your home
  • Through sewer and drainage backups
  • Sump pump failure

What to do if you discover water in your basement:

  • Ensure it is safe to enter your basement.
  • Take photos or video and document the damage and suspected cause of the water penetration.
  • Determine if the damage warrants an insurance claim (When Should I File an Insurance Claim? How to File an Insurance Claim).
  • Search for a reliable basement repair specialist to permanently solve your basement’s water problem.

Permanently fixing a leaky basement can be expensive, but consider that this issue won’t go away on its own, it may cause worse damage in the future, it affects the enjoyment of your home as well as resale value.

How to find a basement contractor

  • Ask family or friends for a referral
  • Research online reviews
  • Check their standing with the Better Business Bureau
  • Ensure they offer written and transferable guarantees and warranties

Insurance tip: Whether you’ve had water damage in your home or not, it’s important to be fully aware of the scope and limitations of your home insurance policy. Please reach out to us if we can help you understand your coverage.

Purchasing a Car: What’s Important to You?

Important Factors when purchasing a vehicleThere are many factors to consider when buying either a brand new, or a used car.

What’s important to you?

In the 2016 JD Power and Associates Initial Quality Study, “expected reliability” tops the list (and has for many years), as the most important factor when buying a new vehicle.

Expected reliability is related to the vehicle performing well and not requiring repairs. Purchasers expect a new vehicle to be problem-free for 3 years. The reliability of a car also affects the resale value.

Other factors important to the vehicle purchase decision:

  • Exterior styling
  • Previous brand model and experience
  • Reputation and reviews
  • Ride and handling
  • Price or payment
  • Safety
  • Fuel economy/range
  • Quality of workmanship

It is however noteworthy that not many people would purchase a very reliable vehicle, with a great reputation, reviews, ride and handling if they find the exterior unattractive!

“Reputation” is a factor in some purchases when the vehicle is viewed as a symbol of status for the owner. For many years (and to this day) the brand of Cadillac was synonymous with luxury, but according to the latest Consumer Reports Guide, the Cadillac Escalade is the least reliable of all vehicles in the study!

When purchasing a new car, only you can decide what’s important. There’s a wealth of information available online to help you make an informed decision. Speaking with family members and friends about their experience is helpful as is incentives offered by the dealer (such as low cost, long-term maintenance packages to help keep your vehicle running well).

Helpful resources:

Consumer Reports – 7 Cars Owners Regret Buying

Top-Ranked Cars, Trucks, and SUVs in the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Initial Quality Study

Consumer Reports – The Least and Most Dependable Vehicles by Class

Speak to your insurance professional before making a purchase

Why?

Your insurance premium will be affected by the type and make of the vehicle you choose. Either higher or lower insurance premiums may be a factor when budgeting for a new vehicle.

If you’re in the market for a new vehicle and have narrowed your choice down to a few, please give us a call for a friendly, free, no-obligation quote; we’re here to help. 519-736-8228

How to File an Insurance Claim

How to File an Insurance Claim Gibb Insurance Brokers AmherstburgIf you ever need to submit an insurance claim, it’s important to remember two points:

  1. The more thorough the information sent to your insurance professional, the better.
  2. The faster you’re able to submit the information, the faster the claim process can begin.

Here’s a list of information necessary to file an insurance claim;

  • Your complete contact information
  • Your insurance company and policy number as related to the claim you are submitting (auto or home policy numbers as example)
  • The date, time and location where the incident occurred
  • The police report if available, including the officer’s name and badge number
  • A thorough description of the event pertaining to the claim
  • A complete description of the loss or damage
  • Any photographic or video evidence of the event, loss or damage
  • The names and contact information of any other involved persons or witnesses (such as when involved in an automobile accident)
  • A description of any injuries as well as the names and contact information for all involved persons
  • Any receipts or statements related to the claim (such as needing to rent a car)

When it comes to your insurance and choosing an insurance professional, it’s advantageous to work with a local insurance professional: someone you can speak with immediately, in person to help you through the process – someone who truly has your best interests in mind. That’s why we’re here for you at Gibb Insurance Brokers. Please reach out to us anytime if we can help you.

chris@gibbinsurance.ca
519-736-8228
Fax: 866-843-7818
24 hours claims service available at 1-800-668-6100

Do This One Thing

Documenting your personal details - Insurance advice Gibb Insurance BrokersLikely there are “things” that you know you should do, but for a variety of reasons you haven’t done… yet… home maintenance to-do’s, maybe updating your will, getting an oil change… when we take the time to perform these pesky tasks, we feel better.

Here’s one thing we recommend adding to your to-do list: documenting and storing your personal details and financial information.

No one expects something bad to happen to them, but being prepared can save your loved ones considerable time and grief. What if you were unable to preform your normal day to day routine? Would your loved ones know who to contact for your insurance? Investments? Banking?

Here are some suggestions of what to include in your personal file:

  • Will (Power of Attorney, living will and funeral arrangements)
  • Personal medical information and history (doctor’s names and contact information, prescriptions, allergies, etc.)
  • All banking information (location, account numbers and passwords)
  • Insurance information (contact name and details, travel medical insurance and all policy numbers)
  • Investment details (contact name and details)
  • Mortgage, lease, credit card, line of credit and/or loan details
  • Vehicle information (copy of the ownership, insurance and loans)
  • Home inventory 
  • Copies of your passport, health card and driver’s license
  • If you have minor children, record all their information as well: doctor’s name, medical histories, insurance, investments, bank accounts, etc.

Further advice:

This information needs to be accessible to a spouse, a child, a trusted person or your lawyer in the event something unexpected happens to you. It should be stored in a secure location, such as a fire-proof safe, a safe deposit box or at a lawyer’s office which your trusted person can access.

The documentation can be stored electronically on a USB flash drive or on paper. Discuss with your trusted person the best format for them.

Your personal file should be updated anytime there is a change.

Documenting and sharing your personal details will make the lives of your loved ones easier in the event of a significant life change. Do it today and feel assured that your family is prepared and protected.

Keeping Your Home Dry

Basement Systems SuperSump installed with air tight lid, water watch alarm and perforated liner.Sump pumps are a critical element within a home to help keep basements and crawlspaces dry. Because their location in the home is often in areas that are rarely used, sump pump maintenance or proper functioning are easy to overlook.

How does a sump pump work?

  • Sump pumps are often hardwired into the electrical system of a home
  • Water from the home’s weeping tiles or basement waterproofing system is pumped into the sump basin.
  • Once the water reaches a certain level within the sump basin, the water is pumped out either into the city’s municipal system or into a septic tank.

It’s important that your sump pump has a battery back-up in place in case of a power failure. Losing power during or after a heavy rain for even a few hours could cause your sump basin to overflow and cause serious water damage to your home.

Home experts recommend having your sump pump serviced once a year to test and confirm its proper functioning and ensure the battery is still working or replaced.

The life expectancy of a sump pump is 10 to 15 years – so if you’ve lived in your home longer than that and have not replaced your sump pump – now is the time to do so!

Water damage related to sump pump failure can be extremely costly, stressful and time consuming. Be proactive and have your sump pump serviced before it fails.


The photo is courtesy of Advanced Basement Systems (servicing Windsor-Essex). The above photo is a Basement Systems SuperSump with an air tight lid, battery back-up, water watch alarm and perforated liner.

Do You Really ‘Save’ Money?

How to really save money Gibb Insurance Brokers AmherstburgA common goal among Canadians is to save more money. When utilizing coupons, rebates, accumulating store points, saving money on insurance premiums or by eliminating expenses – are you really saving? What do you do with those saved funds? 

If the money saved just gets spent elsewhere, it’s not really ‘saving’ is it? 

Here are some ideas to really help you save money:

Sock it away: Let’s say you’ve just saved $300 a year on your insurance premiums, consider taking that cash and stowing it away for a specific purpose or goal, such as saving for a vacation or a home renovation project.

52 Week Savings Challenge Gibb InsuranceSave it with a TFSA: Whenever you ‘save’ money by using credit card or store points, consider transferring those savings into a registered Tax-Free Savings Account.

Invest it: When you save money from using coupons or getting a rebate, designate that money to be invested in your retirement with an RRSP. Investing $275 a year for 20 years (at a 6% annual rate of return) would result in more than $10,000 saved! Check out this handy calculator.

Join a Challenge: If you have trouble saving money, consider committing to a year long savings challenge, then save it in your preferred method mentioned above.

If you have other inventive money saving tips, please leave a comment below.

However you plan on utilizing your savings, the first step is to start. Please feel free to give us a call for a home or auto insurance quote – 519-736-8228 or fill out this online quote request.

Good luck!

Are You Prepared for a Power Outage?

Are You Prepared for a Power OutageWhat if you didn’t have power for one, two or even three days? With the hot, steamy and sometimes unpredictable heat of the summer upon us, it’s a good time to review your preparedness.

Useful items:

–          A home phone that is not portable that can be used without electricity. Also consider purchasing car chargers for your cell phones.

–          A battery operated or ‘crank’ radio and flashlights. Flashlights and battery operated lanterns are much safer than candles.

–          ‘Ready to eat’ foods and a non-electric can opener.

–          Keep extra bottled water handy.

–          An alternate cooking source such as a camp stove, just remember to never use it indoors.

–          Books and non-electric games will help you and your family stay entertained.

Helpful tips:

–          Unplug ‘surge sensitive’ electronic items – like computers and televisions.

–          Try not to open your refrigerator or freezer to help keep your perishable food from spoiling.

–          Check on your neighbours to be sure they are safe.

–          If you have a generator, remember to never use it indoors, in a garage or in an enclosed porch. Check that it’s well ventilated and running properly.

To be without electricity for an extended period is a worst case scenario, but it’s best to be prepared just in case.

Fraud Prevention Month

Insurance Fraud Types and PreventionsMarch is Fraud Prevention Month in Canada. According to the Canadian Coalition Against Insurance Fraud (CCAIF), general insurance fraud costs Canadian insurers $1.3 billion every year.

What does that mean to you? It’s estimated that 10 – 15% of your home, auto or business insurance premiums are due to fraudulent insurance claims.

Types of insurance fraud:

  • Staged accidents – This is a particular problem in larger cities, where a collision is staged to look like the victim’s fault. Often the damage is exaggerated and the person who stages the accident works in conjunction with fraudulent auto body shops.
  • Exaggerated claims – People who take advantage of a recent break-in and embellish upon the items stolen. We’ve all heard stories of people getting new golf clubs and leather jackets when their car was broken into!
  • Incorrect information – This fraud occurs when people purposely provide insurance companies with false information for the benefit of paying lower insurance premiums. Example: using a country cottage address for auto insurance purposes rather than their actual full-time city address.
  • Medical and rehab clinic fraud – Clinics may offer patients unnecessary treatments or request patients to sign blank forms for accident benefits.
  • The sale of stolen cars – Criminals will manipulate the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to hide the fact that it was stolen, and then sell it cheaply to an unsuspecting consumer.

Don’t be a victim of insurance fraud

  • Always report car accidents to your insurer and the police.
  • Never sign blank forms at a medical or rehabilitation clinic.
  • Always deal with respectable collision and auto body companies.
  • Purchase vehicles from a reputable dealership.
  • Be wary of people posing as insurance brokers, offering incredibly low premiums – with payments requested via an email transfer.
  • If you feel that you are being encouraged to manipulate or exaggerate your insurance claim by your insurance broker, report them immediately to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

The government and insurance companies are stepping up the fight against insurance fraud and you can help. The IBC runs a toll free tip line, 24/7 – 1-877-222-TIPS, or confidentially online here.

In the end, insurance fraud costs us all, do your part to prevent it.

Keep in Contact With Your Insurance Broker

Staying in Contact with your insurance broker can save you moneyYour insurance needs might be changing, or perhaps you’ve had a ticket, or your last claim or accident was several years ago… whatever the case, you need to keep in contact your insurance broker for the best rates and coverage.

Why? 

When an insurance broker searches for the best coverage, they choose the company that provides the customer with the best price and coverage combination based on that person’s current ‘insurance profile’.

So if a person had 2 speeding tickets, or a recent accident, or lived in downtown Toronto… their insurance broker would choose the company that has the most competitive rate for a person with 2 speeding  tickets; a recent accident; or who live in downtown Toronto.

Let’s fast forward to 5 years later and this person is still with the same company that provided the best option 5 years ago…. Although this company that has good rates for a driver with 2 tickets on their record, they might not the best rates for someone with a clear record.  Or the customer that had a recent accident 5 years ago now has a clear driving record and there are insurance companies with more competitive rates.  Or the couple that lived in downtown Toronto has moved to Essex and the carrier that had good rates for Toronto, but lousy rates for Essex.

Keeping in regular contact with your insurance broker helps to ensure that you are getting the best price and the best coverage for your specific insurance needs.

We’re here to help. Please feel free to give us a call for a quote – 519-736-8228