Life Insurance

The Facts About Life Insurance

You may have thought about buying a life insurance policy so that your loved ones are secure if something happens and you are no longer here. Even with that basic knowledge, you may still be unsure of how life insurance works and what it entails. It can be hard to contemplate your fate, but you are hardly alone. Too many people put off purchasing life insurance and leave their family to bear the burden of debts, funeral costs, and other expenses. Let’s take a closer look at why you need life insurance and how it works.

What is Life Insurance?

Simply put, life insurance is a contract between the insurance company and you, the policyholder. The contract will guarantee that if anything happens to you that your loved ones, the beneficiaries, will receive payment of a benefit at the time of your death. The life insurance policy will give you the peace of mind to know that your loved ones can continue to live the same lifestyle they had been in the same place. Life insurance can even let you leave money to a charity that is important to you.

What are the Different Types of Life Insurance?

All life insurance policies have the same goal, to make sure that beneficiaries receive payment when you pass away. There are, however, various types of life insurance available.

Short-term protection – Term life insurance falls under this heading. A policy can be purchased for a definite amount of time, usually ten to thirty years. If your demise happens in that period, your beneficiary will receive payment of a death benefit. If you outlive the covered period, then the policy ends.

Long-term protection – This is also known as permanent life insurance, which also includes whole life insurance and universal life insurance. Long term protection covers you for the rest of your life. Just like term coverage, long term protection yields a death benefit to your beneficiary at the time of your death. It also offers benefits before your death, such as having a cash value that can be accessed in times of need such as a child’s wedding or college tuition. Some retirees have used long term protection policies as a way to supplement their income.

One type of policy may be enough to cover your needs, or you may want a combination of different coverages. What you choose depends on your particular situation. Discussing your needs with an agent can help you to decide what coverage or coverages are best for you and your loved ones. As time passes your needs may change, periodic reviews of your policies to gauge if adjustments are needed to your policy will ensure your loved one’s needs are met.

What Amount of Life Insurance is Needed?

Everyone’s needs are different, and there is no one size fits all policy. Sometimes the group coverage you receive through your employer is just not enough.  Most life insurance policies obtained through group coverage are not portable, so when you leave the company, most likely you leave the life insurance. You need to examine what will play a role in determining how much life insurance you need. Factors like the size of your family, the value of your home, how much debt you’ve incurred, and your business (if you own one). If you have children, you will want to ensure coverage of basic expenses such as food and clothing, to future costs like college tuition.

The key factor is what you want for your family.  How much help do you want to leave for your family when you can no longer be with them? Do you want to keep them headed towards their life goals? Do you want to make sure your spouse can stay in the home you made together? These are just a few things you may want to take into consideration.

Is Life Insurance Expensive?

Your age and health will determine how much life insurance costs. Younger and healthier people typically pay lower premiums. The cost of not having life insurance, however, cannot be put into a dollar value. The burden left on your loved ones if you did not invest in life insurance will be costly for them.

Getting life insurance is an easy way to have peace of mind knowing that if something happens to you that your family will be able to carry on.

Should you have any questions about Life Insurance, contact us via email here or call us at (863) 646-LOCK.

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Home Business

Protecting Your Small Home Business

You may be like the growing number of people who have left their job to start a home business. When you start a small home business, you need equipment such as a computer, printer or printers, or specialized equipment.  All of those items are probably covered by your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, but there is more cost to consider.  Having your computer damaged or destroyed costs time and most likely will result in lost revenue and data; homeowner’s or renter’s insurance does not cover lost profits or intellectual property.  There is good news if you own a small home business, you can protect it; let’s take a more in-depth look.

Options to Protect Your Small Home Business

In-home Business Policy

An in-home business policy gives more comprehensive coverage for business equipment and liability than a homeowner’s policy. An in-home business policy can give coverage for lost income. In some policies coverage provided covers losses or damage not only from business activities at the insured’s home or rental residence but also off-site at a different place. This added benefit means the business property is covered while a business owner is in transit and gives liability coverage when at business-related activities at a trade show or a customer’s home. These policies, are also known as in-home business endorsements, can differ greatly depending on the insurer.

Increased Business Property Limits on Homeowners Insurance

Another option that small home business owners have available is to increase coverage limits on their homeowner’s insurance.  A homeowner’s policy could cover as much as $1,500 worth of personal property. Things like vitamin samples, tools, and office furniture may be included. The coverage basically protects the business merchandise or equipment you keep at home. It may also offer additional coverage for your business property while in your car or at a customer’s home. If this is not enough coverage, you may have the option to increase coverage with what is known as a homeowner’s policy endorsement.  It would be a wise choice if your small home business meets the following criteria:

  • You will have less than $4,999 worth of business property in your home.
  • You meet with customers exclusively at their homes or a neutral location such as a coffee shop.
  • You don’t have more than $750 worth of personal property intended for use in business away from your home.

A Business Insurance Policy

Some home-based businesses are not eligible for additional business property or in-home business coverage due to the kind of business or its annual Income. In cases such as these, a business insurance policy is the best choice. This fact is especially true if you have clientele visit your home.  If a client is injured while involved in a business-related transaction or activity homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance may not cover the injury. Here are some additional things to consider when deciding if you need a business insurance policy:

  • If you execute business transactions with customers at your home, such as bookkeeping or tutoring, which may require additional specialized liability coverage
  • If you are planning to keep at least $5,000 worth of business property in your home.
  • If you are dependent on income from your small home business in order to support your family.

There are a few other things to consider when deciding on what insurance options to choose for your small home business.  Factors such as being zoned for business, licenses and permits, vehicles used for your business, and taxes all need to be investigated. Your agent can help you to wade through all of the regulations and help you to determine what is the best way to protect your small home business.

Should you have any questions about protecting your small home business, contact us via email here or call us at (863) 646-LOCK.

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Renter's Insurance

Renter’s Insurance is a Smart Choice for Renters and Landlords

As a renter, the apartment or townhouse you live in may not require you to have renter’s insurance, but not having it puts your possessions at unnecessary risk. As a landlord, you can protect your tenants and your bottom line by making it part of a lease agreement. Here’s why if you’re are a renter or landlord you should consider renter’s insurance.

What is Renter’s Insurance?

Renters insurance is a type of insurance that covers your personal property in a rental residence. It repays tenants for lost, stolen, or destroyed belongings. Renter’s insurance also covers vandalism, fire, and natural disasters. Most policies don’t cover flooding or something like water damage from a burst pipe. In the second scenario, the rental property would be responsible for paying for the damage. Renters Insurance is different from a Renter Dwelling Policy which covers the physical structure; renters insurance covers the tenant’s belongings (and liability) inside.

It’s not hard for tenants to purchase renters insurance, and it usually costs about $12 a month for most rental units depending on the scope of what the policy covers.

How Does Renter’s Insurance Work?

For Renter’s

Renter’s insurance is the only way tenants are guaranteed they’ll be compensated for possessions that are lost, stolen, or damaged

If you have a guest to your rental residence, and they are injured on the property. Even if it’s not your fault that the guest was injured, you could be held responsible. Renters insurance will shield you from being liable for the injury and the subsequent medical cost related to it.

Another reason to have renter’s insurance is that it will cover your personal property even if it may be located in the rental property. The policy could include things such as having something stolen from your car or losing a suitcase on vacation.  Depending on coverage, some renter’s insurance policies will cover damage to other’s property such as bumping into a crystal vase and breaking it, or your child knocking over a display of glassware at a department store.

For Landlords

By requiring your tenants to carry renters insurance, you protect yourself or your company from being liable. If someone gets injured in your tenant’s rental residence, you could be sued for medical costs, even if you are not responsible. Renters insurance would pay for someone’s injury in a rental residence and would reduce the chance of a lawsuit from the injured party.

Requiring renter’s insurance means that you can allow tenants to have pets, most renter’s insurance policies cover damage from pets up to a certain size. Obviously, it would not cover someone having a pet like a donkey in their apartment.

Requiring your tenants to have renter’s insurance would also cover relocation costs in the event of a fire or natural disaster. This benefit would keep your company from having to cover the costs of a hotel. It may be that you or your company just want the best for the tenants and want them to be covered even if it’s not your responsibility.

Regardless of if you are a tenant or a landlord owning renters’ insurance can give you peace of mind that your possessions or your rental property are covered.  On both sides of the renter’s insurance policy, the cost of lawsuits can be reduced or coved altogether. It’s clear, when it comes to rental properties having renter’s insurance is the smart choice.

Should you have any questions about Renter’s Insurance or Rental Dwelling Policies, contact us via email here or call us at (863) 646-LOCK.

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What to Know Before You Buy That Fixer Upper

What You Should Know Before You Buy a Fixer Upper

In the Lakeland and Plant City areas, many homes have crossed the century mark. These beautiful old southern homes can be enticing, but restoring them can have hidden costs. Several factors should be considered prior to taking on a fixer upper; do-it-yourself or contracted home renovation.

Is it Right for You?

A lower priced listing on a two-story Victorian home can be tempting. Restoring a fixer upper and increasing its value is an excellent way to increase your net worth. But, do you really know what’s involved? Renovating a home takes time, effort, and capital. The size of a renovation will dictate how long it takes; a fixer-upper can take up to a year to finish. As the home is worked on there will be hammers hammering, saws cutting, voices shouting and footsteps on the roof.

If all of this sounds like too much of a disruption for your family, you should avoid taking on the project. However, if you can take the bang and clatter of renovation, it can be rewarding both personally and financially.

Searching for a Home to Renovate

Where to Buy

The saying “location, location, location” carries just as much weight now as it did a century ago. You want to find a fixer upper to restore in an area where real estate prices are on the upswing, not the opposite. Factors like crime rates, school ratings, and undesirable things like liquor stores or strip clubs all should be considered before making your decision.

Timeworn or Trashed?

The condition of the home you are going to purchase makes a difference in the success of its renovation. Is weathered and only needs a coat of paint and new shingles, was it ravaged by termites, did squatters use it as a drug den before it was put up for sale?

The difference between cosmetic repairs and having to replace 70% of the structure can mean thousands of dollars more. Electric wiring should be factored into the cost if the home is over 50 years old. Fuse boxes and old wiring can’t handle the load that today’s electronics and appliances put on them and will have to be replaced.

Floor Plans

Do you want a 19th or 20th-century floorplan in the 21st century? Do you like the charm of a room that is centered around a fireplace, or do you want wide open areas where a high definition TV is the center of attention? If the latter is the case, support walls in an older home may not be able to be knocked out for expansion.  Air conditioning may not flow well in a house that was never intended to have it. Make sure the layout gives you enough square footage for your family to live comfortably. Lifestyle is a significant point to consider when deciding to live in a home that has been around since the Civil War.

The Cost of Renovation

Before you embark on your journey to restoring an old home, you should create a realistic budget.  Make sure there are allocations for the cost of unforeseen issues, this will save you from going over budget.  Here are a few of the things to consider in your budget:

  • Replacing the roof.
  • Patching and painting walls.
  • Refinishing or replacing old flooring.
  • Repairing foundations.
  • Putting in tile or removing the carpet.
  • Installing new plumbing or sewer lines.
  • Replacing light fixtures and switches.
  • Replacing doors.
  • Fixing or replacing air conditioning.
  • Painting the exterior of the home.
  • Replacement windows.
  • Repairing or replacing the bathroom.

Remember to shop for the best financing on your home; or seek a Federal Housing Administration 203k loan which lets borrowers purchase a property and also finances the cost of renovation. Once you have received financing, don’t gold plate your renovation project. Don’t add a new wing or an addition that will put you over budget and ruing the aesthetics of a home.

Saving a piece of history by renovating a home can be a rewarding experience, just be sure it is an experience you are prepared to have.

Should you have any questions about Homeowners Insurance in regard to older homes, contact us via email here or call us at (863) 646-LOCK.

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Preventing Slip and Fall Incidents at Your Home or Business

We may not get much ice in Central Florida, but many other potential hazards can cause someone to slip and fall at your house or your office. In Central Florida we also have a large elderly population who are all potential fall victims, steps must be taken to keep them from falling. Prevention is the key to eliminating slip and fall hazards and preventing serious injury from occurring due to negligence. Here are a few ways that you can make both your home or business safe from slip hazards:

Tips for Preventing Slip and Fall Accidents

  • If a slippery substance such as oil, grease, or a household cleaner spills at your home or business, it should be cleaned up right away. As you undertake cleanup, be sure that adequate signage is used to alert customers, employees, or family that a slip hazard is in the area. 
  • Regular inspections and cleaning of high traffic areas or work areas where oil and grease are used should be made.
  • Make sure there is sufficient lighting around your home, in parking lots, on sidewalks, walkways, and in stairwells to ensure they are visible. LED lights are best for commercial settings because they light a wider area and act as a deterrent for crime.
  • Bunched carpet, loose tiles, and uneven flooring can all cause someone to trip and should be repaired.
  • Potholes that are not filled present a hazard where someone could twist or break an ankle, or they could fall and break a bone.
  • Water that runs into a parking area can quickly become slippery, and the source of the runoff should be dealt with to prevent any slipping.

Stairs and Ramps

  • Handrails are an effective way to prevent the disabled and elderly from falling.  Installed securely in stairways, ramps, halls, and bathrooms they can help people to have a sense of independence while at the same time eliminating the potential for a fall.
  • Broken or loose steps in a stairwell is a recipe for a lawsuit if someone falls due disrepair.
  • Make sure that stairwells are lit well and have something that will increase friction such as carpet or non-slip treads.

Lawn Areas

  • Make sure lawn areas are kept mowed to 7 inches or less so that hidden items such as a sprinkler or tree roots are visible.
  • Don’t leave old toys, tools, or portable sprinkles on the lawn, so they do not become trip hazards.
  • Make sure to keep lawn areas and the exterior of homes free of stinging insects like wasps so that customers or family members are not stung.

Walkways

  • Clear your walkways of ladders, tools, or anything else that could be a potential trip hazard.
  • Make sure walkways are even and have no large cracks. Repairs should be made if either one of these conditions exists.

What to do if a Slip and Fall Happens on Your Property

  • Seek medical attention for the injured party if needed.
  • Gather critical information such as the name of the injured party, the time of the day the slip or fall incident occurred. The location of the incident. What was going on at the time of the accident (was it the injured party’s fault?) Take pictures of the scene and if possible, of the injuries sustained by the person who fell.
  • If you or the person who experienced the accident need to file a claim, contact your insurance company promptly. Follow the insurance company’s instructions to document the claim correctly.
  • If a severe injury occurs as a result of a slip or trip, contacting an attorney may be in your best interest.

All that is needed to stop slip and fall accidents is to care enough to prevent them. Should you have any questions about Liability Insurance, contact us via email here or call us at (863) 646-LOCK.

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Home Robbery

Simple Ways to Deter Burglars from Breaking into Your Home

Do you live in an area where crime is on the rise? If you live in Lakeland, the answer is yes. According to the FBI, property crimes in 2017 were 48% higher in Lakeland than the rest of Florida and 58% higher than the national average.  You’ve worked hard to purchase your home and furnish it; you need to protect your investments. With that idea in mind, here are some tips on how to protect your home from would-be burglars.

Secure Means Safe

A recent study at the University of North Carolina ‘s criminology department found that burglars avoid homes that have security systems or that they believe have security systems. If the robber sees multiple cameras situated in various angles, they know there is a greater chance the authorities will apprehend them. Having a home security system can give you both peace of mind, and in some cases bring discounts on your homeowner’s insurance. 

If you don’t want to spend the money on a home security system, then signs and decals placed around the home can act as a deterrent, but experienced crooks may not fall for the ruse. Remember, most burglaries take place between two and three in the afternoon when most homes are empty. Be sure that if you decide to install a security system, it not only alerts the police but you as well.

Home Security Technology

Many of the new “doorbell” type security systems have speakers that allow you via your smartphone to warn encroaching burglars that you are aware of the situation and that the police are on the way. Motion activated lighting on the exterior of your home is another simple way to deter burglars. Experienced burglars may spot motion activated lights and know how to get around them, but given the choice of a home with motion activated lights, or a neighbor’s house without them, most of the time criminals will avoid a home with lights.

Make sure that your home has secure locks that cannot be easily picked; this in of itself can act as a deterrent to burglars.  A big loud dog is also an excellent deterrent to burglars; they do not want the hassle of placating your dog and will move on. Make sure that things that could tempt a burglar are not in plain sight. Having expensive tools left out on the driveway will entice crooks to investigate further. If you have an expensive piece of art or collectible, don’t place it where it can easily be seen from the street. Likewise, easily visible TVs, computers, gaming consoles, and computers should be placed in areas that conceal them.

A Safe Means Secure

If you have valuable jewelry or keep large amounts of cash on hand, you should be using a safe to protect them. The type could be a wall safe, drop safe, or a safe bolted to the floor. It is also an excellent place to store financial documents, data storage devices, and family heirlooms.

Fake-Out Burglars

If you are going on vacation a simple way to deter burglars is to make them think your home when you are not there. In the digital age which we find ourselves, it has never been easier to fool criminals. Smart devices in your home can be activated remotely through your home’s Wi-Fi even when you are not there. Smart plugs can let you turn lights, TVs, stereos, appliances and other things on and off while you are away giving your home the appearance that it is occupied.

Be sure not to post vacation or travel photos on social media until you return home; this is especially true if you have a lot of friends or followers on your social media accounts.

Make sure you document all your home’s valuables in the event your home is broken into, and items were stolen. There are many apps that let you create a home inventory right from your smartphone and make the task easier.

Keeping burglars away from your home is simpler than ever. Should you have any questions about homeowners insurance coverage for burglaries, contact us via email here or call us at (863) 646-LOCK.

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Home Inventory List

How to Create a Home Inventory List for Insurance

Living in Central Florida your home is at risk from a number of natural things such as hurricanes, lightning, flooding, sinkholes, and tornados. Natural disasters are not the only thing that put your home at risk, a grease fire in the kitchen has burned many homes to the ground over the years.  Faulty electrical wiring can be the source of a fire, and old natural gas lines have caused entire homes to be leveled by an explosion.

With so many ways your home could be damaged, and your property lost forever, it is crucial that you create a home inventory list.  Having a detailed inventory of your possessions can make things easier when you file a claim, and it can also guide you on what kind of coverage you want.

Creating a Home Inventory List

Creating a home inventory list to submit to insurance is not a difficult thing to undertake, but you can’t cut corners when creating the list and still hope to receive reimbursement for your lost property.  Here are a few steps.

Chose a Starting Point

You should follow Nike’s advice when deciding on which room should be your starting point when composing a list “Just do it.” The room does not matter; what matters is that you start the process of compiling a list of your possessions. The logical choice would be a room with items which are the most valuable; but it really does not matter, what matters is you have started creating your list.

Documenting Property with Apps

In the digital age, we currently live in documenting your possessions has never been easier or had more ways you can capture them.  Apps like Sortly, Memento and Nest Egg can help you create list organize them and record details about each item on the list. These apps use your phone’s camera to add pictures to the list.

Apps are preferable to creating a physical list for two reasons. First, your phone is portable and likely to be on your person when you flee whatever disaster is damaging your home. Second, an app stores your list in the cloud, should you lose your phone in a fire or other emergency, you can log in to the app from another phone and retrieve your list. Be sure to include serial numbers, purchase dates, photos of receipts (if you have them), SKU numbers. With the technology available now there is no reason that your possessions should not be fully documented.

Lock Insurance has its own app that has an inventory list built into it. Our agents have access to the data in the app and they can send the list for you to the insurance company in the event of a claim.

Insurance Agent Demo Agency’s” mobile app

Download the Insurance Agent mobile app below:

Apple App Store

Google Play Store

Make Sure Your Coverage Matches the Value of Your Possessions

Things like art, jewelry, antiques, and collectibles may have increased in their worth and will require individual coverage apart from your standard homeowner’s insurance. You should research these items value and speak with your agent about coverage before they are lost to a disaster.

Don’t Forget the Attic and Garage

When documenting your possessions, it is easy to forget the attic or garage. Your tools, exercise equipment, golf clubs, and other valuable items may all be stored in your garage. Antiques and your children’s old toys may be stored in the attic, so don’t forget to climb up there and document items.

Clothes Count

Remember to document your clothes along with your other possessions.  Record how many of each article of clothing you own such as jeans, shoes, and shirts. If you have a coat or other item of clothing that is valuable, be sure to record details about it.

Document Storage

Items in your rented storage unit may also be covered by home insurance, ask your agent to be sure if your policy covers them.

Keep it Safe

When it comes to financial documents, family photos, and other important documents, be sure to store them in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box. Make sure to include a copy of your list as a backup to your home inventory app.

Creating a home inventory list doesn’t have to be a monotonous chore; it can be quick and easy if you just follow the above suggestions.

Should you have any questions about home inventory list, contact us via email here or call us at (863) 646-LOCK.

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Lower Hurricane Deductible Options

Lock Insurance has been in business quite awhile and have been through several hurricanes, but hurricane Irma really showed who and what was covered.  A lot of insured do not realize how high their deductible was for Hurricanes. We also found that they did not know there was a lower hurricane deductible option.

2%, 5% and 10% Deductible

In Florida the 2%, 5% and 10% deductible is a calendar year deductible, which means that it is a percentage of your structure amount dwelling. For instance, $100,000 thousand dollar house with a 2% deductible would result in the homeowner being responsible for the first $2,000 dollars from a named storm event.

Calendar Year Deductible

What happens if there are multiple named storms in a single calendar year and you have to file more than one hurricane claim?  Once your deductible has been met, you have no further deductible responsibility for that year.

In the past few years some carriers have started offering Hurricane Deductibles as low as $500.00 dollars.

Contact us today and find out more so you will not be caught with High out of pocket cost for minimal difference in price when the next storm is coming in.

I want a quote for $500.00 deductible for hurricanes.   Click Here.

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