Personal Lines


Personal Lines Information

Automobile Insurance


What is auto insurance?

Auto insurance protects you against financial loss if you have an accident. It is a contract between you and the insurance company. You agree to pay the premium and the insurance company agrees to pay your losses as defined in your policy.

Auto insurance provides property, liability and medical coverage:

  • Property coverage pays for damage to or theft of your car.
  • Liability coverage pays for your legal responsibility to others for bodily injury or property damage.
  • Medical coverage pays for the cost of treating injuries, rehabilitation and sometimes lost wages and funeral expenses.

An auto insurance policy is comprised of six different kinds of coverage. Most states require you to buy some, but not all, of these coverages. If you're financing a car, your lender may also have requirements.

Most auto policies are for six months or a year. Your insurance company should notify you by mail when it's time to renew the policy and to pay your premium.

Why do you need auto insurance?
It's really all about protecting yourself financially.

  • If you're in an accident or your car is stolen, it costs money, often a lot of money, to fix or replace it.
  • If you or any passengers are injured in an accident, medical costs can be extremely expensive.
  • If you or your car is responsible for damage or injury to others, you may be sued for much more than you're worth.
  • Not only is having insurance a prudent financial decision, many states require you to have at least some coverage.

Questions to ask your agent
Your Independent Agent is an advocate for finding auto insurance that meets your specific needs. Here are a few things to consider as you prepare for the discussion:

  • How much can you afford to pay if you get in an accident? (To keep premiums low you may want to have a higher deductible and be willing to pay more for repairs.)
  • What is the insurance company's level of service and ability to pay claims?
  • What discounts are available? (Ask about good driver, multiple policy and student discounts.)
  • What's the procedure for filing and settling a claim? (Ask who to call and what happens after you file a claim.)

Homeowners Insurance


Because everyone's needs are not the same, it is best to consult your agent to help assess your needs and find the insurance policy that is right for you.
What is Homeowners insurance?

Homeowners insurance provides financial protection against disasters. A standard policy insures the home itself and the things you keep in it.

Homeowners insurance is a package policy. This means that it covers both damage to your property and your liability or legal responsibility for any injuries and property damage you or members of your family cause to other people. This includes damage caused by household pets.

Damage caused by most disasters is covered but there are exceptions. The most significant are damage caused by floods, earthquakes and poor maintenance. You must buy two separate policies for flood and earthquake coverage. Maintenance-related problems are the homeowners' responsibility.

Why do you need homeowners insurance?
It is really all about protecting yourself financially if something unexpected happens to your home or possessions. That's important because chances are your home is likely one of your largest investments.

  • If your home was destroyed by fire or damaged by a natural disaster, you'd need money to repair or replace it.
  • If a guest in your home is injured, liability protection and medical coverage help pay expenses.
  • If you are a victim of theft and vandalism, it can reimburse you for your loss or pay for repairs.
  • If you are still paying for your home, your lender will require insurance.

It is important to know that homeowners insurance is meant to cover unexpected damage, not routine maintenance. Ask your agent to talk about what is covered and be sure to read your policy so you know exactly what's included and what is not.

Things to consider and questions to ask your agent
Here are few things to discuss with your agent that will influence your decisions.

  • How much will it cost to rebuild my house and replace my belongings if they are damaged or destroyed? (Ask your agent to talk you through your home's features and the things you own so you can make an informed decision about coverage.)
  • Does the insurance company have a good reputation for customer service? Is it known for paying claims fairly and promptly?
  • What discounts are available? (Ask about multiple policy, security system and fire resistance discounts.)
  • What's the process for filing and settling a claim? (Ask who to call and what happens after you file a claim.)

Life Insurance

There are many kinds of life insurance, but they generally fall into two categories: term insurance and permanent insurance.

Term insurance is designed to meet temporary needs. It provides protection for a specific period of time (the "term") and generally pays a benefit only if you die during the term. This type of insurance often makes sense when you have a need for coverage that will disappear at a specific point in time. For instance, you may decide that you only need coverage until your children graduate from college or a particular debt is paid off, such as your mortgage.

In contrast, permanent insurance provides lifelong protection. As long as you pay the premiums, and no loans, withdrawals or surrenders are taken, the full face amount will be paid. Because it is designed to last a lifetime, permanent life insurance accumulates cash value and is priced for you to keep over a long period of time.

It's impossible to say which type of life insurance is better because the kind of coverage that's right for you depends on your unique circumstances and financial goals.

But remember, the best way to figure out the amount and type of life insurance that makes sense for your particular situation is to meet with a qualified and licensed life insurance professional.

Health Insurance

What kinds of health insurance are there?
There are essentially two kinds of heath insurance: Fee-for-Service and Managed Care. Although these plans differ, they both cover an array of medical, surgical and hospital expenses. Most cover prescription drugs and some also offer dental coverage.

  1. Fee-for-Service
    These plans generally assume that the medical professional will be paid a fee for each service provided to the patient. Patients are seen by a doctor of their choice and the claim is filed by either the medical provider or the patient.
  2. Managed Care
    More than half of all Americans have some kind of managed-care plan1. Various plans work differently and can include: health maintenance organizations (HM0s), preferred provider organizations (PPOs) and point-of-service (POS) plans. These plans provide comprehensive health services to their members and offer financial incentives to patients who use the providers in the plan.

What is 'long-term care'?
Because of old age, mental or physical illness, or injury, some people find themselves in need of help with eating, bathing, dressing, toileting or continence, and/or transferring (e.g., getting out of a chair or out of bed). These six actions are called Activities of Daily Living–sometimes referred to as ADLs. In general, if you can’t do two or more of these activities, or if you have a cognitive impairment, you are said to need “long-term care.”

Long-term care isn’t a very helpful name for this type of situation because, for one thing, it might not last for a long time. Some people who need ADL services might need them only for a few months or less.

Many people think that long-term care is provided exclusively in a nursing home. It can be, but it can also be provided in an adult day care center, an assisted living facility, or at home.

Assistance with ADLs, called “custodial care,” may be provided in the same place as (and therefore is sometimes confused with) “skilled care.” Skilled care means medical, nursing, or rehabilitative services, including help taking medicine, undergoing testing (e.g. blood pressure), or other similar services. This distinction is important because generally Medicare and most private health insurance pays only for skilled care–not custodial care.

What are the types of disability insurance?
There are two types of disability policies: Short-Term Disability (STD) and Long-Term Disability (LTD):

  1. Short-Term Disability policies (STD) have a waiting period of 0 to 14 days with a maximum benefit period of no longer than two years.
  2. Long-Term Disability policies (LTD) have a waiting period of several weeks to several months with a maximum benefit period ranging from a few years to the rest of your life.

Disability policies have two different protection features that are important to understand.

  1. Non-cancelable means the policy cannot be canceled by the insurance company, except for nonpayment of premiums. This gives you the right to renew the policy every year without an increase in the premium or a reduction in benefits.
  2. Guaranteed renewable gives you the right to renew the policy with the same benefits and not have the policy canceled by the company. However, your insurer has the right to increase your premiums as long as it does so for all other policyholders in the same rating class as you.

In addition to the traditional disability policies, there are several options you should consider when purchasing a policy:

  • Additional purchase options
    Your insurance company gives you the right to buy additional insurance at a later time for an additional cost.
  • Coordination of benefits
    The amount of benefits you receive from your insurance company is dependent on other benefits you receive because of your disability. Your policy specifies a target amount you will receive from all the policies combined, so this policy will make up the difference not paid by other policies.
  • Cost of living adjustment (COLA)
    The COLA increases your disability benefits over time based on the increased cost of living measured by the Consumer Price Index. You will pay a higher premium if you select the COLA.
  • Residual or partial disability rider
    This provision allows you to return to work part-time, collect part of your salary and receive a partial disability payment if you are still partially disabled.
  • Return of premium
    This provision requires the insurance company to refund part of your premium if no claims are made for a specific period of time declared in the policy.
  • Waiver of premium provision
    This clause means that you do not have to pay premiums on the policy after you’re disabled for 90 days.

 

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