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What Expecting Mothers Can Expect from Their Insurance

Discovering that you’re going to be a parent can be the most exciting news you’ll receive in a lifetime! But underneath all that joy and excitement is another emotion just as strong: fear. There is a ton of responsibility that comes with bringing your child into the world and you want to make sure you are doing it the right way. Even though your baby won’t arrive for another nine months, planning ahead is imperative. A great starting point to be sure that you and your bundle of joy are taken care of is by letting your insurance company know the amazing news. When you do, you should expect the following areas to be covered through your insurance plan.

 

Prenatal Care Visits

For many parents, it feels as though over half of the pregnancy is spent constantly visiting the doctor’s office while the other small part is the actual birth. However, every visit is important and results in news about your baby’s development. Gender revealing ultrasounds, glucose testing, multiple screenings, and hearing your baby’s heartbeat are all included in your visits. As the trimesters continue, you will even see your doctor more frequently to track and make sure your baby remains healthy. Typically visits happen every two weeks, but once the baby reaches a certain size, you will instead start showing up weekly. That’s a lot of visits! Make sure you have an insurance plan that covers all of them.

 

Outpatient/Inpatient Services

Without a doubt, the most important part of your health insurance is to make sure the delivery of your baby is covered. No matter how you give birth–natural, cesarean section, water birth or otherwise–this will be very costly if you are not taken care of financially. And it isn’t just the birth that will rack up the bill; room and board also comes with a price along with your meals, medication, and more. Luckily, with the right coverage plan, you won’t have to worry and can instead focus on bonding with your newborn child.

 

Newborn Screening Coverage

Many have said that time stands still when their child is born, but unfortunately, it cannot remain that way. Once they are welcomed into the world, they immediately have to undergo several tests that weren’t possible when they were in the womb. This is all to make sure that your baby is healthy and ready to go home. Screenings include testing for congenital hypothyroidism, hearing problems, phenylketonuria (PKU), and sickle cell anemia. Although these screenings, as stated before, do help ensure your baby’s health, they are not going to be free. At least not without insurance. If you are unsure about whether or not this is included in your plan, make sure you have a conversation with your agent as soon as possible.

 

Newborn Baby Care

Delivering a baby is by no means a simple task. It can take a serious toll on you both physically and emotionally. As a new parent, you will need a lot of rest to combat the unbelievable amount of exhaustion you will feel. However, having a crying newborn baby in the room may not help in this situation, regardless of how badly you want to see them. Nurses offer to take your child back to the nursery to tend to them throughout the night while you catch up on your much needed sleep. Luckily, newborn care is also covered through health insurance.

 

Lactation Counseling and Breast Pump Rental

For mothers who choose to breastfeed their baby, lactation counseling is available at the hospital to teach new mothers how to perform the task properly. Many see this as a great benefit, especially since it is one of the first of many bonding moments between mother and child. Even after the mother has left the hospital, breast pump rentals are made available to help you further and, as you may have guessed, are covered under your health insurance.

 

As soon as your baby is brought into this world, you want to be sure to inform your insurance agency so that your son or daughter can be added onto your current plan. This way, they will continue to be covered throughout the rest of their life. To get started on the right insurance plan, give us a call at today and let us insure all your major life moments.

Why Life Insurance is Important for Single People

While it is true that life insurance is very beneficial for married couples and those with kids, that does not mean life insurance can’t be for singles too. Regardless of the fact that nobody is dependent on a single person’s income, there are still instances when life insurance is necessary for singles. Take a look at our top reasons that you may not have thought about at first.

It Will Help Cover Your Debts

Take a moment to consider all of your expenses. Are you paying off any loans or debts from college or a mortgage? Despite what some may think, if anything were to happen to you, that debt doesn’t disappear if you have a cosigner. Instead, the debt will go to them, whether it be your parents, your roommate, or your significant other. In some cases, the loaner (usually the bank) asks for the debt to be paid in full after a death. For the cosigner, this can be very difficult to take in, especially after losing a loved one. Nobody should pay off a debt that they may not have the expenses for while grieving. However, when you invest in life insurance, all lingering debts will be paid off rather than have the burden be handed to your grieving loved one.

 

It Helps Pay for Funeral Expenses

Although nobody wants to think about what happens when you die, your funeral service has to be paid for by somebody. Regardless of how big the funeral ceremony is, it will still be costly and not something your loved ones should have to worry about. In some places, small ceremonies are a large expense costing more than $7,000. Thankfully, your life insurance policy will cover the cost so your parents, partner, or family members can grieve in peace.

 

It Helps if Your Health Changes

There are two major factors that determine how much your life insurance will be: your health and age. You may be young and healthy now, but if your family has a history of serious health problems, you should look into purchasing life insurance before it becomes too expensive. If you wait too long, you may not be insurable at all which is why it is good to talk to an agent today rather than later.

 

Having It Now Will Help Down the Road

Although sometimes we don’t want to think about the future, for life insurance purposes, it would be wise. If you know that down the road you may have kids or you will take care of family members, save yourself the hassle by purchasing life insurance today. That way you know you will have the right support before it gets too expensive.

 

You May Not Be Single Forever

As we all know, not everything in life stays the same. Although you may decide that you are going to stay single, not everything goes to plan. There may be a point in your life when someone will depend on your income whether you want it to happen or not. That is why having life insurance now can only help you for any stage in life.

 

When you are looking into insurance policies, having the right insurance agent on your side can make all the difference. Let our expert team help you determine your best policy by giving us a call today. We can help you find the right coverage for any stage in life.

Home Insurance Tips for First Time Homebuyers

Home Insurance Tips for First Time Homebuyers

Are you buying a home for the very first time? This process will have you running the full spectrum of emotions: fear, exhilaration, confusion, extreme highs, coupled with some low points. These emotions definitely make sense since you are about to undertake what is, most likely, the single biggest purchase of your life.

(Actual photo of Matt and I the week that we purchased our first home.)

We work with many first-time homebuyers at Langlois Insurance Agency, and we have found that there are many things first-time buyers wish they knew before they made the jump into home ownership.  Below are some tips and tricks on how to navigate homeowners insurance for your first home.

1) How can I save money on this insurance policy?

One of the biggest questions that I get asked is, “How can I save some money on this insurance policy?”. One of the best ways is to bundle your policies. Bundling will help lower your rates by granting you savings when you purchase multiple insurance policies. For example, if you bundled your automobile insurance with your home insurance, this should save you money on both insurance premiums.

Another tip that I give to our first-time homebuyers is to not wait to purchase your home insurance until the last minute. We get it – the fun part of first-time home buying is with your realtor. The search for the perfect, dream house — that is the exciting part. But, there is a lot more to home insurance coverage than just signing up for a policy. Give yourself time to get a few quotes from trusted insurance professionals so that you can make the best decision and aren’t “surprised” with unexpected costs or issues at a future date.

2) Why isn’t my insurance premium the same as the previous owner’s insurance premium?

Another question that I often get asked is, “Why isn’t my insurance premium the same as the previous owner’s insurance premium?”. When a first-time home buyer is purchasing their new home, they often ask the current homeowner how much they pay for electricity, property taxes, etc…when deciding on buying the home. But, how much the current homeowner pays in insurance is not a good indicator of how much you will pay. This is because insurance policies take into account very personal information in order to establish a cost. For example, a person’s age, credit rating, etc…are all taken into account for your insurance rate. So, your price might be lower – or higher – for the same dwelling for homeowner’s insurance. Your best course of action is to meet with your trusted insurance agent and get a price on your insurance before you close the deal.

3) Review, and improve, your credit score

Let’s talk credit score. Credit Score. I can’t emphasize the importance of this enough to all my first-time homebuyers. Not only will a good credit score help you get a better interest rate on your mortgage, it should also help you save on homeowner’s insurance. In many states, including the state of Illinois, insurance companies use your credit rating when calculating your premium to help determine your level of risk as a policy holder.

So, if you have less than optimal credit, you should take the time to reduce your spending, get rid of debt, reduce as much debt as you possibly can, and pay your bills on time. If you take these steps, you can improve your credit score.
Also, we recommend running your credit rating at least once to twice a year to ensure that there aren’t any mistakes/errors on your credit report.

4) Why shouldn’t I just get the cheapest coverage?

Langlois Insurance Agency is an independent agent and we office a choice of multiple insurance carriers, coverages, and prices. Because of this, we might recommend that you purchase homeowners insurance that is a bit higher than the bare-bones-cheapest coverage. The reason is because our main focus is to find the insurance coverage that best suits your overall needs. And, this might not be the “cheapest” coverage. In addition to protecting your dwelling, personal belongings, and liability, there may be other optional coverages that we recommend, to fully protect your investment. Again, this is why it is important to find an insurance agent that you can trust; an insurance agent that will be there for you in case you have a claim and need to have your investment properly protected.

So, as you venture forward with your first home purchase, take a deep breath, have fun, and don’t forget to contact us with any questions you might have. We have many more tips that we can discuss with you in order for your dream home to be properly protected.

In the meantime, if you have a few minutes, you can watch the following video with your local real estate, mortgage, and insurance professionals. This video gives you some additional tips and tricks on how to better your first home buying experience.

And, as always, don’t hesitate to give Langlois Insurance Agency a call with any questions or comments. We always love to hear from our customers!

Sincerely,
Erin Haughton-Langlois
erin@langloisinsurance.com

Market Value vs Replacement Cost: Which Amount Should I Insure?

Before purchasing a home, you are required to purchase homeowner’s insurance as well. But how do you know how much to insure your home for? Most would think that they need to cover only the price they pay for the house. However, that price isn’t enough coverage to pay for your home in the event of a disaster such as a fire or storm. In most cases, your home’s real value is greater than its market value. That is because market value deals only with the buying and selling process, not rebuilding. And rebuilding costs are much more than the costs to build a home from scratch due to costs of demolishing/cleaning up the existing home, not being able to buy in bulk for supplies, and labor for a single rebuild versus multiple.

So which amount of coverage do you go with? Depends on the risks you want to take. Below we will go over the differences between a home’s market value and replacement cost, followed by the best option we recommend for the average homeowner’s insurance policy.

What is Market Value?

Market value is the price a home can sell for in its current condition. Knowing this price is beneficial when buying or selling a home, but not necessarily for rebuilding. As we said already, there are a number of factors that cause rebuilding the same home to be much more expensive than the home’s market value. Market value is affected by factors such as the location of the home, crime rates in the area, amount of land, proximity to schools, and the availability of similar homes. The most important detail to note about market value is that the price is rarely high enough to cover the cost of rebuilding it since materials and labor costs could be more than when the house was built and one-time jobs are typically more expensive.

Benefits and Risks to Insuring Your Home at Market Value

Benefits: Occasionally, a home may be worth more on the market than it would take to rebuild such as if the home were historical or consisted of elaborate artisanal work that would be worth a lot of money. If you have a home such as this, you can choose to purchase a historic home policy, but these are often more expensive. To save money, you could insure your home based on the market value in order to recover after a loss.

Risks: If your home’s value isn’t placed in the history or craftsmanship, insuring your home at market value puts you at risk for not being fully covered in the event of damage to the house. You would be required to pay the difference between your home’s rebuilding cost and market value in order to rebuild. The only other alternative would be to build a less expensive home elsewhere.

What is Replacement Cost?

Replacement cost is the amount of money it would take to rebuild your home after being destroyed. Coverage at this price will insure your home for the cost to repair any damage or even rebuild your home at the current prices. A building contractor can help you estimate the replacement cost of your home based on the property’s structure and associated items as well as costs such as plans and permits for rebuilding, labor, materials, fees, and taxes. Keep in mind that the land value is included in the market value only, not the replacement cost as the land will not have to be rebuilt.

Benefits and Risks to Insuring Your Home at Replacement Cost

Benefits: You will be able to experience minimal financial interruption should your home be destroyed. If you go with this option, it is best to insure your home for 100% of its estimated replacement cost.

Risks: The cost to rebuild your home can vary over time. There is no guarantee that you will be 100% able to rebuild your home at the estimated replacement cost. To increase your chances of keeping your home fully covered against destruction, we recommend reviewing your policy annually to make sure your amount of coverage is still appropriate for you. Factors that can affect your replacement cost include home upgrades and improvements, market conditions, labor and material costs, and transportation prices. For the maximum amount of protection, you can consider a policy that includes an inflation clause to automatically adjust and account for changes in construction costs.

Insuring Your Home

Unless you believe otherwise based on the benefits and risks listed above, insuring your home for its replacement cost is typically the best and safest option. While, yes, insuring your home for its market value is cheaper now, you will be more adequately covered down the road should anything happen to your home.

Ultimately, when you make your decision, research all your options and please talk to any of us at Langlois Insurance Agency about your situation.

As always, please don’t hesitate to give me a call with any questions or comments — I always love to hear from my customers!

Warmest Regards,

Matt Langlois

matt@langloisinsurance.com

How Safe Is My Fireplace?

During the long winter months, there is nothing that my kids like more than cuddling up next to a roaring fire and reading books to each other. It’s one of our favorite family traditions. Warm Fire. A good book. Lots of love. This tradition always leads me down the path of thinking about fireplace safety. After all, I’m an insurance agent – this is just the way my brain works.

In the past few months, I have had multiple customers tell me of issues they have had with their fireplace, which could have led to a disastrous fire in their home. And, there is nothing that puts more fear in this insurance agent than the word F.I.R.E.

Therefore, before you turn on your fireplace next, ask yourself, “Is my fireplace safe?”

After all, your fireplace has been dormant during the summer months leading up to winter. And, birds, squirrels and debris have been in and out of the chimney at various points. In addition, the weather went from freezing to blazing hot, back to freezing. This all puts a strain on your chimney and the bricks surrounding it. Therefore, it is almost impossible to know how safe your fireplace is without performing some basic checks and balances.

Have you inspected your chimney?

First, you must safely get on your roof and inspect your chimney cap to ensure that it is free from debris and other possible obstructions. (I emphasize the word safely. If you, for example, have a very steep roof or have health issues that would not safely allow you to be on your roof, please call a professional for help.)
While you are up on the roof, remove the chimney cap and inspect the inside of the chimney with a flashlight. What you are looking for is something called “creosote”, which is a byproduct of burning wood that can catch on fire.

It is also a good idea to inspect the chimney for cracks or other structural problems that may have occurred, which could also lead to chimney fires.

In addition, if there are any tree limbs hanging over and/or near the chimney, make certain that these are removed before you used your fireplace.

Have you inspected your flue damper?

Flue dampers are the devices that trap the heat inside the house when you are not using your fireplace. They also allow the smoke to leave the house when a fire is burning in your fireplace. Your flue damper will open completely if it is working correctly. Now this is the important part – if the damper doesn’t open completely, fix it before you light a fire.

Good tip on this – from the ground level, you should be able to look up through the flue and see daylight when the damper is open.

Have you inspected the firebox?

The firebox is the area where you normally place your logs and then start the fire. You will inspect this to make certain there is no creosote buildup. And, you will want to look for broken bricks and/or mortar that needs to be repaired.

Good tip – before you inspect the firebox, clean this area first, and remove all the soot.

Another good tip – When your firebox is cleared, place the grate near the back of it to ensure as much smoke as possible goes up into the chimney and not into your home!

Is your fireplace area cleared of “stuff”?

During the holidays, my wife likes to decorate every square inch of our fireplace with Christmas decorations. Not a good idea. It is important to leave at least five feet of clearance around your fireplace.

Good tip – If you have a Christmas tree, place it as far as possible from your fireplace since those needles are highly flammable!

Have you checked your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors?

One of the most important things you can do for your home (after buying proper home owners insurance coverage, of course) is to make certain that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are properly functioning.
Good tip – replace the batteries to all of these devices when you change your clocks at daylight savings.

Do you burn anything other than firewood in your fireplace?

If so, stop! Never burn anything except for firewood in your fireplace since other materials may contain toxic chemicals. These chemicals may lead to health problems down the road, and they could also be very flammable and cause an explosion.

What to do if you do have a house fire.

If you are ever unfortunate enough to experience an incident from a fire, please call Langlois Insurance Agency immediately at #815-485-6676. We can provide a recommendation for a reputable restoration company to ensure your home is back to its former self as quickly as possible.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact any of us at Langlois Insurance Agency with any questions or comments.

Sincerely,
Matt Langlois

Retirement Plans: What You Are Truly Saving For

At first, it may seem like all that money you put into retirement savings over the years is pointless. However, in actuality, you will be thanking yourself for setting aside so much money once the time comes. Take a look at what you can look forward to after saving for retirement for so long.

Savings For: Travel & Vacation

Now that you have so many hours in the day to fill up, why not spend it going to places you’ve always wanted to see? Instead of daydreaming about paradise, you can actually go visit it with all the money you have saved up in your retirement plans! Retirement is the perfect time to see the world and all it has to offer. You may be surprised what you find out there. And with the right amount in your 401(k) or IRA plans, you can even make a vacation out of your adventure. You don’t have to worry about taking a personal day when you can have as many as you want to do whatever you want!

Savings For: A New Hobby

Have you ever wanted to take cooking classes? Or maybe even dancing classes? You may not have had time for hobbies in the past, or money, but now you do! Enjoy the things in life you couldn’t before by putting your savings to use the way you want. There is no better time to do this than during retirement.

Savings For: Your Loved Ones

When saving for retirement, you are not just trying to put aside money to spend on things you couldn’t afford before. You are also ensuring time with your loved ones. By saving enough money to enter retirement through various plans, you can spend your free time with your loved ones and bond like never before instead of focusing on work. You have worked so hard to ensure they have a good and happy life. Now you can be a part of it too.

Savings For: Volunteer Services

Volunteering is a great way to help those in need, but it can be difficult when you have to take care of yourself first. However, with your savings on your side, you don’t have to worry. Instead, you can spend your time volunteering without worrying about the fact that you do not make money profit because you know you are safe and secure with your retirement plans. Instead of constantly working to make ends meet, you can work the way you want by helping others.

Savings For: A Better Future

Many people look forward to retirement because it provides a time that is dedicated to the things you want. You can finally live happily after all the work you’ve put in. Without saving or investing in an insurance plan, your retirement may not be a fun time filled with all the opportunities listed above. Enjoy retirement by having our agency go over with you the best options for your retirement plan so your future is filled with joy. 

How to Lower Your Premiums on Home Insurance

As long as you own a home, homeowners insurance doesn’t go away. What’s worse is that insurance premiums have the tendency to increase over the years. Whether you are shopping for homeowners insurance for your first home or looking to decrease your premiums for your current home, here are a few tips to help you make your insurance more affordable.

Improve Your Home Security

By decreasing vulnerabilities in your home, you can potentially cut your insurance premiums by as much as 15-25 percent. Methods of improving your home security can include adding a smoke detector, burglar alarm, dead-bolt locks, sprinkler system, and professionally installed storm shutters and doors. With these added safety measures in place, your house is less likely to receive damage from unforeseen instances such as storms, floods, fire, or burglary. If you do make these safety upgrades to your home, keep a record of your receipts in case your provider wants proof before lowering your premium.

Know Your Location

If you haven’t bought your home yet, check the CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) report of the home you are interested in. These reports will be able to tell you the property’s insurance claim history so you can be familiar with any problems the house has had.

Increase Your Deductible

A deductible is the amount of risk you agree to accept before the insurance company starts paying on a claim. The higher your deductible, the more money you can save on your insurance premiums. You could save up to 25% on your premiums simply by doubling your deductible.

Bundle Your Home and Auto Policies

If you already have auto insurance, consider either purchasing your home insurance with the same provider or moving your auto insurance to your new home insurance provider. More often than not, you can save a lot of money on your premiums by bundling the two with the same provider. In fact, bundling can save you anywhere from 5 to 15 percent on your monthly payment.

Determine if Loyalty Matters

Insurance providers typically reward their loyal customers by offering policy discounts. Some insurers will reduce your premiums by 5 percent if you stay with them for three to five years and by 10 percent if you remain a policyholder for six years or more. However, while loyalty has its benefits, some providers offer cheaper discounts to new clients who switch over to their agency.
Make sure you do not ignore such opportunities by occasionally checking your price with other policies that could potentially be cheaper from the beginning.

Don’t Buy What You Don’t Need

This might sound obvious, but don’t have insurance for things you don’t need to cover. For example, if you aren’t in a flood zone, flood insurance may not be the best option for you. Or, if you don’t have any expensive jewelry, you shouldn’t need a jewelry policy. So unless you have a good reason for having a type of insurance, you probably shouldn’t have it. With that being said, it would also be a good idea to reevaluate your coverage each year to make sure your policies are relevant to your current lifestyle. Having one that is unneeded will only make you spend unnecessary money that could be used elsewhere.

Shop Around

Odds are that you aren’t going to pick the cheapest insurance provider with your first choice. In order to make sure you don’t pay more than necessary, shop around either before purchasing home insurance or before renewing your current policy. Ask your friends who they are covered through and check consumer guides to be sure you get the lowest rates that fit your current situation.

To be sure you get the lowest premiums on your homeowners insurance, contact our agency today. We’ll do the shopping for you to get you the best coverage at the best price, whether it’s your first time or you need a readjustment upon renewal time.

How Will Adding a Teenage Driver Impact My Car Insurance?

So, your teen is ready to get their license. It’s an exciting time for them! And maybe for you too, although you may have a number of concerns when it comes to adding a less experienced driver to your insurance plan. There’s the matter of their safety, whether or not they will break certain rules and restrictions on the road, as well as how they will affect your car insurance rates.

Keeping a teenage driver covered under an insurance plan can be extremely expensive, but going without insurance is not an option. While adding a teen driver may be pricey and stressful, there are many ways to lessen the cost. Below are just a few ways you can keep costs down while sending your new driver out on the road.

Mentor by Practicing Good Driving Habits Yourself

If you’re not practicing good driving habits yourself, how can you be your teen’s best mentor? To avoid additional costs, you’ll want to do everything in your power to help them avoid an accident. Have your teen strictly follow safety practices when driving such as putting their phone away, limiting distractions, and buckling up. Make sure they know and follow basic rules of the road every time they drive with you, and hold yourself accountable as well.

Increase Your Liability Coverage

You’ll probably want to increase your liability coverage before your teen even gets behind the wheel. The car they will be driving is in your name, so that means YOU are liable for whatever happens when they’re on the road. Because they are just learning to drive, you’ll definitely want to make sure you have the right coverage plan in case you are held accountable for something you did not do. While you probably do not wish to add an additional amount to your bills, liability will literally save you should a bad accident and subsequent lawsuits occur.

Have Them Drive an Older or Used Car

Because teenage drivers are at a greater risk of getting in an accident, it would be wise to have them drive an older or used car. The car shouldn’t be so old that it’s not up-to-date regarding safety, but having them drive in a well-running vehicle that’s a bit older could save you a great deal of money in the future. These cars are much less expensive to repair should damage occur to them.

Enroll in a Driver Tracking Program

Today, a number of insurance companies provide small devices that monitor driving habits and patterns. These trackers can tell how fast you’re going, the distance at which you break, and other important factors that can give your teen insight as to how they are regularly driving. With this type of information feedback, teens should be able to recognize where their driving could use improvement. Once your teen begins implementing better driving habits, you may see your monthly rates gradually decrease.

Ask About a Distant Driver Discount

When the time comes for your teen to head off to college, they may not take a vehicle with them. Less than half of teenage drivers head off to college with a car in tow. If your child falls into this category, you may be able to get a discount during the time they are away and not driving. In many instances, they don’t have to be very far from home to qualify for a distant driver discount. Check with your insurance provider to see if your teenage driver qualifies you for this type of discount today.

As soon as your teenager begins to think about driving, you’ll want to inform your insurance agency so that your son or daughter can be added to your current plan. This way, they will be covered throughout the experience of learning this important life skill. Make sure they are under the right car insurance plan by having them covered with Langlois Insurance Agency. To get started, give us a call and let us insure you for all of your major life moments.