Do You Have Enough Insurance Coverage on Your New Ride?

If you were one of the lucky ones who bought a new car at the end of the year, be sure to find out if you have enough insurance coverage on it. Most people are unaware of the type of auto insurance they have, what is covered, and what is’t. As long as they keep getting a card in the mail with their insurance number, everything is squared away ? except when it isn’t.. At Gulf Coast Educators Insurance, we know that not understanding your auto insurance coverage can hurt you in the event of an accident.
Here are a few questions to ask your insurance agent:

Should I have the same coverage levels for all my vehicles?

No. Most families have two or more vehicles that were bought in different years. If you just got a new car, you will want more coverage on it than your third vehicle that just sits in the driveway. While many people put the same level of coverage on each of their cars, this is not necessary and can hurt you in the long run. For example, if you have a truck in the driveway that is only used to go to Home Depot, you can probably get by with minimal coverage. Putting that same level of coverage on the minivan used to take your kids to and from school and soccer practice is unwise.

What would happen if I was hit by someone without insurance?

That depends on the type of coverage you have. At Gulf Coast Educators Insurance, we tend to recommend that you have an uninsured motorist provision on your insurance plan so you are covered no matter what happens. This coverage would make sure your medical bills were paid and that your car was repaired after an accident, without needing to go after someone who clearly could not afford to pay for these damages.

What happens if my new car is totaled?

This is a big one. If you paid sticker price for your new car or truck, got a loan on it, and drove it off the lot, it could be worth less than what you paid. If you bought it with zero down (or a low down payment), this could become problematic later on. When a car is declared totaled by the insurance company, money is paid out based on the current value of the vehicle. If the value is less than what you owe, you would be obligated to pay the difference to the bank. Essentially, you would be without the benefit of your vehicle while still owing money for it. In order to eliminate the risk of this happening, you should get GAP coverage. This ensures that your loan is paid off if the car is totaled.

We know the entire concept of insurance can feel complicated, but it does not have to be when working with an experienced agent.

Our goal is to make sure you have the right level of coverage so you are prepared for anything that comes your way. Give us a call to review your policy today.

What Would You Do in a Flood?

At Gulf Coast Educators Insurance, our goal is to protect you and your family from the many unplanned disasters that can come your way. This includes protecting your home against a flood. We offer flood insurance and recommend that you have your homeowners insurance and flood insurance reviewed on an annual basis. What most people don’t realize is that flood zone designations can change. Things like new construction can change runoff patterns and cause flooding in areas that never received it before. Fortunately, it is easy to check, and we will be happy to do it for you during a consultation over the phone or in person.

Having the right level of flood insurance coverage is the best place to start when creating your emergency plan. Remember that this coverage wonâÂ?Â?t be found in your standard homeowner’s insurance policy, so you will need separate flood insurance. Beyond that, there are certain things you can do to prepare your family for this and any type of natural disaster.

Create an Escape Plan

If your home was threatened by a storm, had physical damage, caught on fire, or started to flood, how would you and your family get out? Businesses have an emergency escape plan for a reason, and you should, too. Knowing what you will do can help make sure that all your kids end up leaving the house the same way as you. This will prevent the need to try and find them in the middle of what could be significant chaos. You should also have a designated meeting spot away from your home in case some of you are home and others are out. It is also wise to have a family emergency contact.

Make a Go Bag

If you live in a flood zone, you need to prepare for the reality of evacuation. Most of the time, there are warnings, but in case you need to get out right away, you should have a “go bag”. This should include several days worth of clothes for each family member, toothbrushes, toothpaste, medication, cash, copies of IDs and important documents, diapers, a couple of toys, cell phone chargers, flashlight, water, and snacks. While only a few basic essentials, it can provide what you need if you have to suddenly stay at a hotel for a night or two.

Catalog Your Belongings

It is important to make a list of the important belongings in your home and provide that list to your insurance agent. For example, your furniture, artwork, jewelry, and electronics should all be listed out. Many of these items can be insured ahead of time, and by cataloging them, it will be easier to have them replaced in the event of a flood. Some people take extra precautions by taking photos of important things or making videos. You can even upload the photos to a private album on Facebook so you can access them in the future from anywhere with an Internet connection.

When discussing flood insurance, we can provide you with even more tips for how to protect you and your family. To review your policy, call and speak with one of our Florida insurance agents.

TitleHow Do You Feel About Retirement?

This may seem like a funny question, but too few people ever actually think about retirement. What do you want it to be like? The standard image seems to be an old couple sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch. This does not have to be you! Instead, you can have adventures, buy the boat you always wanted, travel the world, or spend time in an RV visiting your grand kids. Whatever makes you happy is what retirement should be all about.

At Gulf Coast Educators Insurance, we know that planning for retirement needs to begin with establishing lifestyle goals. It is important to decide how you feel about retirement in general, when you want to actually retire, and what you want to do when you get there. This requires some soul searching, but it is worth it to ensure that you actually enjoy being retired, instead of wishing you were back at work or doing something else.

Once you know what you want retirement to be like and when you want to stop working, we can help you create a financial plan for what it will take to get you there. Retirement costs money, and that money can come from multiple sources. As an educator or someone working for the school district, you likely have a better than average pension. You will also be entitled to some Social Security benefits. This is the good news. However, that is often not enough to retire the way you want to. If you would rather spend Christmas in Switzerland than at home or would like to spend your days fishing in the open ocean, you will need more money than the typical porch-dweller. Fortunately, we can help you get it by helping you plan ahead.
There are several tools that can help you save for retirement. These include annuities and IRAs. When investing in an IRA, one of the things we will help you decide is whether you want to pay taxes on that money today or if you want to pay taxes when you draw the funds. The answer to this really depends on your current financial situation and whether you need tax deductions now. If you can afford to pay taxes on the money today, that can often be a better way to go, simply because you can then grow your investments as much as you want and never have to pay for those gains. Once you reach retirement age, you can draw from your IRA as needed.

Annuities are also beneficial for retirement, and they can provide you with cash flow on a monthly basis. With a fixed annuity, you are guaranteed a set rate of return and can withdraw up to 10 percent of your annuity on an annual basis. Many people prefer this method because there is no risk involved. However, if you would prefer an annuity that is tied to the stock market, we can offer you an indexed annuity.

These are all options we can discuss with you when meeting to plan for your future retirement.