Bensman Risk Management, Inc.


Insurable Interests

Bensman Risk Management, Inc.
2333 Waukegan Road Suite 275
Bannockburn, IL 60015
847-572-0800 Phone
847-572-0502 Fax

Insurable Interests may offer general financial, insurance, tax and business ideas. However, due to the ever-changing tax laws as well as the complexity of the financial industry, you should seek professional advice before implementing any of the ideas contained in this newsletter. The Bensman Group, Bensman Associates Ltd., Bensman Risk Management, Inc. or Schemata, L.L.C. assumes no liability whatsoever in connection with the use of this newsletter.

Insurable Interests was created by The Bensman Group and Osmosis Digital Marketing. Neither The Bensman Group nor Kestra IS nor Kestra AS are affiliated with Osmosis Digital Marketing.

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Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisory Services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS). Kestra IS and Kestra AS are not affiliated with The Bensman Group, Bensman Associates Ltd., Bensman Risk Management, Inc. or Schemata, L.L.C.

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Insurable Interests

Archive

Monthly Reminder



VOL. 12, ISSUE 11   •   JULY, 2017
If You Have a Golf Cart, Give Us a Call
Golf carts can make it easier to get around on the course and on the byways of some communities, but they also sometimes can pose an insurance problem. Some insurance carriers provide coverage under a homeowner's policy for golf carts both on the course and within a gated community, but other carriers do not. If you have a golf cart, please give us a call so we can check with your carrier and see if you need to make any changes. When you call, you should have available the year, make, model, serial number and value of your cart.

At The Bensman Group, we are happy to help you with any of your insurance and wealth management needs. Contact us at 847-572-0828 or ksavage@bensman.com.
READ MORE...


VOL. 12, ISSUE 10   •   JUNE, 2017
Beware of Drive-By Roofers
Winds and hail that can accompany spring storms often are followed by roofers who drive through affected neighborhoods offering to fix or replace roofs and get the homeowner's insurance company to pay. Before you sign on the dotted line, though, do these things:
  • Make sure the company is reputable. In general, it is best to deal with a local company, because it is easier to check references. Also, if a problem arises later, the company and its workers should still be around.

  • Never let them contact your insurance company on your behalf. As the policyholder, any contact with the insurer should come from you, or from your Personal Lines manager at The Bensman Group.

  • Don't take any action until you have talked with us and we have talked with your insurer. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, it might not be the right course of action to open a claim. But once you file a claim, your insurer is obligated to take action. Before we contact the insurer on your behalf, we investigate to determine if filing a claim will have an adverse impact on your coverage.

    If you have questions about your homeowner's or any other insurance needs, contact us at 847-572-0828 or ksavage@bensman.com. READ MORE...


  • VOL. 12, ISSUE 9   •   MAY, 2017
    Bensman Employees Help Bring Books to Kids
    A group of Bensman employees recently spent a day volunteering at Bernie's Book Bank in Lake Bluff, Ill. We sorted book donations that then were packaged for distribution by another group of volunteers. Bernie's Book Bank is one of the charities that we support as part of our Community Outreach program.

    Bernie's Book Bank collects, processes and delivers new and used books to at-risk children in the Chicago area. The organization has provided kids -- from infants to school-age children -- with more than 4 million books since its founding in 2009. For more information about Bernie's Book Bank, see www.berniesbookbank.org.

    At The Bensman Group, we believe strongly in giving back to the community. We think that kind of connectedness enhances our ability to serve our clients with their insurance and wealth management needs. You can contact us at 847-572-0828 or ksavage@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 12, ISSUE 8   •   APRIL, 2017
    Bensman Offers Claims Emergency Hotline
    No matter when you suffer a loss that will result in an insurance claim, The Bensman Group is ready to help. We have a 24-hour claims emergency hotline that puts you in touch with a Bensman professional any time, day or night.

    This hotline is designed for letting us know about potential new claims, so that we can get the process started as soon as possible. If you want to check up on the progress of an existing claim or request replacement auto insurance cards or the like, please wait to call until regular business hours. But if you need to let us know about a new claim emergency, please call the hotline at 847-772-9897.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 12, ISSUE 7   •   MARCH, 2017
    Call Before You Take Your Convertible Out of Storage
    Spring is in the air. The days are getting longer and the temperatures are rising, which means that if you had your convertible or sports car in storage for the winter, you probably are ready to take it out and hit the road. Before you do, though, give us a call so we can adjust your insurance coverage.

    We at The Bensman Group are happy to help you with all of your insurance and wealth management needs. You can contact us at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 12, ISSUE 6   •   FEBRUARY, 2017
    Call Before You Take Expensive Jewelry Home
    The month of Valentine's Day is a popular month for giving jewelry. And that makes it a good time to remind you that if you are planning to present your sweetheart with a gift of expensive jewelry -- on Valentine's Day or any other day -- you need to be sure it is included on your insurance before you leave the store. Otherwise, if you lose it or if it is stolen, you may have no coverage.

    You might want to give us a heads-up if you are considering such a gift, so that we can check your policy limits and other particulars to prepare to add the jewelry to your coverage. But even if you don't call ahead, be sure to let us know about your purchase immediately, so that we can make sure your gift is covered.

    At Bensman, we are happy to talk with you about any of your insurance needs. Just give us a call at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 12, ISSUE 5   •   JANUARY, 2017
    Take Time to Check Your Insurance
    Now that the hustle bustle of the holidays is behind you, take a few moments to make sure your insurance is up to date. There are two things in particular you should check:

    Check the beneficiaries on your life insurance policies and retirement plans. Do they reflect any recent changes in your life, such as marriage, divorce or the birth of a child or grandchild? You want to be sure that in the event of your death, the people you love are protected in the way you intended.

    Is your insurance coverage up to date? Does it reflect the actual value of what you are protecting, and the risks that you face? For example, if you added on to your house or put in a pool, does your homeowners insurance reflect those changes?

    We will be happy to talk to you about your insurance or wealth management needs. You can contact us at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 12, ISSUE 4   •   DECEMBER, 2016
    Happy New Year to All!
    During this time of celebration, we would like to wish you the joy and peace of this most special of seasons, and to offer best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

    We are pleased and honored to help you as you make decisions to preserve and protect those people and things most important to you, and to save and invest for the future. We appreciate the trust you put in us, and we work every day to earn and keep that trust.

    So enjoy the holidays, and step into the future filled with the love and peace of the season! Happy Holidays to all of you from all of us at The Bensman Group!
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 12, ISSUE 3   •   NOVEMBER, 2016
    Take the Time to Serve This Season
    With the approach of the holidays, there is no shortage of things to think about. But it also can be helpful to take a few moments to think about ways to help others. On the afternoon of Nov. 4, a majority of the Bensman staff volunteered at the Northern Illinois Food Bank distribution center in Park City, Ill., to help sort meat headed to food pantries across northern Illinois.

    This is the eighth year that Bensman employees have volunteered at the food bank during the holiday season. This year, they sorted donated meat, processing 9,400 pounds -- or about 7,800 meals worth. Working with a network of food pantries and donor partners, the Northern Illinois Food Bank provides food for more than 71,000 people in a 13-county area each week.

    Whether you choose to volunteer in an organized fashion or simply decide to reach out to the people around you with a message of caring -- or both -- we at The Bensman Group would like to wish you and all of yours a happy and healthy holiday season!
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 12, ISSUE 2   •   OCTOBER, 2016
    Time to Schedule a Furnace Check
    Even if there is still a trace of Indian summer in the air, we all know that winter is just around the corner. Before the cold winds start to blow, make sure to schedule regular maintenance for your furnace and fireplace.

    Contact an HVAC professional to clean and inspect your furnace to ensure that you and your family will be warm and safe. Similarly, have a fireplace professional check your fireplace and repair and clean as necessary. Then you can be confident that you are ready for winter.

    At The Bensman Group, we also can help you be ready to meet your insurance and wealth management needs. Just contact us at 847-572-0820 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 12, ISSUE 1   •   SEPTEMBER, 2016
    Call When You Put Your Convertible in Storage
    The days are getting shorter, and there is an unmistakable chill in the night air. That means it could be time to put your convertible or sports car in storage for the winter.

    If you store your summer ride, give us a call when you put it away. That way we can let your auto insurer know, and you probably will get a premium break on your policy. Just make sure to call us again when you take it out in the spring.

    If you have a question about any insurance or wealth management need, feel free to contact us at 847-572-0820 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 11, ISSUE 12   •   AUGUST, 2016
    Thinking About a Summer House?
    The end of summer can be a popular time to consider buying a summer place or a boat or a similar investment in hot-weather fun. Maybe you had so much fun that you decided this is the summer to take the plunge and get the advantage of end-of-the-season prices, which might be more reasonable.

    If you are thinking about such a purchase, give us a call so that we can help you arrange appropriate insurance coverage. Finding the best coverage for a second home or a boat can be more challenging than finding coverage for a primary residence or a car, so let us know as far ahead of time as possible.

    And if you have questions about any other insurance or wealth management need, just contact us at 847-572-0820 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 11, ISSUE 11   •   JULY, 2016
    Check Out Our LinkedIn Page
    Although The Bensman Group has had a company page on the business-oriented social media site LinkedIn for several years, we recently began posting content for our clients. You can find everything from articles about insurance to tips for travel, business, finance and more.

    To check it out, just click on the LinkedIn icon on the left side of the newsletter. And feel free to check back regularly to see what new information we have added.

    Of course, we are always happy to talk to you about any of your insurance and wealth management needs. You can contact us at 847-572-0820 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 11, ISSUE 10   •   JUNE, 2016
    Insurance for Your College Student, Graduate
    If you had a high school or college graduation this spring, congratulations to you and your graduate. Before the summer gets much further along, though, give us a call to discuss your graduate's insurance needs.

    For students who are still in college, most likely they will be able to piggyback on your auto and homeowners insurance for coverage for their car and belongings. This generally is true even if they live on campus during the summer or if the car they drive is registered in their name.

    For college graduates, though, it can be a little more confusing. Graduates who are fully self-supporting usually are responsible for their own insurance coverages. But graduates who are less than fully self-supporting -- who are going on to graduate school or who are still looking for a job, for example -- may still be covered under your insurance. If you pay a significant amount of the expenses of your student, you probably would be considered liable if, for example, your student caused an accident.

    The best approach is to call us to discuss your specific situation. You can contact us about this or any other insurance matter at 847-572-0820 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 11, ISSUE 9   •   MAY, 2016
    Beware Door-to-Door Roofers
    Spring storms often are followed by roofers going door to door offering to replace your roof and get your insurance company to pay. It is true that a storm can damage your roof, of course. But if you suspect damage, take these three steps.
  • Deal with a reputable local company. Many door-to-door solicitors are from out of state, which makes it difficult to check references. Also, if a problem with workmanship develops after they have left the area, you probably are on your own.

  • Don't give them information about your insurance company. You are the policyholder, and any communication with the insurer should come from you.

  • Don't agree to anything until you have had contacted our office. Once a claim is filed with the insurance company, they are obligated to open the claim and assign an adjuster. If you contact our office, we can review the information to make sure it won't have an adverse effect on your coverage.

    If you have questions about your home or any other insurance need, contact us at 847-572-0820 or dmiller@bensman.com READ MORE...


  • VOL. 11, ISSUE 8   •   APRIL, 2016
    Call Before You Take the Ragtop on the Road
    Spring is in the air, and you might be longing to ride around in your convertible with the wind in your hair. But before you take your convertible or sportscar out of storage, give us a call. We will make sure that the coverage that you suspended during the winter is back in place so that you are fully protected when you hit the road.

    At The Bensman Group, we are ready to help you with this or any other insurance or wealth management need. Just contact us at 847-572-0820 or dmiller@bensman.com. And happy motoring!
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 11, ISSUE 7   •   MARCH, 2016
    You Need Florida Insurance to Register Car in Florida
    Perhaps you, like many people, have decided to trade in cold northern winters for sunny Florida. And perhaps you want to change a car registration to Florida or buy a car to leave at your Florida home. There is something you should know before you head out to get your new plates.

    The state of Florida requires that you have proof of Florida auto coverage in order to get a Florida registration and license plates. In other words, you need a Florida insurance card, even if you have coverage in another state. So before you stand in line for hours at the DMV only to be turned away, call us so that we can arrange for a Florida auto policy and send you the appropriate insurance cards.

    At The Bensman Group, we want to help you with all your insurance needs. Please let us know if you are planning a change, such as registering a car in Florida, before it happens; that way we can help things go as smoothly as possible. Just contact us at 847-572-0820 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 11, ISSUE 6   •   FEBRUARY, 2016
    ACE-Chubb Deal Complete
    The combining of insurance giants ACE Limited and Chubb Corp. is complete -- and so far the impact on policyholders is minimal. Before the merger, The Bensman Group did business with both companies, and we continue to work with the new, combined company.

    If you are a client, you probably will notice very little change. The appearance of the policies, letters and other paperwork might look slightly different as the two firms try to bring together their branding. But, so far at least, there have been no substantive changes in coverage.

    We will notify clients if there are any changes that might affect them. And, as always, if you have questions about the impact of the merger -- or any other insurance question -- please contact us at 847-572-0820 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 11, ISSUE 5   •   JANUARY, 2016
    Keeping Your Resolutions
    If you are like most people, early in every new year you resolve to change your life for the better. Maybe you want to save more money or lose weight or get more organized or whatever. And by February, you usually have returned to your old ways. But there are some things you can do to improve your odds of success:
    • Know why you want to make a change. When your motivation to spend less or exercise more begins to wane, it is helpful to remember the big-picture reasons for doing those things.
    • Tell others about your resolutions. You are more likely to stick to them if you have gone public.
    • Break things down into more manageable parts. If you want to cut your spending, for example, start with a modest goal like 5 percent. If you meet that goal, you might be inspired to aim for more.
    • Don't get discouraged. If your resolve weakens and you spend or stress more than you should or exercise less, don't throw in the towel. Start again.

    If we at The Bensman Group can help you with your resolutions -- or with any of your insurance or investing needs -- please contact us at 847-572-0820 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 11, ISSUE 4   •   DECEMBER, 2015
    Illinois Not Sending Vehicle Registration Renewal Reminders
    Illinois drivers who relied on receiving a notice mailed by the state to remind them when it is time to renew their vehicle registration are going to need a new plan. The Secretary of State recently announced that, because the state has no budget, it is suspending the mailing of the reminders. The move is expected to save about $450,000 a month.

    This means that drivers need to be aware of when their license plate sticker expires; vehicles with expired stickers are subject to ticketing. You can sign up for email reminders, though. Go to the Secretary of State website, www.cyberdriveillinois.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 11, ISSUE 2   •   NOVEMBER, 2015
    Call Us to Insure Expensive Holiday Gifts
    The holidays are just around the corner. If your gift-giving plans include something really special, such as expensive jewelry or electronics, call us before you leave the store so that we can get the item added to your insurance coverage. Otherwise, if it is stolen or lost before the box is opened, you will lose more than your holiday surprise.

    At The Bensman Group, we want to help you protect the people and things that are important to you. Just give us a call at 847-572-0820 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 11, ISSUE 1   •   OCTOBER, 2015
    Let Us Know When You Put Your Summer Car in Storage
    The hazy, lazy days of summer are over, and it might be time soon to put your summer convertible or sports car into storage. When you do, please give us a call so that we can notify your insurer that your car is no longer on the road. You might save some money on your insurance premium.

    Note, though, that adjusting your policy in this way means that if there is a particularly warm day in December and you decide to take the car out of storage and go for a spin, you won't have coverage unless you call us and let us notify your insurer.

    We are always happy to talk with you about this or any other insurance issue. Just give us a call at 847-572-0820 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 10, ISSUE 12   •   SEPTEMBER, 2015
    Titling Property Into a Trust or LLC
    There are many reasons, including estate planning and succession planning, that an individual might title property into a trust, an LLC or a similar entity. If you have done so or are considering doing so, please give us a call so that we can discuss how to update your homeowner's coverage to add the entity's interest in the property. That will ensure that your policy is providing the coverage that you expect.

    If you have a question about this or any other insurance issue, don't hesitate to give us a call. You can reach us at 847-572-0820 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 10, ISSUE 11   •   AUGUST, 2015
    Insurance for Your Student
    If you have a student going to college or boarding school this fall, you know you need to get sheets and snacks and extra chargers. But don't overlook insurance.

    For example, if your child is going to school more than 100 miles from home and does not take a car, you probably can receive a premium credit on your car insurance. If your child lives in a dorm, the school might offer dorm insurance to cover losses to property. But your student's property is covered under your homeowner's insurance. It is subject to the deductible, but it is relatively simple to extend first-dollar coverage on things like laptops and iPads. Your homeowner's policy also covers your student's property in a rental unit. If you are concerned about liability, you can get a liability extension on your homeowner's and personal umbrella policy. And if you buy a condo or house for your student to live in during college, you need property and liability coverage for that housing.

    So before the new school year begins, check in with us. We can make sure your insurance provides the most effective and economical coverage for your student's needs. To discuss these or any other insurance questions, contact us at 847-572-0820 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 10, ISSUE 10   •   JULY, 2015
    So You Want to Buy a Boat...
    For many people, summer means spending time on the water in a boat. If you get the urge to buy a boat -- whether it is a small runabout or a large yacht -- give us a call long before you get to the marina.

    Placing boat insurance can be a lengthier process than, for example, insuring your car, and we want to be able to put together the best package for you. We suggest that you call as soon as you start thinking about becoming a boat captain, so that we can explain your options and you can make an informed decision.

    The same is true if you are thinking about upgrading from a small boat to a larger one; different kinds of boats need different kinds of coverage. You can talk to us about boat coverage or any other insurance issue at 847-572-0820 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 10, ISSUE 10   •   JUNE, 2015
    Call Us for Information on Cleanup, Other Services
    Spring and summer storms are coming, and the time to make sure you have the names -- and phone numbers -- of reliable disaster cleanup and recovery services is before you need those services. At The Bensman Group, we have a list of companies with which we have worked and that we trust, and we would be happy to share that list with you. We also have lists of other kinds of contractors, from roofers to body shops. If you would like information on those firms, we can share that too.

    Our goal is to help you in any way we can. We know that any kind of loss can be traumatic and expensive, and we want to help you mitigate the trauma and the expense by providing information on reputable companies that can get things done right the first time. For more information, just contact us at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 10, ISSUE 9   •   MAY, 2015
    Keep Us Updated on Your College Student
    If you have a college student, May is a transitional time. But amid all the changes, take a minute to let us know what your student plans to do next. Is he or she going back to the same school in the fall? Moving to a fraternity or sorority house or into an apartment? Changing schools? Taking time off? Studying abroad?

    Is your student doing a summer internship? And if your student has graduated, what is he or she doing next?

    By letting us know about your child's plans, we can help you make sure that he or she has the appropriate insurance coverages for whatever comes next. Please give us a call at 847-572-0820 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 10, ISSUE 8   •   APRIL, 2015
    Call Before You Get Out Your Summer Car
    Do the first nice days of spring have you itching to take your convertible or sports car out of storage? If you took your summer car off your auto policy when you put it away for the winter, make sure to give us a call before you hit the road in the ragtop. That way we can reinstate your coverage, and you can be fully protected as you drive.

    To put a car back on your auto policy or to discuss any other insurance needs, contact us at 847-572-0820 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 10, ISSUE 7   •   MARCH, 2015
    Beware of IRS-Related Scams
    Does this sound familiar? You get a phone call that purports to be from the IRS saying that you owe money and if you don't pay it immediately, something bad will happen. The scammer then asks for personal and financial information.

    The phone call scam appears to be particularly popular this year. But you also might get an official-looking email with a similar message or even one saying that you are due a refund and that you can get it immediately -- as long as you provide your banking information.

    Don't fall for this kind of scam. The real IRS virtually always contacts you initially through the U.S. mail, and the IRS never asks for immediate payment or asks that you provide personal or financial information via email, text or social media.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 10, ISSUE 6   •   FEBRUARY, 2015
    Make Sure You Have Coverage for Valentine's Gifts
    Valentine's Day is almost upon us. If you are planning to present your beloved with an expensive token of your affection, don't wait until you give the gift to get it insured. You should make sure that any expensive item you buy -- for any occasion -- is insured from the moment you take possession in the store. That way, if you lose it or if someone steals it while it is hidden in your sock drawer, you will be able to replace it.

    Just give us a call, and we can ensure that you have coverage. You can reach us with this or any other insurance need at 847-572-0820 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 10, ISSUE 5   •   JANUARY, 2015
    Arctic Blast Calls for Added Protections
    Serious cold has come to much of the country, and it is a good idea to take some precautions to safeguard yourself, your family, your home, your car and your pets.
    • Yourself and your family. Exposed skin can suffer frostbite very quickly in sub-zero temperatures, so bundle up and limit your time outdoors.
    • Your home. Protect against frozen pipes by adding insulation to the pipes and giving them access to the heat from your home. For example, open the doors under your sink so that the warmth can get in. Open a faucet to allow a drip, especially overnight. If your pipes do freeze, call a plumber; don't try to thaw them yourself.
    • Your car. Keep your gas tank at least more than half full, and check your windshield fluid and wipers. Put an emergency kit in your car, and always have a fully charged cell phone.
    • Your pets. Bring your pets indoors or, at the very least, make sure they have a warm, dry place to stay. Limit their time outdoors, and when they come in from a walk, wipe any sidewalk salt or bunched up snow and ice from their feet. READ MORE...


    VOL. 10, ISSUE 4   •   DECEMBER, 2014
    Best Wishes for a Wonderful New Year!
    Amid the hustle and bustle of this busiest of times, we at The Bensman Group would like to wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and a healthy and prosperous new year!

    We are grateful that you turn to us for your investing and insurance needs, and we deeply appreciate not only your business, but also your friendship. From our family to yours, here's to all the best in 2015!
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 10, ISSUE 3   •   NOVEMBER, 2014
    A Special Holiday Tradition
    On Friday November 7, 22 members of the Bensman team went to the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Park City, Ill., to sort and pack food donations for delivery to food distribution networks across northern Illinois. This is the sixth year that we have visited the food bank. It is our way of celebrating the true meaning of the holidays by giving back to the community and helping those who are less fortunate.

    At the food bank, we repacked over 100,000 granola bars into 5-pound boxes for delivery to the food bank's partners. We also spent time verifying that donated pastry and bread items were fresh and repacking those into larger boxes.

    The Northern Illinois Food Bank gathers food donations from grocery stores, corporations, foundations and individuals and distributes them to more than 600 network partners, including food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and feeding programs across 13 counties in northern Illinois. They feed about 60,000 people a week. If you are interested in learning more about the food bank or in volunteering there, please visit their website at solvehungertoday.org.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 10, ISSUE 2   •   OCTOBER, 2014
    Call When You Put Away the Ragtop
    The days are getting shorter and colder -- and that means it might be time to put your convertible, sports car or motorcycle into storage for the winter. When you do, though, give us a call so that we can notify your insurer. You might save some money on your car insurance while your summer ride is in storage.

    Also, if you are closing up your summer home, be sure it is ready for the winter. Shut off the water and drain the pipes if necessary. Consider an alarm system that alerts you if the heat fails or the pipes burst.

    At Bensman, we are happy to talk to you about your insurance needs. Just give us a call at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 10, ISSUE 1   •   SEPTEMBER, 2014
    Check Out Our New Website
    You probably have noticed a new look for this newsletter, which reflects updates made to The Bensman Group's website. Our goal with the website updates was to make the site easier for you to navigate and to provide you with more information about all the services we offer and about our team. We plan to continue to update the site.

    If you have not visited the website lately, please take a look. For example, explore some of the educational pieces under the Client Resources tab.

    We would love to know what you think of our new design and content. We also want to know if you would like to see any additions to the site. Just contact any Bensman associate or Amy Meyer at ameyer@bensman.com or 847-572-0833.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 9, ISSUE 12   •   AUGUST, 2014
    Insurance And Your College Student
    If your child is going away to school, take some time out from buying extra-long sheets and new laptops to give us a call to check your insurance coverages.

    For example, if your child is listed as a driver on your car insurance, goes to school more than 100 miles from home and does not take a car, you could get a discount on your premium. If your child takes a car to school, we can let the insurance carrier know where the car is located.

    If your child lives in student housing, talk to us before you buy any special "dorm insurance." It is very likely that it will be easier and less expensive to extend your homeowner's policy to cover your child's dorm room. Even if your child lives off-campus, it probably will be easier and less expensive to extend your policy to provide property and liability coverage for your child.

    Finally, if you buy a condo or home where your child can live during college or graduate school, we can help you find the most appropriate coverage. Just contact us at dmiller@bensman.com, or 847-572-0820.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 9, ISSUE 11   •   JULY, 2014
    Practice Safe Boating
    Being on the water is a hallmark of summer, but be sure to be safe when you boat. Some basic rules of boating safety include:
    • Never drink and boat.
    • Never carry more passengers than the boat can hold safely.
    • Make sure that every passenger has a Coast Guard-certified life preserver -- and wears it.
    • Don't go out on the water if a storm is imminent.
    • Always make sure you have a charged cell phone or some other way to contact help in case of emergency.
    • When you go boating, let someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back.
    At The Bensman Group, we hope you have a safe and fun-filled summer! As always, please feel free to contact us with any insurance questions at 847-572-0820 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 9, ISSUE 10   •   JUNE, 2014
    Let Us Know Early When You Are Buying a New House
    If you are in the market for a new house, congratulations! We hope you find the perfect home, where you can live happily for a long time. But when you decide on a house, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can start exploring your insurance options.

    It is best to let us know as soon as your offer has been accepted or your closing date has been set. That gives us plenty of time to shop around on your behalf and to find the best combination of coverage and price. If there is a potential problem, such as a home in a flood plain, it gives us more time to find a solution. And it means you can go to your closing confident that your new home is protected.

    So if you are moving, let us know -- sooner rather than later. Just contact us at 847-572-0820 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 9, ISSUE 9   •   MAY, 2014
    Call Us Before You Take Out Your Convertible
    After a winter that featured the polar vortex and its accompanying snow and frigid temperatures, you probably are more than ready to take your summer ride out of storage. But before you start driving your convertible or sports car -- or any other vehicle you put in storage over the winter -- give us a call. We will make sure that your auto insurance policy is updated to provide full coverage. Then you can put the top down and enjoy the sunshine!

    Also let us know if you are opening your summer cabin, so that we can make any adjustments necessary to your coverage. To discuss these or any other insurance issues, just contact us at dmiller@bensman.com or 847-572-0820.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 9, ISSUE 8   •   APRIL, 2014
    Beware of Tax Time Email Scams
    Tax time is prime time for identity thieves who send emails to taxpayers as a way of trying to get personal or financial information, in a process called phishing. The IRS says that one recent approach is for scammers to send an email saying that your return has been flagged because of a document processing error. It asks you to click on a link to the Taxpayer Advocate Service for help resolving the issue. The email looks extremely official, and the Taxpayer Advocate Service is a real entity within the IRS.

    However, the Taxpayer Advocate Service, like the IRS, does not contact taxpayers by email. Clicking on the link in this scam email takes you to a site where you are asked to enter various personal information -- which then is used by identity thieves. If you receive this or any email that purports to be from the IRS, don't respond to the email or open any links. Rather, forward the email to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov .
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 9, ISSUE 7   •   MARCH, 2014
    Watch Out for Damage from Ice Dams
    One unfortunate consequence of a severe winter like this can be ice dams -- thick buildups of ice that can cause damage to your roof and gutters and result in water damage inside your home. If you see signs of ice dams, such as big icicles or signs of leaks, call a roofing professional. Don't try to dislodge or melt the dams yourself; you could end up doing even more damage. Plus, roofs are extremely dangerous in winter.

    If you experience ice dams, you might consider taking some preventive steps once the winter is over. A disaster cleanup company with which we work offers some suggestions:
  • Keep your gutters clean of leaves and other debris.
  • Seal vent pipes, exhaust fans and other places where warm air could leak from your house to your attic, and make sure your roof and attic have sufficient ventilation and insulation.
  • Ensure that your soffits are not blocked.
  • Talk to a roofing professional about installing snow and ice slides, a rubberized ice and water shield, or heating cables to help prevent future ice dams.

    If you experience damage from ice dams or if you have questions about any other insurance issue, feel free to contact us at dmiller@bensman.com, or 847-572-0820. READ MORE...


  • VOL. 9, ISSUE 6   •   FEBRUARY, 2014
    Heat Your Home Safely in Frigid Weather
    The extraordinarily harsh winter is making it hard to stay warm, sometimes even inside your house. But don't risk your safety as you crank up the heat. For example:
    • Use space heaters sparingly, if at all. Use only safety-approved heaters, keep them away from drapes and other flammables, and turn them off when you are not in the room.

    • Make sure that the fresh air intake on your furnace is not covered by snow.

    • Check to make sure your smoke detectors are working.

    • Make sure you have plenty of working carbon monoxide detectors. Faulty furnaces can emit carbon dioxide, which can be deadly. If you have a headache or feel light-headed, disoriented or nauseous, you could be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning; get outside into the fresh air and call the fire department. READ MORE...


    VOL. 9, ISSUE 5   •   JANUARY, 2014
    Watch Out For Black Ice
    Winter driving can be hazardous, and one of the biggest dangers is black ice, which forms on roadways but is extremely difficult to see until you are on it. It tends to form at times and in places where the sun doesn't hit the road, so be especially careful early in the morning or at night, and on curves and bridges, especially in shaded spots.

    If you hit black ice, don't slam on your brakes. Take your foot off the accelerator and hold the wheel steady. Usually black ice patches are relatively small, so your car should find traction soon. If it doesn't and you start to skid, react as with any other skid by pumping the brakes; if you have anti-lock brakes, you can hit the brakes and let the ABS system pump for you. If you can, steer toward areas that might offer more traction, such as snow-covered sections of the road. And if you go off the road, try to steer toward an open field or other area that will minimize the damage to you and to your car.

    The best way to protect against black ice is to avoid driving during conditions or on roads where black ice is likely. If you are in an accident, move your car to safety if possible and take action to keep yourself safe. You can contact us about this or any other question at dmiller@bensman.com, or 847-572-0820.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 9, ISSUE 4   •   DECEMBER, 2013
    Holiday Wishes from Us to You
    It's the time of year to gather with friends and family to celebrate the season and to say farewell to the old year and usher in the new. We at The Bensman Group want to extend to all our clients and friends our best wishes for a wonderful holiday season. We appreciate your making us a part of your lives and allowing us to help you with your insurance and investment needs. We wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous new year! READ MORE...


    VOL. 9, ISSUE 3   •   NOVEMBER, 2013
    Don't Overlook Insurance for Gifts
    If your holiday gift-giving plans include something glittery and expensive, such as jewelry, make sure you have the appropriate insurance coverage in place before you present the gift. Although your homeowner's insurance might provide automatic coverage for a certain period of time, the level of that coverage and the length of time can vary. Give us a call to be safe; we can tell you what your policy says. And once you have chosen a gift, let us know before you actually buy it and take it home. Very expensive items might require an appraisal and underwriter approval in order to secure coverage, so be sure to leave plenty of time.

    Finally, don't worry about the paperwork coming to your home and giving away your surprise -- your secret is safe with us. We can arrange with the insurer to bind coverage but not send the paperwork until after you have presented the gift. For help with this or any other insurance question, just contact us at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 9, ISSUE 2   •   OCTOBER, 2013
    Putting Away Your Convertible
    Falling leaves and shorter days are a sure sign that winter is coming, and that it might be time to put your convertible or sports car in storage for the winter.

    Before you do, though, let us know so that we can adjust your car insurance policy -- and probably save you some money in the process. Just remember to give us a call again before you take the car out of storage.

    At The Bensman Group, we can help you with this or any insurance need. Just contact us at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 9, ISSUE 1   •   SEPTEMBER, 2013
    Amy Meyer Earns CIC
    The Bensman Group is pleased to announce that Amy Meyer, personal lines manager for individual property/casualty insurance, has earned her Certified Insurance Counselor professional designation. In order to earn the CIC designation, Amy had to complete five courses of study, each involving 20 hours of lecture and a two-hour essay exam. In addition, she must take continuing education courses on a yearly basis to maintain the designation.

    The CIC is a prestigious designation that helps insurance professionals better understand the business so they can provide superior service to their clients. Congratulations, Amy, for all your hard work and success! Amy joins Dave Miller and Tim Maurer as Bensman personnel who have earned this designation.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 8, ISSUE 12   •   AUGUST, 2013
    Let Us Know Before You Start Home Remodeling
    If you are planning a home remodeling or renovation project, please give us a call before you start. That way, we can let your homeowner's carrier know, which will help ensure that everything goes smoothly if you have a loss.

    Any changes in coverage or premium will depend on the type and extent of the project. But regardless of the scope of the work, your carrier requires notification before you begin a project, no matter how small. Failure to provide timely notification can cause problems if you end up filing a claim, so please let us know once you have your plans in place -- don't wait until the morning the contractors show up.

    To discuss this or any other insurance questions, contact us at 847-572-0820 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 8, ISSUE 11   •   JULY, 2013
    Should You Get Insurance With Your Rental Car?
    If are renting a car for vacation this summer, should you buy the additional insurance? The short answer is that you probably don't need it. Your insurance most likely covers the rental car just as it would your own car -- with the same limits, terms and deductibles.

    However, there are some things to consider. For example, while most insurers handle a rental car claim just as they would a claim on your personal car, some handle it as a liability claim. The good news is that you probably won't have to pay a deductible. However, if you want to change insurers at a future date, carriers might assume that the accident was your fault, and raise your rate accordingly. Also, if the driver having the accident is not named on the rental contract, your insurer might deny the claim, saying that the person did not have legal permission to drive the car.

    Ultimately, you need to weigh the cost of buying the extra insurance against the potential hassle and risk of dealing with your own insurer to file a claim. At The Bensman Group, we would be happy to discuss with you any insurance questions, including how your policy applies to rental cars. Contact us at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 8, ISSUE 10   •   JUNE, 2013
    Protecting Your College Graduate
    If your child graduated from college this spring, congratulations! This significant achievement honors both your child's hard work and your love and support.

    When the celebrations are over, though, give us a call so that we can ensure that your graduate's insurance coverage is up-to-date. For example, is your graduate starting graduate school? Beginning a new job? Moving back in with you? Getting an apartment alone or with friends? Buying a house or moving into a condo you are buying? We can help you determine whether your coverage needs any changes.

    Plus, we would like to hear about the accomplishments of your children and get the chance to offer our congratulations and best wishes. Just contact us at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 8, ISSUE 9   •   MAY, 2013
    Bensman Employees Provide Books for Kids
    Last month, employees of The Bensman Group pitched in to promote reading for at-risk Chicago-area children. The firm hosted a book drive April 1 to 16 to collect books appropriate for young readers. Then, on April 16, about 20 Bensman employees went to Bernie's Book Bank in Lake Forest, Ill., from 4:30 to 6 p.m. to sort, sticker and bag books for the kids.

    Bernie's Book Bank helps collect and distribute new and gently used children's books to encourage reading and book ownership among underprivileged children throughout Chicagoland. Since 2009, they have distributed more than 1.3 million books. The Bensman employee event was organized by the firm's Community Outreach team, led by Amy Meyer, Catrina Wickman and Diana Foran.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 8, ISSUE 8   •   APRIL, 2013
    Time to Check Your Sump Pump
    Now is the time to make sure your sump pump is able to cope with the heavy rains that often come in spring and summer. Test your pump, and have it inspected and repaired if necessary. Make sure your backup system will kick in if a storm causes your home to lose power. Taking a little time now can keep you from finding your basement full of water sometime down the road.

    And if you do end up with a significant amount of water in your basement, don't try to deal with it yourself. Instead, call a disaster recovery company that has the equipment and expertise to dry out and clean up your home before larger problems arise. At The Bensman Group, we work with several quality companies. If you would like some recommendations, or if you want to discuss any aspect of your insurance coverage, contact us at dmiller@bensman.com, or 847-572-0820.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 8, ISSUE 7   •   MARCH, 2013
    Getting Ready for the Ragtop
    March is the beginning of spring, and even if there is snow on the ground at the start of the month, sometime before the end you are likely to have one of those sunny, warm days that make you want to get your convertible or sports car out of storage and take it for a spin.

    If you have taken the car off your insurance plan while it is in storage, though, remember to give us a call before you hit the road. It will only take a couple of minutes to add your summer ride back onto your policy. To discuss this or any other insurance concern, contact us at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 8, ISSUE 6   •   FEBRUARY, 2013
    Clear Off that Snow and Ice
    Now that we are in the midst of winter, you probably are tired of the cold and snow. But it is very important to keep your sidewalks, steps and driveways clear of snow and ice.

    Obviously, that helps keep you, your family members and friends from falling and getting hurt. It makes it easier for kids to walk past on their way to the school bus and for the letter carrier to deliver your mail. And it also can help protect you from liability that could happen if someone slips and is injured on your property.

    So haul out the shovel, and spread a little salt. And remember -- spring is around the corner. Meanwhile, if you have any insurance questions or needs, contact us at 572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 8, ISSUE 5   •   JANUARY, 2013
    Remember to Check Your Beneficiaries
    We at The Bensman Group want to wish you a happy and healthy new year. As you recommit yourself to organization at the start of the year, take a little time to check the beneficiaries you have chosen for your life insurance, retirement plan, etc. If you are like many people, you named a beneficiary when you took out your insurance policy or signed up for your company retirement plan, and then you did not think about it again. But life changes, and those changes can affect your choice of beneficiary.

    For example, say you started with an employer when you were 24 and single. You signed on for the company 401(k), and you named your parents as your beneficiaries. Now, 10 years later, you are married with a couple of kids. If you never changed your beneficiary, your parents would get the money in your 401(k) if something happened to you. Similarly, if you named your wife as beneficiary and subsequently divorced and remarried, you probably want to change your beneficiary to your current wife.

    We would be happy to help you review your beneficiaries, or to answer any other questions you have about your insurance coverage. Just contact us at 572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 8, ISSUE 4   •   DECEMBER, 2012
    Happy Holidays!
    We at The Bensman Group want to take this opportunity to wish all of our clients and friends a happy holiday season. May you enjoy the love and companionship of friends and family, and may you experience all the joy of this magical season.

    We thank you for your business and for your friendship, and we wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 8, ISSUE 3   •   NOVEMBER, 2012
    A Few Autumn Reminders
    It's that time of year again, so give us a call if you put your convertible or sports car into storage for the winter. We can adjust your coverage so that your premium goes down until you take it out again in the spring. Just remember to call us before you hit the road again, even briefly.

    Also, if you have a summer home that you do not use during the cold weather, this is the time to winterize it properly. If you do not heat the home during the winter, be sure to turn off the water and drain the pipes. Also, consider adding a moisture sensor to your alarm system so that you will know if a pipe breaks or other water-related issues occur.

    For more information about your insurance coverage, contact us at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 8, ISSUE 2   •   OCTOBER, 2012
    Bensman Adds New Carrier to Expand Client Options
    The Bensman Group is pleased to announce that we have been appointed an agent of the Cincinnati Insurance Cos. The Center for Insurance and Policy Research listed Cincinnati Insurance Company 2011 among the top 25 U.S. property/casualty insurers based on 2011 written premium.

    Cincinnati Insurance was founded in 1950 by four independent agents, and the commitment to independent agents is central to their philosophy; they believe that independent agents are best positioned to understand and serve their clients. The independent provider of insurance ratings A. M Best rated Cincinnati's financial strength as A+ (superior) in the property casualty group.

    We believe in working with a variety of highly ranked carriers to ensure that our clients have access to a variety of underwriting, pricing and coverage options. If you have questions about Cincinnati Insurance, or about any of your insurance needs, please contact us at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 7, ISSUE 12   •   AUGUST, 2012
    Insurance and Your College Student
    If you have a child going to college this fall, there probably are a lot of things on your to-do list. But don't forget to address a couple of insurance issues:
    • Let us know your child's address at school, so we can add that address to your policies.

    • If your child is not taking a car to school and if school is more than 100 miles from home, you probably are eligible for a discount on your auto premium. If your child is taking a car, remind the child that he or she should never lend the car to someone else.

    • You probably should not buy dorm insurance offered through the school, because your homeowner's insurance covers your child's property at school. The coverage is subject to your deductible, but you can add first-dollar coverage for specific items such as computers and iPads.
    To discuss these or any other insurance questions, contact us at 847-572-0800 or email me at dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 7, ISSUE 11   •   JULY, 2012
    Tips on Boating Safety
    For many people, summer time is boating time. But before you head out for a day on the water, consider some safety precautions:
    • Make sure the driver is experienced in the type of boat and the water and weather conditions.
    • Never drink and drive your boat.
    • Don't overload your boat.
    • Ensure that everyone on board has a Coast Guard-approved life preserver -- and wears it.
    • Plan your outing so that you have plenty of time to get back to your dock before dark, unless you are experienced at night boating and have the necessary lights.
    • Have a cell phone or radio. And tell someone on shore where you are going and when you expect to be back.
    If you have any questions about your boat insurance or any other insurance issue, please contact us at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 7, ISSUE 10   •   JUNE, 2012
    Speeding in Illinois Will Cost You
    If you are driving in Illinois this summer, you should keep an eye on your speedometer, especially in construction zones. The Illinois Department of Transportation is implementing tough new penalties for speeding above the construction zone's posted 45 miles per hour limit -- and using cameras to catch offenders.

    If you are caught on camera or by state troopers, you will get a $375 ticket. And if you are caught again, you can expect to pay a $1,000 fine and lose your license for 90 days. In addition to the hefty fines, you will get demerit points on your license, which probably will result in an increase in your insurance rates.

    Obeying posted speed limits is only one way you can help control your car insurance costs. For additional help with your insurance questions, contact us at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 7, ISSUE 9   •   MAY, 2012
    Getting Coverage for a Boat
    If the coming summer has you itching to buy a boat, you should know that it takes at least one business day to bind coverage on watercraft. That means that if you call us from the marina at 4:30 p.m. on the Friday before Memorial Day, you won't be able to take out your boat that weekend. So if you are thinking about buying a boat, especially if you know what kind of boat you want, call us so we can start contacting underwriters and getting information on premiums.

    Some -- but not all -- of the information we need to get started includes: the year, make and model of the boat; the type of boat (runabout, jet-ski, bass boat, pontoon, etc.); the hull construction (fiberglass, wood, aluminum, etc.); the number and type of engines (outboard, inboard, inboard/outboard, etc.); total horsepower; top speed; purchase price; address when not in the water; name and driver's license number of each operator; and number of years of boating experience of the principal operator. Contact us at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com, and we'll have you out on the water as soon as possible.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 7, ISSUE 8   •   APRIL, 2012
    Make the Most of Your Refund
    If you receive a refund this tax season, you might be tempted to treat yourself to a dinner out or a little trip or a new outfit. But instead, consider using your refund to make a long-term investment in your future by saving or investing the money. That way, it can continue to grow and help you build financial security -- which will last a lot longer than a new outfit. READ MORE...


    VOL. 7, ISSUE 7   •   MARCH, 2012
    Ready for the Ragtop?
    After a long winter, you might be getting anxious to get your convertible or sports car out of storage so you can take a springtime spin and enjoy the warm wind in your hair. Before you do, however, let us know so we can make sure your car insurance is back in force. Similarly, let us know before you put your boat or other watercraft back in the water. All it takes is a call to 847-572-0800, and then you will be ready to hit the road in your ragtop. READ MORE...


    VOL. 7, ISSUE 6   •   FEBRUARY, 2012
    Get a Head Start on Your Tax Filing
    There is no time like the present to get started on filing your 2011 income taxes, even though you technically have a couple of months to mail your return. But the earlier you start, the more time you have to gather the information you need and to determine whether you have taken advantage of all the deductions and credits to which you are entitled.

    Plus, if you are getting a refund, the earlier you file, the earlier you get your money. If you put that refund into savings or investments, the earlier it starts earning interest or returns for you. And if you file earlier, you will be able to sit back and enjoy the spring.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 7, ISSUE 5   •   JANUARY, 2012
    It's Time to File Your FAFSA
    If you have a child in college or heading off to college in the fall, you should file your FAFSA as soon as possible. You use the FAFSA -- the Free Application for Federal Student Aid -- to apply for a variety of college grants and loans. You can file your FAFSA any time after Jan. 1 and, although the deadline this year is June 30, the earlier you file the better.

    You can find out what you need for FAFSA and then file online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. In general, you can get all the information you need to file your form from your 2011 tax return. If you don't expect to file your taxes until closer to the April deadline, you can use estimates for FAFSA.

    Finally, we at The Bensman Group wish all of you a happy new year. If there is anything we can help you with, please feel free to contact us at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com .
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 7, ISSUE 4   •   DECEMBER, 2011
    Kicking off the Season
    In what has become an annual effort to kick off the spirit of the holiday season, 18 people from The Bensman Group went to the Northern Illinois Food Bank's Lake County Branch in Park City, where we assembled boxes and packed approximately 15,000 pounds of meat for distribution to needy families. In an interesting turn of events, one of the vendors for our group insurance department heard our out-of-office message explaining where we were, and they called the food bank and made a donation of their own.

    Now that the holidays are upon us, we would like to take this opportunity to offer all of you our best wishes for the peace and happiness of the season, and for a happy and healthy new year!
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 7, ISSUE 3   •   NOVEMBER, 2011
    The Meaning of the Season
    Thanksgiving is the official start of the holiday season of giving and eating and entertaining and traveling over the river and through the woods. But this Thanksgiving, before you get caught up in the wonderful craziness, take a moment to reflect on all the things you have to be grateful for.

    At The Bensman Group, we are grateful for you, our clients, and for the way you have welcomed us into your lives and allowed us to help you achieve your goals of financial security. As individuals, we are grateful for our families and friends. And we are grateful for the opportunities we have to grow as people and to help others.

    These are tough times for many people, and unsettling times for everyone. But especially in times like this, and especially as we begin a season of love and celebration, it is good to take a moment to reflect on all that is right in our world. So from all of us at The Bensman Group, Happy Thanksgiving!
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 7, ISSUE 2   •   OCTOBER, 2011
    Some Autumn Chores
    The leaves are turning, and the days are getting shorter. Which means it is time to tackle your fall to-do list. Your autumn chores might include:
    • If you have a convertible, boat, etc., that you plan to put in storage for the winter, give us a call so we can adjust your insurance.

    • Have your furnace inspected by a heating professional. This can save you money by ensuring that your furnace runs at its peak efficiency, and it also might help you avoid major problems from a serious furnace malfunction. And if you need a new furnace, you have time to get one before the really cold weather sets in.

    • If you have a summer home that you do not use over the winter, now is the time to make sure it is winterized. If you turn off the heat, turn off the water and drain the pipes. You also can consider adding a moisture detection system to your burglar and fire alarm. Some moisture detection monitors include an automatic shutoff valve at the water main.

    We at The Bensman Group are happy to talk to you about these or any other coverage concerns you might have. Just give us a call at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 7, ISSUE 1   •   SEPTEMBER, 2011
    It's Time to Keep Learning
    It's September, and no matter how old you are, you probably feel the sense of new beginnings that comes from the start of a new school year. Remember when you were starting school, and anything seemed possible?

    Well, it's never too late to learn. Maybe you are considering going back for an advanced degree, or maybe you just want to learn how to do something new, from knitting to computer programming. Learning new things expands your opportunities as well as your mind. And research shows that continuing to challenge yourself intellectually can help you stay mentally sharp and stave off Alzheimer's and other cognitive changes.

    So get out and get learning. After all, it's September.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 6, ISSUE 12   •   AUGUST, 2011
    College Insurance Questions
    If your child is headed off to college, there are a few insurance issues you should take care of first:
    • Let us know your child's address at school, so we can add that address to your policies.

    • Let us know if your child is taking a car to school. If not, and if your child's school is more than 100 miles from home, you probably are eligible for a discount on your auto premium. If your child is taking a car, make it very clear that under no circumstances can he or she lend the car to someone else.

    • Dorm insurance offered through the school is rarely a good idea; your child's property is covered by your homeowner's coverage. It is subject to your deductible, but you can add first-dollar coverage for specific items such as computers and iPads.
    To discuss these or any other insurance questions, contact us at 847-572-0800 or email me at dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 6, ISSUE 11   •   JULY, 2011
    Boating Safety Tips
    Summer is boating time, and it is great fun to get out on the water. However, it is important to be safe. The U.S. Coast Guard offers some tips for boating safety:
    • Always wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket that fits you, and make sure everyone in the boat wears one, too.
    • Never boat when you are impaired by alcohol or drugs.
    • Make sure your boat has safety equipment, including flares, a paddle and a marine radio.
    • Don't overload your boat, and don't carry more people than you have life jackets.
    • Take a boating safety class.
    • Never boat at night unless you have the required lights.
    • When you go out on your boat, always let someone on shore know where you are going and when you plan to be back.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 6, ISSUE 10   •   JUNE, 2011
    Check on Vacation Rentals
    If your summer plans include some kind of rental, it might pay to check your insurance coverage. There usually is no issue if you are renting a car, or if you are renting a vacation home for less than a month. However, if you are renting a home for more than a month, it is a good idea to review your coverage and see whether you need to extend your liability coverage to your vacation digs. Also call if you are renting a camper, motor home, boat, Jet-Ski or any similar vehicle; depending on the insurance company, there are different underwriting rules and exclusions that cover renting a vehicle other than a car. Just contact us at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com. READ MORE...


    VOL. 6, ISSUE 9   •   MAY, 2011
    Insurance and Your College Graduate
    If your child is graduating from college, congratulations to you both! There is a lot to celebrate and plan for at this momentous time, but take a minute to think about how graduating from college can affect your child's insurance needs.

    There are many questions to consider before removing your college graduate from the home, auto and umbrella insurance policies. While it may be financially tempting to split them off of your insurance, they may still be considered part of your household, especially if you are still paying most of their day-to-day expenses.

    Among the questions to consider are:
    • If your child moved into an apartment, did you co-sign the lease? Are you paying all or part of the rent?
    • Is your name on the title of your child's car?
    • Are they still listed on your health insurance plan?
    • What address shows on your child's driver's license? Voter registration card?
    Finally, depending on your graduate's personal situation, he or she might need to consider special coverages such as disability or life insurance. We at The Bensman Group would be happy to sit down with you and/or your graduate and discuss these and any other insurance questions. Just contact us at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 6, ISSUE 8   •   APRIL, 2011
    Understanding Your Flood Coverage
    In spring, a homeowner's thoughts too often turn to flooding. Before you find your basement full of water, you should be clear about the coverage you have for water damage to your home. Insurers define flooding as "the intrusion of surface water from an external source," and your homeowner's insurance does not cover flooding. So, for example, if water from your yard flows in through your basement windows, you are not covered for the damage. Homeowner's policies also do not usually cover damage from water that seeps into your home from cracks in your foundation. For these kinds of coverage, you need flood insurance. However, policies usually do cover water damage from storm or sanitary sewers that back up through your drains.

    If you end up with water in your basement this spring, or any time, we can help provide you with resources to determine the causes of your flooding and the names of reliable cleanup companies who can help you get things back to normal. We also can help you review your coverage options. Contact us at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 6, ISSUE 7   •   MARCH, 2011
    Before You Take Out the Ragtop...
    Spring is in the air, and your thoughts might be turning to that convertible or sports car you put in storage last fall. You probably are itching to put the top down and hit the open road. Before you do, though, give us a call. If you took your car off your policy when you put it in storage, you need to put it back on before you drive it.. So take a few minutes to call us at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com. We'll make sure that you are good to go. READ MORE...


    VOL. 6, ISSUE 6   •   FEBRUARY, 2011
    Let Us Know About Mortgage Changes
    Refinancing or otherwise changing your mortgage can save you money and advance your financial goals. But if you make a change to your mortgage or pay off a mortgage or home equity line of credit, please let us know right away. Once informed, we will make the necessary adjustments to your homeowner's insurance coverage.

    Most people remember to contact us when they first get a mortgage. However, often the mortgage holder sells the mortgage almost immediately. Or your mortgage company might be acquired by another company; this has been especially common in the last few years. If your mortgage was sold or your mortgage company was acquired, you probably received a letter from the new company asking that you update your insurance with new information. Once informed, we would send updated insurance documents. If you don't let us know, you probably will receive another letter saying that your new mortgage holder is going to take out "forced placement" insurance on your behalf. Although most banks will cancel the placement with no cost to you once they receive notice of insurance, you could end up having to pay for the forced placement coverage.

    So before that happens, just give us a call or send us an email at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com with your new information, and we'll be happy to handle the rest.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 6, ISSUE 5   •   JANUARY, 2011
    Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions
    The new year is a favorite time for making resolutions. However, many of those resolutions don't last. Some fitness experts recently gave some suggestions for helping you achieve your weight-loss resolutions, but these suggestions also apply to other goals as well:
    • Goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and tangible. Don't say, for example, "I want to be more frugal in 2011." Instead, say, "I want to cut my spending by 5 percent a month throughout 2011."
    • Set small goals on the way to your big goal. If you want to stop smoking for good, for example, start by not smoking for a day, then for a week.
    • Come up with a plan of action for achieving your goals. For example, if you want to eat better, get rid of your junk food, make menus and shop for healthy foods.
    • Make sure your goals are achievable. For example, if you want to lose weight, plan to lose a sustainable 1 to 2 pounds a week. Don't expect to lose 5 pounds a week. You won't be able to do it, and you will get discouraged and quit. READ MORE...


    VOL. 6, ISSUE 4   •   DECEMBER, 2010
    Getting in Shape
    If you are thinking about joining a gym, December and January can be a good time to do so. Many gyms offer discounted memberships or trial memberships in hopes of luring in people who are resolved to work off that extra holiday turkey and egg nog. So be on the lookout for deals, both from private workout facilities and from the fitness center at your local park district.

    And if you do decide to join, exercise some common sense. Make sure you have the right shoes for the activity you are planning to try; don't wear basketball shoes on the treadmill, for example. And don't overdo it right off the bat. That increases the chance that you will get hurt or discouraged and quit. Instead, start slowly and work your way into a fitness routine that you can follow for the long term.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 6, ISSUE 3   •   NOVEMBER, 2010
    Time for a Furnace Check
    After what was in many parts of the country an exceptionally warm and sunny fall, it looks like winter is fast approaching. That means it is time to get your furnace checked and serviced, if you have not already done so.

    Getting your furnace serviced by a professional can ensure that you and your family will be safe from malfunctions that can leave you without heat or fill your house with dangerous fumes. It also can save you money by helping your furnace run as efficiently as possible.

    And if you want or need to replace your furnace, you still have a few weeks left in the federal tax credit program for energy efficiency. If you buy an energy-efficient furnace by Dec. 31, 2010, you might be eligible for a tax credit of 30 percent of the cost, up to $1,500. Check with your tax adviser for details.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 6, ISSUE 2   •   OCTOBER, 2010
    Cycling for Sinai
    Steve Koch, a friend and client of The Bensman Group, has undertaken an amazing journey that was discussed during a lunchtime meeting with Bob Bensman, Chairman and CEO of Bensman. Steve is Chairman of the Board of Sinai Health System on Chicago's West Side, a hospital that his grandfather helped to found. Most of the patients the hospital serves cannot afford to pay, so funding is a constant concern. Steve is doing much more than writing a check. He and his son, Jacob, are riding across the country, from San Diego to Saint Augustine, Fla., raising money for the hospital.

    They started in September and plan to finish their ride by November 1 in St. Augustine. Steve has invited friends to join him, and Bob Bensman is planning to bike the last leg in Florida. You can follow Steve's journey at his website, www.cyclingforsinai.com. If you are so inclined, you may make a contribution. Even if you do not contribute, we encourage you to visit the website to share his enthusiasm, and to learn.

    READ MORE...


    VOL. 6, ISSUE 1   •   SEPTEMBER, 2010
    Run for a Good Cause
    On Sunday, Sept. 19, there will be a very special charity run in Libertyville. The Super Jake & Friends' Heroes Dash is a 5K run/walk sponsored by the Super Jake Foundation, which raises money to fund research to find a cure for neuroblastoma, a deadly childhood cancer, and to help the families of the young victims of the disease. The event will be held at the Independence Grove Forest Preserve, 16400 W. Buckley Road in Libertyville. In addition to the 5K, there is a Little Heroes Dash for kids 12 and under. For more information or to register, click here

    Bensman's David Miller is planning to participate in the run in memory of his daughter, Emma, who died in the delivery room on April 5, 1996. He would love to have the opportunity to present donations on behalf of Bensman clients and employees on the day of the run. If you would like to help out this worthy cause, make your check payable to The Super Jake Foundation, and put "David Miller -- Bensman" on the memo line. You can mail your donation to David Miller, The Bensman Group, 2333 Waukegan Road, Suite 275, Bannockburn, IL 60015.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 5, ISSUE 12   •   AUGUST, 2010
    Insurance for Your College Kid
    As your child heads off to college, you probably have covered the usual bases with extra-long sheets, a laptop and your old couch. But what about insurance?

    First, let us know the address of your child's dorm or apartment, so that we can extend the property and liability coverage of your homeowners coverage. Usually, that's all you need. Property coverage is subject to your policy's deductible, but if your child has specific valuables, you can get a rider to your policy. More importantly, your homeowners insurance extends liability coverage to your student. This will help protect her--and potentially you--from losses that could be far greater than the cost of that old couch.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 5, ISSUE 11   •   JULY, 2010
    Call Before You Rent a Facility
    Summer sees more than the usual share of weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, anniversaries and more. If you rent a facility to celebrate a special event with large numbers of family and friends, give us a call. Many facilities will offer you some form of "special event" insurance. But you might already have the coverage you need under your homeowner's or umbrella policy.

    On the other hand, you might need coverage if you host certain more public events, such as a fundraiser, hole-in-one tournament, concert, etc. We will be happy to check your policies and let you know if you need additional coverage. To discuss this or any other issue, please give us a call at 847-572-0800.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 5, ISSUE 10   •   JUNE, 2010
    Boat Coverage Takes a Little Time
    Summer's here, and it's time to hit the water with your boat or Jet-Ski. Before you do, though, check to make sure you have the right insurance coverage.

    It's important to note that insurers generally don't give us--or any agents--binding authority on watercraft. That means that you have to have insurance in place before you hit the water. This is different from many other coverages. For example, you can buy a car over the weekend and be covered from the time you drive off the lot, even if you don't call us until Monday, as long as you already have a policy in place on other vehicles. But with a boat or Jet-Ski, you need to call us during business hours and give us plenty of advance notice to make sure your coverage is in place. For questions about watercraft coverage or any other insurance needs, contact us at at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 5, ISSUE 9   •   MAY, 2010
    Insurance and Your College Graduate
    If you have a child graduating from college, first let us offer our congratulations to your graduate and to you. College graduation is a tremendous accomplishment, and it often represents the start of a person's independent life as an adult. That can be a bittersweet event for parents, so take a few moments to appreciate the great job you have done helping to launch your son or daughter.

    Then, give us a call. If your graduate has had renter's insurance, or if you have extended your own homeowner's coverage to include your child's college residence, we need to know so that we can adjust the coverage. If your child had a car at school that was covered under your auto policy, we need to make those adjustments, too. And we can help answer any questions you or your graduate might have about insurance as he or she starts a new life.

    Let us know even if your child is returning to school next fall, especially if your student had renter's insurance or was covered under your homeowner's or auto policy. We will be happy to make any necessary changes to your coverage, and to talk to you about options for protecting your child and yourself. Contact us at at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 5, ISSUE 8   •   APRIL, 2010
    Flood Insurance Reminder
    Spring is flood season, which makes it a good time to talk about coverage for water damage to your home. Your homeowner's insurance does not cover flooding, which insurers define as "the intrusion of surface water from an external source." This means, for example, water that pools in your yard or on your driveway and comes in through your basement windows or door.

    Homeowner's policies also do not usually cover damage from water that seeps into your home from cracks in your foundation. About the only water damage that your homeowner's policy covers is damage from water backup from drains. For other kinds of coverage, you need flood insurance--which we would be happy to discuss with you.

    If you get water in your basement, we can help you determine the source of the water and navigate your options. We also can provide you with the names of reliable cleanup contractors with which we work. And of course, we can review your coverage at any time. Contact us at at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 5, ISSUE 7   •   MARCH, 2010
    Check the Coverage on Your Rag Top
    Hopefully, the snows of early March will give way soon to warm and sunny spring weather that makes us think about driving around town with the top down. Before you get your convertible or sportscar out of storage, though, give us a call so that we can make sure you have coverage. If you put your car in storage for the winter, you probably dropped your insurance, and you'll need to resume it before you drive off in the spring. To check on the status of the coverage on your car -- or your boat or RV or any other warm-weather toys you might have put into storage-- contact us at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com. READ MORE...


    VOL. 5, ISSUE 6   •   JANUARY, 2010
    It's Illegal--and Stupid--to Text and Drive
    The state of Illinois' ban on texting while driving took effect January 1, making Illinois the 19th state to outlaw the practice, and more states are almost certain to follow suit. The federal government has banned texting while driving for federal workers. These actions make good sense, if we want to make our roads safer.

    We know that texting while driving is dangerous. In fact, a recent study by Car and Driver magazine showed that, in terms of braking response times, drivers who are texting are more impaired than drivers who are legally drunk. So resolve to personally follow the new law, and talk to your younger drivers about the dangers of taking their eyes off the road to read or send a text. Since January 1, the practice is not just stupid and dangerous--it is illegal.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 5, ISSUE 5   •   JANUARY, 2010
    Time to Check Your Beneficiaries
    The beginning of the year is a good time to check the beneficiaries you have chosen for your life insurance, retirement plans and any other account for which you had to name a beneficiary. Most people choose a beneficiary when they open the account or buy the life insurance. However, life changes might create a need for you to change your beneficiary.

    For example, if you are single when you take out your insurance and then you marry, you might want to make your spouse your beneficiary. On the other hand, if you are married and then divorce, you might want to remove your former spouse as beneficiary. If you have young children, you could make them secondary beneficiaries. If your children are grown with children of their own, you could make your grandchildren your secondary beneficiaries.

    While you are checking the beneficiary on your insurance policies, you also should consider whether the amount of insurance coverage you have is still adequate for your needs. To discuss these or any other issues, call us at 847-572-0800.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 5, ISSUE 4   •   DECEMBER, 2009
    Let Us Know if Your Mortgage is Sold
    It can make good economic sense to take advantage of current low interest rates and refinance your house. Just be sure to let us know if your mortgage is sold to another company, so that we can change the name of the lien holder on your insurance policy.

    If your mortgage is sold, you will get a letter from your mortgage holder. This often happens soon after you refinance. As soon as you get that letter, give us a call at The Bensman Group so we can change your insurance documents to reflect the change in mortgage holders. If you don't, your new mortgage holder could charge you for expensive additional insurance coverage. It is possible to get out of those charges, but it is much better to avoid them in the first place.

    To discuss this or any other insurance needs, just give us a call at 847-572-0800 or email me at dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 5, ISSUE 3   •   NOVEMBER, 2009
    A Time for Giving Thanks
    Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and we at The Bensman Group would like to take this opportunity to say how grateful we are to all of you. We know that the last few years have been extremely difficult for most people, and we appreciate your loyalty and your friendship. As we all gather with our families this season, please know that we appreciate your being part of the Bensman family. READ MORE...


    VOL. 5, ISSUE 2   •   OCTOBER, 2009
    Is It Time to Put Your Car in Storage?
    Unfortunately, ragtop weather has probably gone, and you might be thinking about putting your convertible, sports car, boat or ATV away for the winter. You can get at least some solace from the fact that you will save money if you take your vehicle off your insurance policy while it is in storage. Just remember, though, that you cannot drive while your policy is on hiatus.

    If you would like to take your vehicle off your policy for the winter, just give us a call at 847-572-0800. And be sure to call us again before you take it out of storage next spring.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 5, ISSUE 1   •   SEPTEMBER, 2009
    It's Time to Check Your Furnace
    The days are getting shorter, and there is a definite chill in the air. Which means that it is time to have your furnace checked before winter really sets in.

    You should have a professional service your furnace and make any necessary repairs before each heating season. Most importantly, an annual checkup ensures that your furnace is safe to operate. It also keeps your furnace working as efficiently as possible -- and that saves you money on your heating bill.

    READ MORE...


    VOL. 4, ISSUE 12   •   AUGUST, 2009
    College and Insurance
    As the start of college approaches, you probably have been busy buying books and laptops and extra-long sheets. But take a few minutes to consider how your insurance needs may change.

    For example, if your child goes to school more than 100 miles from home and does not take a car, let us know -- you will receive a premium credit on your insurance. If your student rents an apartment, you can consider buying renter's insurance. However, unless the landlord requires it or your child has a lot of expensive property in the apartment, you probably can get a liability extension endorsement to include your student's apartment on your homeowner's policy. It usually costs about $50 a year to give your child liability coverage through your policy; if you want to extend your umbrella coverage as well, that could cost another $50 to $100 per year, depending on the limits of your policy.

    We would be happy to talk with you about insurance issues related to college, or about any insurance concerns you have. Please contact me, or any member of The Bensman Group team, at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 4, ISSUE 11   •   JULY, 2009
    Risks of the Dog Days of Summer
    It is summer, and everyone is outside more -- including the family dog. But be aware that you could be liable for injuries your dog might cause to people or property.

    A serious dog bite almost always results in cancellation of your homeowners coverage by your carrier. And while you may think your dog would never bite someone, you can't be sure how a dog will react if it is threatened or startled.

    You also could be in trouble if your dog causes other injury to people, such as knocking them over, or to property, such as digging up your neighbor's heirloom tomatoes. It is best to keep your dog contained to your property and monitor its interactions with people.

    Finally, if you are considering getting a dog, you might want to check with us first. Some insurers balk at providing coverage to homes with certain breeds of dogs. We can answer your questions about these and any other insurance issues at 847-572-0800 or dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 4, ISSUE 10   •   JUNE, 2009
    Check Your Watercraft Coverage
    It finally is time to take to the lake in your boat or your Jet-Ski. But before you do, please check with us to see if there are any restrictions to your coverage. For example, some insurers do not provide coverage at all for Jet-Ski use between dusk and dawn. Another common restriction has to do with operating watercraft by people who do not have a valid driver's license.

    So before you cast off, take a few minutes to see if there are any issues with your policy. You can reach us at 847-572-0800 or email me at dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 4, ISSUE 9   •   MAY, 2009
    Summer Can Change Insurance Needs for Students
    It is spring, which means that college kids are coming home. Before the summer gets under way, let us know if the end of the school year means we should make any changes in your insurance coverage. For example:
  • Did your student graduate? If they are lucky enough to have landed a job, will they be living at home or renting an apartment? Do they need renters insurance? And are you planning to remove them from your auto insurance?

  • Should we cancel any coverage you have on their apartment at school, or are they staying there to go to summer school or work?

  • Are they doing any international travel over the summer? If so, they should consider travel insurance and coverage for theft or loss of their travel documents and for emergency medical evacuation.

    To discuss these and any other insurance needs, just give us a call at 847-572-0800 or email me at dmiller@bensman.com. READ MORE...


  • VOL. 4, ISSUE 8   •   APRIL, 2009
    Looking Toward the Future
    These are difficult financial times, and that makes it even more important to plan for the future. For example, the current problems in the economy and in the financial and housing markets make this a great time to review your estate plan.

    Interest rates are at historically low levels, and the federal and state governments are looking for additional revenue. In addition, the estate tax reductions passed under President George W. Bush are scheduled to expire in 2010, and it remains unclear what will happen to those rates. Given such factors, you might want to consider the many ways to transfer assets to the next generation, to help ensure that the people you love are taken care of.

    We at The Bensman Group would be happy to help you explore your options and choose the approach that works best for you and your family. Just give us a call at 847-572-0800, or email me at jfeiger@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 4, ISSUE 7   •   MARCH, 2009
    Time to Get Out the Ragtop?
    Does the first taste of spring have you itching to get your convertible or sports car out of storage? Just make sure you are insured when you hit the road.

    If you put a stop on your coverage when you put the car away for the winter, you need to notify us at The Bensman Group to start your coverage up again before you pull out of the garage. That way, you won't have any unpleasant surprises to mar your re-entry into spring.

    In order to reinstate your insurance, give us a call at 847-572-0800 or email us at dmiller@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 4, ISSUE 6   •   FEBRUARY, 2009
    Most Expensive Colleges
    If you are paying college tuition, or thinking about paying college tuition, you know that that the cost of college has been rising faster than the Consumer Price Index for years. But at some prestigious institutes of higher learning, that increase has gone into the stratosphere.

    The most expensive college in the United States in 2008-2009 was Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y., where students (or their parents) had to plunk down a whopping $40,350 in tuition alone. That does not even include room and board (an additional $13,104), which makes the total $53,454. And then there are books and other essentials like pizza and spring break in Cancun.

    Of course, many students receive grants or scholarships to help offset the cost of tuition. But the most expensive schools still take a chunk out of any budget. Rounding out the most expensive colleges in 2008-2009 (Figures are tuition and room and board.):

    2. George Washington University, Washington, D.C.: $50,357
    3. Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.: $50,275
    4. Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.: $50,241
    5. University of Chicago: $50,189
    6. New York University: $50,182
    7. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa.: $49,804
    8. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.: $49,560
    9. Boston College: $49,560
    10. Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.: $49,470
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 4, ISSUE 5   •   JANUARY, 2009
    Start the New Year Off Right
    The start of a new year is the time for all kinds of resolutions. So take the opportunity to resolve to do a check of some basic, but extremely important, financial items, including:

  • Your beneficiaries. Many people name a beneficiary on their life insurance, retirement plan, etc., and then don't think about it again. But life changes, and changes such as marriage, divorce, and the birth of children and grandchildren may cause you to want to change your beneficiaries.

  • Your insurance amounts. Have you looked lately at the amount of coverage you have on your life and property? Is it adequate, or should you adjust it to reflect changes in your life situation?

  • Your asset allocation. Is your allocation appropriate given your unique needs, the economy and the capital markets? Do you have a portion of your assets in protected or guaranteed programs with potential for appreciation or guaranteed future cash flow?

  • Your will. If you don't have a will, you should. And if you have a will, you should review it to see if it needs to be updated.

  • Advance directives. While you're at it, review things like your living will and power of attorney, to make sure they also are up-to-date. READ MORE...


  • VOL. 4, ISSUE 4   •   DECEMBER, 2008
    The holidays are a wonderful time for popping the question, or for tucking something sparkly under the tree for your sweetheart. Just don't forget to extend your insurance coverage to any valuable jewelry on your gift list. And remember to protect the item -- and your investment -- against theft and damage from the time you buy it, not from the time it is opened.

    But what if the jewelry is a surprise? Say, for example, you are planning to give your girlfriend an engagement ring on Christmas Eve, or to welcome the new year. You know you need coverage, but you don't want to chance her seeing the paperwork on insuring a ring she doesn't know you have. Give us a call, and we can work with your insurer to provide coverage now and send the paperwork later. That way, you will be able to keep your secret -- and your peace of mind.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 4, ISSUE 3   •   NOVEMBER, 2008
    It's Time to Count Our Blessings
    This is the time of year when we pause to give thanks for all the good in our lives. Sometimes we focus too much on the negative, on dark economic news, on uncertainty abroad and on issues in our personal lives. But as Thanksgiving approaches, we should take the time to count our blessings. We at The Bensman Group are grateful for you, our clients and friends, and for the opportunity to serve you. We want to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, and we hope you enjoy the holiday with the people you love.

    © 2008 Bensman Risk Management, Inc.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 4, ISSUE 2   •   OCTOBER, 2008
    Observe Fire Safety Month
    October is Fire Safety Month, which makes it a good time to take some basic steps to protect your home and your family:
  • Install smoke detectors, test them once a month and replace the batteries every year. Make sure the smoke detectors you choose have been approved by Underwriters Laboratory or some other national agency.
  • If a member of your household is hearing-impaired, choose a smoke detector that uses lights to indicate a fire.
  • Know how to get out of your house in case of fire, and practice your plan, especially with children.
  • Have your furnace and fireplace checked before the winter begins in earnest.
  • Check electrical cords for damage, and don't overload outlets.
  • Get rid of piles of paper and other trash that could feed a fire. READ MORE...


  • VOL. 4, ISSUE 1   •   SEPTEMBER, 2008
    All good things must come to an end, and summer is no different. If you are like many of our clients, you may be getting ready to put your convertible, sportscar, boat or RV into storage for the winter.

    Putting your summer vehicles in storage not only can protect them from the wear and tear of winter weather. It also may save you money, because you can take them off your insurance until the spring.

    If you are putting your toys away for the winter, please give our office a call to discuss whether we can help you save on your insurance costs. And if you do take your car or other vehicle off your policy for the winter, be sure to give us a call when you are ready to take it out of storage and get back on the road.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 3, ISSUE 12   •   AUGUST, 2008
    There's Still Time to Check Your Air Conditioner
    During the dog days of August, the weather can get hot, sultry and decidedly uncomfortable. That makes this month a good time to check your central air conditioning, if you have not already done so.

    Even if your air conditioning seems to be working, it is a good idea to have a professional inspection so that any potential problems can be caught before they become expensive. In addition, a professional can perform routine maintenance and alert you to possible problems like landscaping interfering with the performance of your unit.

    If your air conditioning is running at its most efficient, you can save money on your electric bill, add to the lifespan of your A/C and stay cooler during the dog days.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 3, ISSUE 11   •   JULY, 2008
    Don't Overlook Disability Coverage
    Along with summer's warm weather and outside activities may come a certain amount of bumps and bruises. Most are minor, easily fixed with a Band-Aid or an ice pack. But what if a summer mishap -- or an accident or illness at any time of year -- keeps you from going to work? How long could you continue to pay your bills if you did not have a paycheck coming in?

    Disability insurance can provide you with income if you are sick or hurt and cannot work. There are two main kinds of disability insurance: short-term disability, which begins to pay you sooner but does not pay for as long a time period, and long-term disability, which takes longer to begin payments but continues the payment schedule for a longer period. Disability insurance usually is priced according to your age, gender, job and the amount of income you want to replace.

    Your employer probably provides workers compensation insurance, but that only covers job-related injuries or illnesses. Your employer also may offer disability coverage. If this is the case, you should take a hard look at the amount of coverage you receive under your employer plan, and compare that with the amount of money you would need coming in if your income were cut off. Especially if you are in a higher income bracket, it is very likely that your employer's plan does not provide the income replacement you would need.

    At The Bensman Group, we are always happy to help you assess your need for disability insurance, as well as for any other insurance coverage. Just give us a call at 847-572-0800, or email me at jfeiger@bensman.com.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 3, ISSUE 10   •   JUNE, 2008
    Understanding Flood Coverage
    We have all seen the pictures of the terrible flooding in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, Iowa, and closer to home along the Fox and Des Plaines rivers. Our sympathy goes out to these people, and we hope they have insurance to cover at least some of their material losses. And we wonder if we would have coverage if a flood happened to us.

    If you don't live near a body of water, you probably don't have to worry about the kind of flooding you are seeing on TV. This flooding occurs when surface water from an external source (such as the Cedar River, Fox River, Des Plaines River, etc.) enters homes and businesses, causing damage. This is how insurers define a flood, and it is almost always an excluded cause of loss on your homeowner's insurance policy. To get coverage for this type of loss, you need to buy a separate flood insurance policy, and there is a 30-day waiting period from the time of application until coverage begins. This is done to prevent a person from securing coverage 10 minutes before the big storm hits. There are other unique nuances to a flood policy. Please contact one of your Bensman Risk Management experts for more information.

    If the same heavy rains that cause rivers to come out of their banks and into some houses overwhelm sewer systems and cause the water to back up into your basement, this is not a flood to your insurer -- even if it feels like one to you. This is a sewer back-up claim, and all of the companies represented by The Bensman Group include this as a covered cause of loss, although the amount of coverage varies from company to company.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 3, ISSUE 9   •   MAY, 2008
    Some Springtime Reminders
    Spring is finally in the air, and it's time for a couple of reminders.

    First, if you have had your convertible or sports car in storage -- and off your regular auto insurance -- during the winter, don't forget to let us know before you take it out, so that we can resume your coverage.

    And if you have a child who has been away at school without a car and is home for the summer and back behind the wheel of a family car, please let us know about that, too.

    Please give us a call at 847-572-0800 with questions about this or any other aspect of your insurance coverage. And be sure to get out and enjoy the warm weather!
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 3, ISSUE 8   •   APRIL, 2008
    Be Careful When Hiring Household Help
    The people you hire to work in and around your home -- as housekeepers, gardeners, child care workers, personal trainers, etc. -- can help make life much easier. But they also can pose a significant threat to your property and even to your personal safety, because they often have fairly unrestricted and unsupervised access to your home and property. Household staff members have stolen their employer's identity, their jewelry and, on rare occasion, their life.

    So how do you protect yourself against this kind of danger? You can work through an agency that conducts background checks on potential employees and places them with clients. If you choose to go this route, make sure that the agency you are using is reliable. Ask for details on how long it has been in business and how many employees it has placed, and check references. Ask if the agency has insurance coverage in case the employees it places steal or damage anything in your home.

    You also may want to check with friends to see if they can recommend someone. But whether you start with a recommendation or start from scratch, if you decide to go through the hiring process on your own, make sure you:

  • In a preliminary phone interview, ask candidates whether they can provide references and proof of citizenship. Be wary of people who seem uncomfortable doing so. And be sure to check all references.

  • Meet for interviews in a public place, rather than in your home. You might even want to bring along a trusted friend, for support and another opinion.

  • Plan your interview ahead of time, writing out questions about the applicant's work history, experience, how the applicant has dealt with challenging situations. Be ready with a detailed description of the job you want done. Answer the applicant's questions honestly, but don't provide personal information.

  • Require that the applicant give you a color copy of a photo ID, valid driver's license and passport. Make sure the picture on these documents matches the person you are talking to and that the signature matches the person's signature.

  • Consider hiring a firm to conduct a background investigation of the applicant.

  • Finally, trust your instincts. If something about the applicant makes you uncomfortable, even if you can't quite put your finger on it, it's probably best to try someone else. READ MORE...


  • VOL. 3, ISSUE 7   •   MARCH, 2008
    Keeping an Eye on Your Kids
    We all want to believe that our children tell us the truth all the time. Still, most of us understand that something short of full disclosure is the norm for most adolescents, and we hope that what we don't know about our children's lives won't hurt us -- or them.

    It can hurt us, though, if our young drivers amass tickets that we don't know about. Suppose your teenage driver gets two speeding tickers and just pays the fines, hoping Mom and Dad don't find out. But the state of Illinois knows, and those tickets will show up as convictions on your child's motor vehicle report. That could end up costing you big bucks.

    Your insurer has the ability to obtain motor vehicle reports on you and the other drivers in your household, and sometimes does so on a "random sampling" basis. If you have an umbrella insurance policy with a high limit, such as $10 million or more, the insurer will check motor vehicle reports annually. And if your child's tickets are for significant offenses, such as driving 25 miles per hour over the limit, your insurer probably will act to cancel your auto and umbrella insurance.

    So talk to your kids about the importance of being honest about any tickets they get, and work with them to help them maintain a clean driving record.

    If you are not sure you can trust your kids to tell you the truth, the state of Illinois allows you to check up on them. The Secretary of State's Web site has a link called "Parental Access to Teen Driving Records." If you are the parent or guardian of a driver under age 18, you can click on this link to take a look at the child's driving record. The state offers this service as a way of helping parents to monitor and control their teen's driving until they are ready to be fully responsible themselves.

    Finally, remember that The Bensman Group is here to help. We know that young drivers sometimes make mistakes and, although we can't promise miracles and we certainly don't want to condone bad driving, we can offer a network of contacts, including well-respected attorneys, who may be able to provide assistance in these matters. Telling us about a major driving violation -- your child's or your own -- is not the same as telling the insurance company. We want to work with you to solve all your insurance issues.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 3, ISSUE 6   •   FEBRUARY, 2008
    Tax Loss Harvesting
    While most investors fear stock market volatility, there are ways to make it work to your advantage. One of the best ways is to "harvest" tax losses -- to sell holdings at a loss to establish a tax loss, then buy back a similar, but not substantially identical holding. Through tax-loss harvesting, investors can establish tax losses, yet maintain their asset allocation (such as selling Coca-Cola at a loss and buying Pepsi). If executed properly, tax-loss harvesting can increase your after-tax portfolio returns.

    Once you take a tax loss, however, you cannot purchase "substantially identical" stock or securities within 30 days before or after the sale. If you do, the tax loss will be disallowed because of the "wash sale" rules, and the disallowed loss will be added to the cost of the new stock or securities. Given the complexity of the wash sale rules, it is good practice to contact your tax advisor before harvesting tax losses.

    At the Bensman Group, we seek opportunities to take advantage of stock market volatility to establish tax losses for our clients and increase their after-tax returns. Most recently, we harvested tax losses for several clients during the week of January 21-25 to take advantage of the stock market's sharp decline, whereas some firms only harvest tax losses at year-end. If we can assist you in your portfolio management or tax-loss harvesting, please contact our head of Asset Management, Larry Stein, at 847-572-0825.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 3, ISSUE 5   •   JANUARY, 2008
    The Season for Frozen Pipes
    Frozen water pipes can be messy, inconvenient -- and expensive. As the low temperatures settle in, give a little extra attention to your pipes. The American Red Cross offers the following suggestions for preventing or dealing with frozen pipes:
  • Open the doors to your kitchen and bathroom cabinets to let warmer air circulate around the plumbing. (Be sure to move dangerous cleaners and chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.)
  • When it is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from faucets served by exposed pipes. This can help keep pipes from freezing because the water trickling through is above freezing.
  • Don't turn your thermostat down at night during extremely cold weather. If you are going away, don't turn your thermostat down below 55 degrees.
  • If during very cold weather you turn on the faucet and get only a trickle of water, you may have a frozen pipe. Find the area where the pipe is frozen. Try pipes running against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation. Keep the faucet open, so that water can flow through as you treat the pipe.
  • Use an electric heating pad, a hair dryer or a portable space heater to heat the frozen section of pipe. You also can wrap the pipe with towels soaked in hot water. Don't use a blowtorch; in addition to the risk of fire, a blowtorch can make the water inside the pipe boil, which could cause the pipe to explode.
  • If you cannot find the frozen pipe, or cannot thaw it, call a licensed plumber. READ MORE...


  • VOL. 3, ISSUE 4   •   DECEMBER, 2007
    As we approach year-end, it's always a good idea to review your entire tax situation with your tax advisor and to review your capital gains tax situation with your investment advisor. If you have investments that have decreased in value, consider selling them to offset any capital gains that you may have. Short-term capital gains are taxed at the taxpayer's highest tax rate, while long-term gains are taxed at the long-term capital gains rate, which is currently 15 percent. Paying less in taxes is usually beneficial, but be careful not to let the "tax tail wag the investment dog." In other words, make sure any decisions made for tax purposes do not negatively impact your investments. READ MORE...


    VOL. 3, ISSUE 3   •   NOVEMBER, 2007
    Happy Thanksgiving From Our Family to Yours
    All of us at The Bensman Group would like to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving. We hope you are able to enjoy the holiday with your family and friends, and that you take a moment to reflect on all the good things in your life. We also hope that, whatever your political views, you remember the men and women who have volunteered for our Armed Forces, and that you appreciate their sacrifice. We at Bensman Risk Management are grateful for you, for your trust and your friendship, and for the opportunity to serve you. READ MORE...


    VOL. 3, ISSUE 2   •   OCTOBER, 2007
    Get Ready for Winter
    The first cold snap has come and gone, but you know that winter is just around the corner. This is the time to get your house ready for the long cold season ahead. You mulch your plants, winterize your car, bring the boots and mittens up from the box in the basement. But don't forget to make sure that your furnace and fireplace are ready for winter as well. Schedule an appointment with a heating specialist to clean your furnace and make sure it is in good working order. Have your fireplace and chimney cleaned and checked. And make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order. If your detectors use batteries, this is a good time to change them. Then you can rest warm and easy, knowing that you have taken the steps necessary to keep your home and family safe. READ MORE...


    VOL. 3, ISSUE 1   •   SEPTEMBER, 2007
    Save on Insurance When You Store Your Car
    Autumn has its rituals. Going back to school, raking leaves, watching the Bears and maybe even the Cubs in the post-season. And for many people, autumn is also the time to put the convertible or sports car away for the winter.

    If you store your "summer car" over the winter, you can save significantly on your insurance by changing your coverage to comprehensive-only while the car is in storage -- usually from October through March. With comprehensive-only, you have coverage only for damage that is not the result of hitting another vehicle or stationary object. You would have coverage, for example, if your car was stolen, if your garage burned down or if a tree fell on your garage. You don't have other coverage, including liability. But you don't need it, since you are not driving the car.

    We will contact you in March to see when you want to take the car out of storage and resume your regular coverage. However, if you are tempted to take the car out for a spin on some exceptionally warm February day, you must call and let us adjust your policy so that you have full coverage before you pull out of the driveway. You need to talk to someone in person -- leaving an after-hours voicemail or sending an email will not bind coverage.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 2, ISSUE 12   •   AUGUST, 2007
    Protecting the Tailgate
    If you have an SUV or a minivan, you probably have opened the back, only to have the tailgate go up higher than you expected and hit something, like the garage door. The first time that happened, you may have ended up with a nasty scratch or even a gouge. But no matter how carefully you open the tailgate, you can still get scratches from movement caused by weight shift, such as when you take heavy things out of the van.

    You could build a new garage, of course. But there is a much less expensive solution. Find an old towel or blanket, and keep it handy to put on the tailgate to cushion it when it goes up. You can leave your towel or blanket in the garage, or you can even put it in the back of the van -- as long as you can throw it over the tailgate in time to preserve your paint job.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 2, ISSUE 10   •   JUNE, 2007
    Premium Credit for Your Children!
    Now that summer is officially here, we'd like to remind you to call us if your college-age children are back home for the summer. Many of our companies offer an "away at school" premium credit that applies only while your child is away at school without a vehicle. READ MORE...


    VOL. 2, ISSUE 9   •   MAY, 2007
    Calling All Vehicles!

    Don't be caught in an accident without insurance.

    Every so often a client may overlook notifying us of a recreational vehicle purchase like a motorcycle, ATV, jet ski, boat, etc. Just because you are covered on one or more vehicles you are NOT automatically covered for all vehicles. Even if your recreational vehicle is covered with a different carrier you need to notify us of your purchase in order to ensure your umbrella policy covers that vehicle.

    Please contact us immediately when you purchase any motorized vehicle so you are properly covered.

    READ MORE...


    VOL. 2, ISSUE 8   •   APRIL, 2007
    College Students Home for the Summer?
    Many of our clients have children away at college without a vehicle. Insurance companies provide a discounted premium when students are away from home (100+ miles ) without a vehicle. With the end of college semesters fast approaching, we need to know if these drivers will be back at home for the summer and adjust the auto insurance accordingly. READ MORE...


    VOL. 2, ISSUE 7   •   MARCH, 2007
    Spring is finally here and the weather is beginning to warm up. Don't forget to contact our office prior to driving your automobile that has been in storage over the cold winter months. Remember storage coverage (comprehensive coverage) only covers the vehicle for theft, fire and vandalism. You will need to place full coverage back on your vehicle, so that you are properly covered in the event of an accident. READ MORE...


    VOL. 2, ISSUE 6   •   FEBRUARY, 2007
    Protect Your Home From Frozen Pipes
    The Bensman Group this winter has handled several claims related to frozen pipes that burst and caused water damage. Most of these claims could have been minimized if homeowners had learned earlier of the leak.

    One way to ensure early notification is to add wireless water/moisture sensors to an existing central-station alarm system. These sensors are placed in areas where leaks are likely to occur, such as behind a refrigerator or dishwasher, under a sink or near a sump pump. When a sensor detects moisture, it automatically sends a signal to the alarm company, which then notifies the homeowner. These sensors cost about $300 apiece, including installation, plus about $5 per month for a monitoring fee.

    Another alternative is a water sensor that sends a wireless signal to an alarm dialer when water is detected. The dialer automatically will call multiple phone numbers to report a leak. An Internet search shows this type of system can be purchased for about $125.00. Water-detection devices that sound an alarm only in your home are available for as little as $12.

    Even if you install a water-detection system in your home, the best approach to avoiding water damage from frozen pipes is to take simple precautions, such as always keeping the heat on, with a minimum temperature of 55 degrees; insulating water pipes, meters and faucets in unheated areas; turning off outside faucets and disconnecting hoses; opening cabinets along outside walls so warm air circulates around pipes; and filling any holes or cracks in walls, windows or doors that are close to pipes. For a complete list of precautions, contact your plumber or your city's water department.

    READ MORE...


    VOL. 2, ISSUE 5   •   JANUARY, 2007
    With the holiday season behind us and Valentine's Day just around the corner, we'd like to remind you to contact us if you've made any recent jewelry purchases. We want to make sure your insurance policy is up-to-date and reflects your coverage intentions.

    Please fax or email a copy of the receipt and/or appraisal and we'll make sure to add the item or items to your policy.

    If you've already purchased an item, but want to surprise that "special someone" in your life, we won't spoil the surprise. We can work with your insurance company to provide the coverage you need right now, without adding the item to your policy until after you present your gift. Please call us for details and we'll be happy to assist you.

    READ MORE...


    VOL. 2, ISSUE 4   •   DECEMBER, 2006
    Jewelry Gift Giving
    Planning on giving some jewelry to that "special someone" in your life this holiday season?

    If so, make sure to get it insured before you give it as a gift! Most home insurance policies limit jewelry losses to no more than $2,500 or $5,000 (after you pay your deductible), unless you purchase additional coverage. Rates vary among companies, but you can expect the cost to be around $14 for every $1,000 of coverage you need.

    If you are concerned that the insurance paperwork will ruin your surprise, please call us so we can arrange for the paperwork to arrive after you present your gift. We will be glad to assist.

    Happy Holidays!
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 1, ISSUE 7   •   NOVEMBER, 2006
    Vacation Home Coverage in the Off Season
    Do you have a vacation home that will be closed for the winter? Have you taken steps to minimize the damage that can be caused by a burst water pipe? Many home insurance contracts include a provision that denies coverage for a burst pipe if it is caused by a "failure to maintain adequate heat".

    Here are a few things to keep in mind:
    • If the heat will be turned off, make sure the water is turned off as well, and that all pipes are drained of water.
    • Consider adding a moisture detection system to your centrally monitored burglar & fire alarm. This will alert your alarm company of any water intrusions that would otherwise go unnoticed.
    • Consider adding an automatic shut-off valve at the water main in conjunction with moisture detection monitors. Water Cop (www.watercop.com) is endorsed by some insurance companies and even offers discounted installation to clients of the endorsing companies.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 1, ISSUE 6   •   OCTOBER, 2006
    Winter Storage
    When placing a car in storage, you may wish to consider the following tips:
    1. Make sure the gas tank is full to reduce the likelihood of condensation entering the gas tank. Add "Sta-Bil", "Dry Gas" or a similar product to the fuel system and drive the car for a few miles to ensure the product is mixed thoroughly with the gasoline.

    2. Change the antifreeze and run the car for a few minutes to ensure coolant has circulated throughout the system.

    3. Change the oil. Dirty oil contains acids and water that can cause premature bearing failure and rust the engine.

    4. To inhibit rust in the engine area, spray WD-40 to coat all exposed metal surfaces.

    5. Buy some desiccant sacks from a storage supply house. Place a few of them on the floor of the car to keep moisture and humidity from damaging the interior.

    6. Drive the car for at least 30 minutes before storing for the winter. This will evaporate the moisture in the engine and exhaust system.

    7. Wash and wax the entire car. Clean the interior as well. Then, making sure the car is thoroughly dry, cover the car with a cloth car cover to prevent dust from settling onto the paint.

    READ MORE...


    VOL. 2, ISSUE 1   •   SEPTEMBER, 2006
    Is Your P/C Coverage Current?
    Have you purchased any new items such as art, jewelry or a boat since you bought your property/casualty insurance policy? Have you added any features to your house that may have increased your potential liability? READ MORE...


    VOL. 2, ISSUE 10   •   JUNE, 2007
    Premium Credit for Your Children!
    Now that summer is officially here, we'd like to remind you to call us if your college-age children are back home for the summer. Many of our companies offer an "away at school" premium credit that applies only while your child is away at school without a vehicle. READ MORE...


    VOL. 2, ISSUE 9   •   MAY, 2007
    Calling All Vehicles!

    Don't be caught in an accident without insurance.

    Every so often a client may overlook notifying us of a recreational vehicle purchase like a motorcycle, ATV, jet ski, boat, etc. Just because you are covered on one or more vehicles you are NOT automatically covered for all vehicles. Even if your recreational vehicle is covered with a different carrier you need to notify us of your purchase in order to ensure your umbrella policy covers that vehicle.

    Please contact us immediately when you purchase any motorized vehicle so you are properly covered.

    READ MORE...


    VOL. 1, ISSUE 10   •   MAY, 2006
    Are you planning to remodel or renovate your home? The disruptions, dirt, and delays associated with home renovations are stressful enough by themselves. A homeowner's claim on an unreported renovation will only add to the stress. Please call our office before the project begins so the insurance implications can be discussed and your coverage adjusted accordingly. READ MORE...


    VOL. 1, ISSUE 9   •   APRIL, 2006
    Taking Your Car Out of Storage
    Spring is finally here and the weather is beginning to warm up. Don't forget to contact our office prior to driving your automobile that has been in storage over the cold winter months. Remember storage coverage (comprehensive coverage) only covers the vehicle for theft, fire and vandalism. You will need to place full coverage back on your vehicle, so that you are properly covered in the event of an accident. READ MORE...


    VOL. 2, ISSUE 5   •   JANUARY, 2007
    With the holiday season behind us and Valentine's Day just around the corner, we'd like to remind you to contact us if you've made any recent jewelry purchases. We want to make sure your insurance policy is up-to-date and reflects your coverage intentions.

    Please fax or email a copy of the receipt and/or appraisal and we'll make sure to add the item or items to your policy.

    If you've already purchased an item, but want to surprise that "special someone" in your life, we won't spoil the surprise. We can work with your insurance company to provide the coverage you need right now, without adding the item to your policy until after you present your gift. Please call us for details and we'll be happy to assist you.

    READ MORE...


    VOL. 1, ISSUE 7   •   DECEMBER, 2005
    The Effects of an Active Hurricane Season
    The financial impact from this past hurricane season continues to be felt across the country. As we head into 2006, state insurance commissioners and the insurance industry have begun to take steps to be more financially prepared for what is predicted to be another active hurricane season. According to a BestWire (a subsidiary of A.M. Best) 12/16/05 article titled "Florida Citizen's Board Votes to Raise Homeowner's Rates", some examples include:

    • Many insurance companies have announced their intent to either withdraw from Florida or scale back the number of homes they insure in Florida. Among the companies taking action are Nationwide, Allstate, and Safeco.

    • Citizen's Property Insurance Corporation (Citizen's), the state-run insurer of last resort, is now the second-largest home insurer in Florida, and is facing an estimated premium deficit of $1.1 billion. As a result of this premium deficit, the board of governors of Citizen's has voted to raise rates an average of 44% for coastal Florida counties and an average of 21% for interior Florida counties. Note that the 44% rate increase for coastal counties is an overall average - some counties will see increases higher than 44% and some lower. For example, Escambia County is facing a 127% rate increase next year.

    • Citizen's is also pushing the Florida legislature to make homes valued at $1,000,000 or higher ineligible for wind coverage. With the private insurance market already scaling back its Florida exposure, this will make it more difficult and expensive to obtain wind (hurricane) insurance on high-valued homes.
    All of this points to a challenging and expensive insurance marketplace in Florida for 2006. More information on its impact to our clients will be available in January and February, but for now we recommend a thorough review of insurance availability and pricing before making an offer on that dream home in Florida.

    READ MORE...


    VOL. 1, ISSUE 7   •   NOVEMBER, 2006
    Vacation Home Coverage in the Off Season
    Do you have a vacation home that will be closed for the winter? Have you taken steps to minimize the damage that can be caused by a burst water pipe? Many home insurance contracts include a provision that denies coverage for a burst pipe if it is caused by a "failure to maintain adequate heat".

    Here are a few things to keep in mind:
    • If the heat will be turned off, make sure the water is turned off as well, and that all pipes are drained of water.
    • Consider adding a moisture detection system to your centrally monitored burglar & fire alarm. This will alert your alarm company of any water intrusions that would otherwise go unnoticed.
    • Consider adding an automatic shut-off valve at the water main in conjunction with moisture detection monitors. Water Cop (www.watercop.com) is endorsed by some insurance companies and even offers discounted installation to clients of the endorsing companies.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 1, ISSUE 5   •   OCTOBER, 2005
    Time To Store Your Summer Car?
    Is it time to put the "summer" car in the garage for the winter? If so, we may be able to reduce your auto insurance costs. If your car will not be driven for at least 90 consecutive days, we can revise your auto insurance to reflect its storage status. Coverage will be reduced to "comp only", which provides protection for losses due to theft, fire, or vandalism. READ MORE...


    VOL. 1, ISSUE 4   •   SEPTEMBER, 2005
    Insurance Coverage For Your Children Away at College
    Now that we are into September, many of our clients have children away at college and have asked us, "My son did not bring a car to school, but his roommate did. What happens if my son borrows the roommate's car and gets in an accident?" Or the question might be the other way around, "My daughter has a car with her at school. What happens if her roommate borrows the car and gets in an accident?"

    The answer is simple. Auto insurance follows the vehicle. If you loan your vehicle to someone else and that person gets in an accident, your insurance company pays the claim.

    If you have any questions or special considerations regarding insurance matters for your child away at college, please don't hesitate to call or email us.
    READ MORE...


    VOL. 1, ISSUE 3   •   AUGUST, 2005
    Protect Yourself Against Water Damage
    Water damage caused by aging, faulty, or defective plumbing and appliances costs homeowners billions of dollars each year. Incidents often happen when no one is home, and if not quickly detected, they can lead to catastrophic losses. There are ways to reduce the impact of water damage to your home. One of the most effective methods is the installation of an automatic water shut-off valve. When integrated into your home security system, the central alarm station monitoring company would activate. To learn more about water detection devices, contact our office or your alarm company about specific water detection products. READ MORE...


    VOL. 2, ISSUE 10   •   JUNE, 2007
    Premium Credit for Your Children!
    Now that summer is officially here, we'd like to remind you to call us if your college-age children are back home for the summer. Many of our companies offer an "away at school" premium credit that applies only while your child is away at school without a vehicle. READ MORE...


    VOL. 1, ISSUE 1   •   JUNE, 2005
    It's Ragtop Weather!
    Spring has sprung, and your thoughts may be turning to tooling around town with the top down. If you have had your convertible or sports car in storage and are getting it out now that the warmer weather has arrived, don’t forget about insurance. Kindly let us know when you take your car out of storage, so we can make sure your coverage is in place and up to date. READ MORE...


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