IMPORTANT Health Insurance Announcement!

Open Enrollment is here!

Time for your annual review your individual health insurance.

Please let family and friends know.

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It could be very costly for you to miss the open enrollment window! Everyone must review their current coverages with! We can handle that for you.

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Wise Advice for First-Time Renters

School is finally over. It is time to go out and look for your own new apartment. After an exhaustive search and a barrage of confusing paperwork, you are finally ready to move in to your first apartment. You have managed to furnish new home with everyday essentials and are eager to begin living in your own place for the very first time. But let’s slow up for a minute! There are other things you should be considering as you are moving into your new apartment. It is important that you consider buying renters insurance before getting too comfortable in your new place.

For little cost, renters insurance can help protect you from fire, smoke, vandalism, and theft-related losses. Imagine that you had to completely replace all of your belongings due to a fire, would you be able to afford that? There are two different ways you can insure your belongings on a renters insurance policy: actual cash value and replacement cost. Although replacement cost policies are a bit more expensive than actual cash policies, they help reimburse you for the full cost of replacing your belongings. An example of the differences would be: if you purchased a flat screen TV, and it was stolen while you are on vacation. Actual cash value replacement would give you money to replace the belonging by assigning a marketplace value to your TV and then subtract depreciation (for it is no longer new). If you had replacement cost the insurance company would replace your TV with one of like kind and quality to what you had before.

Your renters’ insurance policy also covers liability protection in the case that you are sued for bodily injury or property damage. Most first-time renters are not aware that if you invite someone in to your home and they get hurt or if you cause bodily injury or property damage to someone else, you could be liable to pay for their medical and/or pain and suffering expenses. For example – picture you had a party at your home on a Saturday night, which included alcohol. When your guests leave your home, they are intoxicated and get into a serious automobile accident. You could easily be sued for allowing your guests to leave your home intoxicated. This lawsuit could simply cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), only 31% of renters have renters insurance. This low percentage is likely caused by the common misconception that landlord’s insurance covers damage to personal possessions. The truth is, your landlord’s policy probably covers only damage to the building and provides you no coverage your belongings or for liability coverage if you are sued. Renters insurance is also a good idea if you’re a college student living away from home. You should check to be sure that your belongings would be covered by your parents’ homeowner’s policy. Most homeowners policies have a small amount coverage for belongings off premise of your home. This amount might not be nearly enough coverage to place your belongings. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you look into renters insurance:

  • Make sure to keep a record of your belongings that may need to be replaced, such as a video or photo inventory. Make sure to store this in a safe place separate from your apartment.
  • If you are living with a nonrelative, your roommate may not be covered by your policy and have to get a policy of their own.
  • Be sure to also insure your jewelry or collectibles on your renters policy.
  • If you carry auto insurance, purchasing renters insurance could provide you with a discount depending on the insurance company you go with.

Did you know that you can be reimbursed under some renters policies if you become a victim of identity theft? Or that your policy rate may be discounted if your rental property has a burglar alarm? We at Brownell insurance center are a great resource for coverage options and potential discounts under your renters’ policy. Once you find a policy that fits your needs, you’ll finally be ready to begin living in your new apartment — with a lot more peace of mind. Best of luck!

Information for this blog provided by Safeco Insurance.




Identity Theft – What You Need to Know – What to Do to Stay Safe

Christmas about two years ago, I remember going up to purchase some Christmas presents only to find that my bank card was declined. I was really confused for I knew that there was plenty of money to cover the charges that I had made. After trying my bank card several times, I had to use a different method to pay for my purchases. Being completely frustrated, I called my bank to see what the problem was. I was told that my account was in the negative. There was absolutely no way that this was possible I told the teller. She listened to me sympathetically and said that there was a transaction for $1986.20 done yesterday. When she gave me the information regarding this transaction, it was for a business located in London, England. I was fortunate that I could prove that I was not in England anytime close to the time this transaction supposedly happened. My bank did put the money back into my account but it did take several days. This really could have ruined my Christmas but fortunately I had other funds that I could use.

Most of us have faith that our identities are safe but identity theft turned into a common serious crime. Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission. In 2013, a movie was made called “Identity Theft” with Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy. In this “comedy,” Jason Bateman’s character, Sandy had his identity stolen. His identity theft had disrupted his finances, his work, and his family life to such a point that he had to abandon everything to find the woman that had stolen his identity and was charging exorbitant amounts to his credit cards. In this case it was Hollywood that was imitating life.

There are plenty of red flags of identity theft. Some examples are:

  • Mistakes on your bank, credit card, or other account statements such as withdrawals or purchases that you know you have not made.
  • Mistakes on the explanation of your medical benefits from your health plan that do not coincide with when you were either in the hospital or at your doctors.
  • Your regular bills and account statements don’t arrive on time or look like they have been tampered with.
  • You receive bills or collection notices for products or services that you have never received or asked for.
  • You start receiving calls from debt collectors about debts that certainly don’t belong to you.
  • You receive a notice from the IRS that someone has used your Social Security number to either secure a job, a loan, or an apartment.
  • You receive mail, emails, or calls about accounts or jobs in your minor child’s name.
  • When you check into your credit reports you find that there are unwarranted collection notices on your credit report.
  • You go into businesses and they turn down your credit cards or refuse to accept your checks.
  • You are turned down unexpectedly for a loan or a job.

How to protect your information from being stolen:

  1. Read your credit reports often. You have the right to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies. You can order your credit reports from all 3 credit reporting companies four times a year at or call 1– 877 – 322 – 8228.
  2. Read your bank, credit card, account statements, an explanation of any benefits from your health plan. If this statement has inaccurate information or doesn’t come in on time contact your supplier.
  3. Shred all documents that show any personal financial or medical information before you throw them away.
  4. Don’t respond to any text phone or email that requests personal information from you. Be sure to delete the messages, for legitimate companies do not ask for information in this manner.
  5. Create passwords that mix letters numbers and special characters. You should never use the same password for more than one account.
  6. If you do your banking or shopping online, be sure to use websites that protect your financial information with encryption. An encrypted site uses “https” at the beginning of their website address.
  7. If you use a public wireless network, don’t send information to any website that isn’t fully encrypted.
  8. Use antivirus and anti-spyware software and a firewall on all your computers.
  9. Set your computer’s operating system, web browser, and security system to update automatically.

If your identity is stolen you should:

  1. Flag your credit report –Be sure to call one of the nationwide credit reporting companies and ask for a fraud alert on your credit report. This company must contact the other two credit reporting companies to put fraud reports on your files. An initial fraud report is good for 90 days. The nationwide credit reporting companies are:
    • Equifax 1– 800 – 525 – 6285
    • Experian 1 – 888 – 397 – 3742
    • TransUnion 1 – 800 – 680 – 7289
  2. Order your credit reports – Each company’s credit report about you is slightly different so be sure to order a report from each company. Be sure to read your reports carefully and verify all the information is correct. If you find the report to be inaccurate or show signs of fraud, be sure to contact the credit reporting company immediately.
  3. Create an identity theft report – An identity theft report can help you get fraudulent information removed from your credit report, stop a company from collecting debts caused by identity theft, and get information about accounts a theft opened in your name. To create an identity theft report you should file a complaint with the FTC at or call 1 – 877 – 438 – 4338. Your completed complaint is called an FTC Affidavit. You will need to take your FTC affidavit to your local police, or to the police where the theft occurred, and file a police report. Be sure to obtain a copy of the police report. You will need both of documents to comprise an Identity Theft Report.

I hope you found this information helpful. It is very important that we all work together to ensure that our identities remain protected. Most of the information for this blog was provided by the Federal Trade Commission. They can be contacted at or by telephone at 1 – 877 – ID – THEFT (438 – 4338). As a further note, be sure to call your insurance agent for most homeowners insurance policies can add identity theft as a rider to your existing policy.

Night Driving Dangers

A little extra caution can go a long way while driving at night

Most of us think that we drive just as well at night as we do during the day, but consider this: Even though nighttime driving accounts for just 23% of vehicle miles traveled, more than 50% of fatalities for vehicle occupants 16 and older occur between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., according to the National Safety Commission (NSC).

What’s dangerous about night driving?

  1. Decreased vision. We won’t go into all the biological details, but different parts of the eye (such as iris, pupil and retina) work differently at night. Your peripheral vision is actually slightly improved, but it’s more difficult to focus on objects ahead of you. And traveling between well-lit areas and darker roads creates issues as well.
  2. Driving too fast for your headlights. Depending on vehicle speed and headlight setting, many people “over-drive” their headlights. That means, by the time they see something on the road, it’s too late to stop in time to avoid it.
  3. Impaired judgment. Whether due to drowsiness or the use of alcohol or drugs, it appears that drivers at night often don’t use good judgment. According to the NSC, 66% of fatalities at night involve vehicle occupants who weren’t wearing seat belts.

Sometimes, there’s no way get out of driving at night. Here are some tested tips to help you make it a safer trip for you and your family.

  1. Make sure your vehicle’s lights are in good working condition. And not just headlights, but turn signals, taillights, etc.
  2. Avoid speeding. Leave a bigger cushion between you and other cars than you would during daylight hours. Leave yourself more time for the trip and greater distance from the car in front of you..
  3. Be more aware of your surroundings. You shouldn’t be using your phone, messing around with the radio or trying to find something on the floor while you’re on the road anyway — and distractions are even more deadly at night.

Of course, if you’re not comfortable driving at night, the best thing is to avoid it altogether if possible. There’s nothing wrong with asking for a ride from a trusted safe driver or waiting for the sun to come out!

Information for this blog from Safeco Insurance.