Rivers Insurance Group Supports the 2015 Powell Turkey Trot

Rivers Insurance Group is proud to sponsor the second annual Powell Turkey Trot, which will take place Thanksgiving morning, November 26, in downtown Powell.

We encourage you to show your spirit of the holidays by kicking off Thanksgiving Day with this fun event for both adults and families!

The 4-mile Powell Turkey Trot will support the following organizations:

Local area food banks

Olentangy Elementary School’s art program

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, through The United Way of Delaware County (link: https://www.liveuniteddelawarecounty.org/take-action/imagination-library)

The events of the day are as follows:

7 a.m.: The festivities begin with a food drive at the Village Green Pavilion. Race participants are asked to donate non-perishable food items to support local food pantries and the Olentangy Elementary School’s art programs.

8 a.m.: The Wobble ‘Till You Gobble Kids Race follows at 8 a.m., and participating children receive a Turkey Trot shirt and other prizes.

8:30 a.m.: The Powell Turkey Trot kicks off in historic downtown Powell, following a beautiful course that gently curves along tree lined streets and neighborhoods. The course is open to walkers and runners of all abilities, and strollers are welcome.

9:30 a.m.: The race concludes in downtown Powell with an awards ceremony. The top three males and females and the winner of each age group will be announced and prizes will be awarded.  Each participant over the age of 21 will receive a large bottle of Sideswipe Brewing’s tasty fall beer offerings.

Registration fees are $45 for adults, and $5 for the kids run, plus a small processing fee.

We hope you’ll join us in this fun and meaningful holiday tradition!

For questions about the race or to register, please visit the Powell Turkey Trot’s website at http://www.powellturkeytrot.com.

10 Ways To Use All That Halloween Candy

Halloween candy

Halloween is just around the corner, and soon kids will begin the exciting tradition of choosing a costume and planning their routes for trick or treat night.

And while parents may question whether they’ve bought enough candy for the parade of trick or treaters, most kids will come home with enough candy to feed a small country.

Whether your kids eventually get burnt out on candy, or you’re worried they actually will eat it all, here are some creative ways you can use all of that leftover Halloween candy:

  1. Freeze for future use. Place a bag of candy in the freezer and save it for special treats, such as toppings for ice cream sundaes, a garnish for a birthday cake, or to satisfy a future sugar craving.
  2. Hide a stash in your car. Use it if you need something small to hold you or your kids over as you run them to back-to-back practices and activities. It can also be used on longer car trips to reward your kids for good behavior, getting along with their siblings in the car, etc.
  3. Save it for the upcoming holidays. Place a bowl of candy corn on the Thanksgiving table, and use other unwrapped candies to decorate a gingerbread house at Christmastime.
  4. Math lessons. Reinforce math facts with Skittles, M&Ms, candy corn, whoppers and other individualized candies. Candy bars that break into sections, such as Hershey’s, Kit Kat, and Mr. Goodbars, do a great job of illustrating fractions.
  5. Donate to a charity. Check with your local churches, soup kitchens, women’s shelters and food pantries. Many will take donations for the clients they serve.
  6. Donate to the military. Our troops overseas love getting care packages, especially those containing sweet treats from home. You can donate directly to organizations such as Operation Gratitude, who accepts candy donations and sends it to those who serve our country.
  7. Participate in a candy exchange. Many dentists participate in a Halloween Candy Buyback program, where they will give kids $1 for every pound of candy they donate. Candy donations are then sent to troops overseas.
  8. Use it for gifts. Drop a few in a gift bag, fill a coffee mug, or attach it to a gift box. Your children could also send a care package to their grandparents, or other family members who don’t have kids that trick or treat.
  9. Fill a piñata. Do you have a child with a fall or winter birthday? Use the candy to fill a piñata that the birthday kids can help destroy and eat.
  10. Bring it to work. If you work in an office, take it to the break room or place a bowl by the coffeepot. It will be gone in no time.

All of us at Rivers Insurance Group wish you and your family a fun, safe and sugar-filled Halloween.

 

 

 

Image source: Creative Commons, Luke Jones

Why Choose In-Network Providers

‘Tis the season for open enrollment – it begins on November 1 and runs through January 31. To help you navigate through the upcoming changes, Rivers Insurance Group is launching a Health Insurance: What’s New for 2016 blog series to keep you updated and answer your questions.

 

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Health Insurance: What’s New for 2016

Why Choose In-Network Providers

When choosing your plan, you’ll see different deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance amounts for providers who are considered “in-network” and for those who are considered “out-of-network.”

What do these terms mean and why are they so important?

In-Network Providers

In-network providers have adjusted their rates and agreed to accept your plan’s contracted rate for services. The contracted rate includes the portion your insurance company will pay, and the portion that you’ll have to pay.

In-network providers can include:

  • Physicians
  • Hospitals
  • Specialists
  • Pharmacies
  • Labs
  • Urgent care facilities
  • Radiology facilities

Out-of Network Providers

Out-of-network providers have not agreed to pay a set rate with your insurance company, so they may charge more for the same service. Your plan will likely require higher out of pocket charges for providers who are not part of their network. You’ll need to pay the difference between the provider’s regular fees and their insurer’s allowed amount. If your plan doesn’t cover out-of-network at all, the full cost is your responsibility.

Tips on Selecting Plans & Providers

When selecting your plan or scheduling health care, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Know your provider options. Your insurance plan works with a wide network of professionals to provide you with the care you need. Before you sign up for a plan, confirm the doctors you use are in-network.
  • Check before making an appointment. If you need to have labs drawn or an x-ray, check your plan for in-network providers before scheduling an appointment. Having these services done with an in-network provider could save you thousands of dollars.
  • Know your plan’s exceptions for emergency. Most plans pay the rate it normally would for seeing out-of-network doctors in emergency situations. The balance is usually yours to cover.
  • Consider Urgent Care. If you have a non-medical emergency that requires prompt but not immediate attention, look for an Urgent Care in your plan’s network. This could save you on out of pocket expenses, and help you avoid long emergency room waits.

Everyone shopping for health care plans should thoroughly review and understand the benefits and limits of each plan. If you have questions about coverage or need help choosing a plan that’s right for your and your family, contact Rivers Insurance Group at (614) 515-5236.

The Top 10 Facts You Need to Know About HSAs

‘Tis the season for open enrollment – it begins on November 1 and runs through January 31. To help you navigate through the upcoming changes, Rivers Insurance Group is launching a Health Insurance: What’s New for 2016 blog series to keep you updated and answer your questions.

 

HSA clouds Health Insurance: What’s New for 2016

The Top 10 Facts You Need to Know About HSAs

As open enrollment approaches, an increasing number of individuals will be offered an HSA option as part of their individual health insurance plan. We’ve compiled some basic information and updates about HSAs for 2016 to help you weigh your options and choose your plan.

What is an HSA?

HSA stands for Health Savings Account. It’s a powerful incentive for taxpayers to save for future health expenses. Here are the Top 10 facts you need to know:

  1. Tax benefits. HSAs offer more tax benefits than the most other plans. (a) Anything you add to the account will grow without tax penalties (b) Contributions made to the account reduce a person’s taxable income (c) Withdrawals from the account used to pay for qualified expenses are tax free.
  1. HDHP Requirement. You must be enrolled in a High Deductible Health Plan in order to qualify for an HSA plan. High Deductible Health Plans have lower premiums and higher deductibles than traditional health plans.
  1. Contributions Limits. For 2016, there has been no change in individual contribution limits for HSAs. It remains at $3,350. But the contributions for families will increase by $100, to a maximum of $6,750.
  1. Individual Out-of-Pocket Expense. There will be a $100 increase in individual caps for out-of-pocket expenses in 2016. The new amount is $6,660.
  1. Family Out-of-Pocket Expense. The maximum out-of-pocket expense for families will increase by $200 in 2016, to $13,100.
  1. Minimum Deductibles. The minimum deductibles for the High Deductible Health Plans will remain unchanged for 2016: $1,300 for individuals; $2,600 for families.
  1. Non-Qualified Withdrawals. There are penalties for non-qualified withdrawals from an HSA plan. Non-qualified withdrawals by individuals under the age of 65 who are not permanently and totally disabled will be taxed as ordinary income, with an additional 20 percent penalty.
  1. Investment Assets. Individuals can invest within their HSA account. In 2014, those HSA accounts that had investment assets attached to them had higher balances at the end of the year – just under half had $10,000. Only a small fraction of accounts without investment assets had a high balance when the year ended.
  1. Know Your Options. Other retirement plans may reduce an individual’s taxable income, but contributions and original pre-tax distributions are still taxed. Roth IRA or 401(k) programs offer no tax advantages for contributions. Distributions and account growth are not taxed if the holding period requirements are met. Explore the implications of the loss of your 401(k) matching plan, and compare it to the tax benefits of using the HSA.
  1. Consider Your Own Needs. Each person has his or her own unique financial, health and family situation. Make a note of your priorities, and discuss with an agent if an HSA plan is best for you.

If you have further questions about HSAs or open enrollment for 2016, please contact Rivers Insurance Group for a free quote, or call us at (614) 515-5236.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fallen Trees & Homeowners Insurance: What’s Covered?

Trees provide a beautiful view, shade from the summer’s sun, and a home for nature’s creatures. They add many benefits to our yards – as long as they remain healthy and standing.

But what happens if a tree falls, and damages your home or your neighbor’s home? Are you responsible, and will your homeowners insurance cover the damage?

The answer is: it depends.

The Responsibility of Homeowners

As a homeowner, you have a responsibility to keep your home in good condition and your trees healthy. You are required to perform any maintenance work necessary to prevent significant damage to your home. This means removing diseased trees, broken branches and dead tree limbs, so they don’t fall, causing injury or damage to property.

The Responsibility of Homeowners Insurance

Most homeowners insurance policies protect you or your home from accidents that occur as a result of Mother Nature. It includes coverage from falling objects, such as healthy trees that fall because of wind, hail, or the weight of snow or ice. It will cover damage to your home, detached garage or barn, and will also take care of the removal of a tree if it blocks a driveway or a handicap ramp.

If a tree falls and causes damage, your homeowners insurance will need to know the answer to two questions:

  1. Why did the tree fall?
  2. Who owns the tree?

Why Did the Tree Fall?

The million-dollar question is what caused the tree to fall. If the tree was healthy and it fell because of a storm, it would be covered by homeowners insurance.

However, maintaining the health of your trees is your responsibility. So if the tree fell because the branches were diseased or damaged, it would not be covered by your homeowners insurance.

Who Owns the Tree?

Ownership comes in to play when determining whose insurance will cover the damage caused by a healthy fallen tree.

If you own the healthy fallen tree, and it causes damage to your home, your homeowners insurance would cover it. If your healthy tree falls on your neighbor’s property, their homeowners insurance would cover it.

Tips to Avoid Damage from Trees

Rivers Insurance Group recommends the following tips to avoid the damage, expense and inconvenience brought on by fallen trees:

  • Keep your trees healthy. Have your trees trimmed regularly to avoid being responsible for damage it could cause.
  • Hire a landscaper. If your tree’s branches are large or high, hire a professional landscaper to handle the problem for you. Repairing the problem is less expensive than paying for the damage it is likely to cause.
  • Know your policy. Understand what is included in your homeowners policy, and the policy limit per tree.
  • Talk to your neighbors. If you see a broken branch on your neighbor’s property, bring it to their attention, and explain that a fallen damaged tree is not covered under insurance.

Rivers Insurance Group is an independent insurance agency that provides you with home, auto, life and health insurance coverage. Since we work closely with many different insurance companies, we can offer you exactly the amount of insurance you need, at a price you can afford.

If you would like more information about Rivers Insurance or what your homeowners insurance covers, please give us a call at 614-515-5236.

 

 

Time for a Cookout! Grilling and Homeowners Insurance Basics

 

grilling

Every year, millions of Americans safely enjoy outdoor barbecues, but accidents do happen. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, about 5,700 grill fires take place on residential property every year, causing an annual average of $37 million in damage, 100 injuries and 10 deaths. The majority of grill fires are caused by malfunctioning gas grills. In addition, thousands of people visit emergency rooms every year because they have burned themselves while barbecuing.

Homeowners Policy Coverage

In the rare instance of a grill fire spreading to your property, your homeowners insurance would provide financial protection as fire is a covered peril. A homeowners policy covers the following:

  • Damage to the house itself.
  • Damage to personal possessions such as lawn furniture.
  • Damage to insured structures on your property, such as a shed or gazebo.
  • Injuries to a guest, under the liability portion of the policy.

Keep in mind you’ll have to pay your deductible before your insurance kicks in, so if damage is minimal and your deductible is high, it may not make sense to file an insurance claim.

However, the best way to enjoy a summer of outdoor barbecues is to take steps to prevent accidents, including maintaining your grill and using it safely.

4 Tips for the Frugal Backyardsman

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Patio accessories and maintenance can be costly. I’ve learned how to save money and maximize enjoyment both by understanding how to properly maintain the space, and applying a little know-how when things wear out.

So, let me offer some advice that may save you money and maximize your patio investment.

Approach staining your patio or deck as you would painting an inside room

You’d never paint a room in your home without cleaning, prepping and priming the walls. The same idea holds true with your patio or deck.

It always amazes me when I ask my neighbors why they’re staining their deck every year (and thus, spending extra money and time), and the answer is “because I have to.” What they’re really saying is the wood didn’t hold the stain from last year and now they have to restain.

Follow these three prep steps before you stain to break that annual cycle.

  1. Clean your deck or patio first with a good power washer. This will open up the fibers in the wood or thoroughly clean the concrete or stone on your patio.
  2. Follow up the cleaning with a quality soap scrub. Let the surface dry completely, then stain or seal. I recommend using a stiff bristled brush to help the stain or sealer really bond with the surface.
  3. Wait at least 24 hours to walk on it and you’re all set.

Proper preparation can help your stain and sealer last for three years or more.

Avoid deck furniture with oversized cushions

My wife and I learned a lesson about cushions the hard way. A few years ago, we bought beautiful “deep seating” furniture for our patio. It was well built and comfy. The cushions were beautiful, and as we found out, impossible to replace at a reasonable cost.

The chipmunks in our neighborhood apparently threw a rodent soiree in our backyard one evening and completely destroyed our cushions. We’ve spent two years looking for replacements, and have found only one company that makes them. They’re more expensive than the original furniture. Lesson learned.

Maximize your outdoor time with a good, big patio umbrella

The sun is hot. The shade is cooler. A big umbrella makes shade and increases the time you’ll want to be outside. Simple.

A couple years ago, we finally figured this out, and have been enjoying our patio more frequently ever since. I placed it so it would open up over our furniture and voilà! Instant relief from the sun.

We spent about $200 on our umbrella, but if you figure that we now use the patio twice as much, and the expected life span of the umbrella is five to 10 years, and the summer is five months long … it’s worth every penny.

Repair, rather than replace, your grill

It seems like every spring I find something new that’s wrong with my grill. One year it’s rusty grates. The next year, it’s a starter that won’t spark. The next year, the flame shields are full of holes. Every year I want to buy a new grill. Then, I remember that I’m looking at $500 for a good one.

A few years back I found grillpartssearch.com. I’ve been using it ever since, as it makes replacement parts easy to find and cheap. Replacing all the parts I mentioned above cost me a total of $52, and they should last at least five years. Give your grill a good cleaning every spring, replace any broken parts, and enjoy the summer.

Decking out your patio can be fun and lead to years of summer enjoyment. Following these few simple tips is a good start, but there are many more ways to deck out that patio on a budget.

 

Protect Your Valuables With Valuable Items Coverage

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Better coverage for cherished possessions

From jewelry to collectibles, you probably have more valuables than you realize. And your homeowner’s policy may not cover their full value. Your peace of mind is worth it.

Consider Valuable Items Coverage for:

  • Jewelry and engagement rings
  • Silverware, china and crystal
  • Antiques
  • Fine Art
  • Stamp and coin collections
  • Bicycles
  • Trophies
  • Sound equipment (recorders)
  • Sports equipment (archery, camping, fishing, skiing)
  • Wedding gifts
  • Cameras
  • Computers
  • Musical instruments
  • Golf Equipment
  • Furs
  • Guns
  • Pedigreed dogs
  • Garden tractors
  • Political campaign collections

Personal Articles Floater:

  • Itemized coverage and peace of mind knowing your belongings are appraised and insured to value
  • Separate protection just for valuables
  • Policies can be purchased separately
  • No deductible and insures against many risks
  • Ideal for more expensive articles with values that exceed a homeowners policy

 

Five Sure-Fire Ways to Get Your Car Stolen

 

Most people would say their car is one of the most valuable assets they own – if not the most valuable. Despite that, however, some people make it downright easy for thieves to drive off in their pride and joy.

At Rivers Insurance Group, we don’t want you walking out your door to an empty driveway or leaving the mall only to find some broken glass left behind in your parking space. So take care to avoid these five mistakes.

Mistake #1: Leave your car running … and unattended. We know it can be chilly in the mornings, and who wants to wait in a cold car while it warms up? Well, a thief certainly won’t mind the chill – as he’s driving away in your car while you’re finishing that cup of coffee in your kitchen. If your car is running, you should be in it. Period. Even if you’re just running over to the ATM to get some cash or dropping off some mail.

Mistake #2: Keep a spare set of keys inside the car. Law enforcement agencies say this is a great way to turn a car prowler into a car thief. They’re already breaking into your car to get a phone, or a laptop, etc. What do you think they’re going to do when they find a set of keys? They’re not going to drop them off on your porch with a nice note, that’s for sure.

Mistake #3: Put valuables in plain sight. Seems simple, but we’ve all made this mistake. You’ll just be in the store for a second, after all, so who cares if you leave your smartphone on the front seat? Or items from your other errands in the back seat? Be smart – if you have to leave items in your car, put them in the trunk, or at least hide them as best you can. And do it before you get to your next destination.

Mistake #4: Leave your car unsecured. The best thieves can work wonders with a window that’s left open even just a crack. And even the worst thieves can steal a car that’s been left unlocked, with no alarm set.

Mistake #5: Assume nobody would want to steal your car. Think your car is too old or too undesirable for a thief to bother? Scrap metal is worth money, so never assume that your car is safe – even if you think it’s just a “junker.”

Keeping thieves away helps to keep everyone’s insurance costs down, so avoiding these mistakes not only will save you hassle, it will save you money as well. So stay safe, not only on the roads, but in the parking lots as well!

 

Parents are Role Models for Teen Drivers

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Parents play a critical role in influencing teen driving behavior. Teens who report their parents are not good driving role models are more than twice as likely to be involved in an accident.

Accidents. Twenty-four percent of teens who report their parents are not good driving role models have been in more than one accident as a driver, compared to 10 percent of teens who report their parents are good role models as drivers.

Tickets. Fifteen percent of teens who report their parents are not good role models as drivers have been issued more than one ticket (speeding or other moving violation), compared to six percent of teens who report their parents are good role models as drivers.

Disconnect Over Top Driving Concerns

The survey found that parents and teens do not always see eye-to-eye when it comes to certain driving-related risks. Among the largest disconnects:

  • Driving under the influence. Sixty-six percent of teens are concerned about driving under the influence of alcohol, compared to 14 percent of parents.
  • Distracted driving (mobile/smartphone). Fifty-six percent of teens are concerned about distracted driving as a result of mobile/smartphones, versus 35 percent of parents.
  • Staying aware of other drivers on the road. Fifty-two percent of teens are concerned about staying aware of other drivers on the road, compared to 31 percent of parents.

“The Talk”

Ninety-eight percent of parents report they have had conversations about safe driving with their teen drivers, while 96 percent of teens report they have had conversations.

Reaching Teens at a Younger Age

Younger teens are more receptive to safe driving conversations than older teens. Among those who have not had a safe driving conversation with parents:

Sixty-seven percent of 16-year-olds would like to have the conversation, compared to 29 percent of 18-year-olds.

Of that 67 percent, half are waiting for their parents to initiate the conversation.

 

Source: Travelers