Monday, December 14, 2015

Medical Payments – Do I Need It?

It's that time of year again: Thanksgiving, ChristmasHanukkah, and Open Enrollment for the Affordable Care Act!  Well, I'm not going to open that can of worms, but I am going to discuss how you may want to adjust your auto insurance due to changes in the hospitalization market.

Med Pay:

There is an optional coverage on your policy called Medical Payments.    Medical payments coverage will reimburse you, your family member, and/or any one in your covered car for the medical bills sustained while either riding in, exiting, or entering your vehicle.  Essentially, if someone gets hurt in your car the insurance company will reimburse you for bills.   This is regardless of who is at fault; whether you run into Santa’s sleigh or he sideswipes you—it doesn't matter.

Don't confuse this with your Liability insurance.  Liability will cover medical expenses to the other party in the event of your negligence. 

The question is, "do I need Med Pay?"   Years ago I would tell people that it was nice to have, but if you had good health insurance you might not really need it.  Today is a different market and a different story.  This is the ACA part: in the last couple of years, low deductible hospitalization plans have basically disappeared.  Therefore, an inexpensive addition of Medical Payments on your auto policy is shifting towards a “need to have.”
Even if your injuries are the other person's fault, it might be months before your claim is settled and many individual health insurance plans have $5,000 through $10,000 deductibles.  The upside?  The cost for Med Pay coverage is minimal as long as you have a good record.  For example, a two car policy might only be $35 a year for $5,000 in coverage. (This coverage can be added mid-term, but of course it cannot be added and applied to a previous accident.) 

As always, I'm talking about North Carolina and if you would like more information give us a call!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Why Should YOU Come to Cline Hall Agency?

Why should you come to Cline Hall Agency?


Let us explain...

In one word: people.  More specifically, real people.  We don't have any cute lizards with English accents, nor advertising darlings telling you how unique his or her company is, and we don't have a host of folks sitting in cubicles 24-hours a day waiting for your call at 3 AM.  What we do have is a small, but very experienced staff that will be available to you for years to come and actually will be familiar with your specific insurance needs and get to know you as the years go by.  Our average tenure in the insurance industry is 19 years.  
Also, we don't work for a company, we work for you.  We are an independent agency and we're able to look at several companies to make sure you are getting the best options available.  You don't buy your clothes, groceries, and household goods at only one store with a limited selection, so why would you buy your insurance coverages where the agent can only offer you what one company has to offer.  No company is the best at everything; we give you options.  
Unfortunately,  advertising executives have turned insurance into something that is selected mostly based on price.  While price should always be considered, it is only one of the factors.  First of all, these numbers you see in advertising, such as "40% discounts" and "Save $437!"  are meaningless. We constantly insure folks from those companies who make those promises, so I don't know who they are actually saving!  You need to sit down with a person you can trust, make sure you have all the coverage you need, and then look at the price for that coverage.  We will do that with you.  It's probably going to take longer than 15 minutes like Gieco says, but you are going to be able to rest assured you are properly covered.  
Give us a call and let us show what we can do for you!

Our Companies

As we've said, as an independent agency we sell numerous companies: Erie Insurance, Auto-Owners, National General (formerly GMAC), Progressive, Universal, and more!  If you want specific information on the company that we're quoting you with, click HERE.

Basic Questions:

Insurance is confusing. We get it--there are so many different rules and coverages and everything is changing!  We are always here to answer your questions, but sometimes it's past midnight and suddenly  you're struck with the question, "What does 'Coverage C' cover anyway?!".  Well, we still want to you help, so we've created some YouTube videos for you to watch in the wee hours of the night!  Whether it's a question about whether your rental vehicle is covered or how your home policy with Cline Hall Agency (HE-7) differs from other typical agencies (HO-3)--check us out HERE!

Meet the Office:

Cline Hall is the founder of Cline Hall Agency.  He graduated from Virginia Tech in 1983 and has been in the insurance business since 1984.  He left a larger company to open his own agency as an independent agent in 1993.  He's passionate about helping and educating his insureds about insurance and representing his client instead of representing a sole company.  For more information or background read HERE about Cline.

 Kyle Moore came to Cline Hall Agency after 6 years of aiding the education community with their specific insurance needs and benefits.   Kyle's enjoyed now being able to provide insurance to all communities of North Carolina through the numerous companies provided through an independent agency.  For more information on Kyle, read HERE.

 Cynthia Banks has been with Cline since 1996 and made the trek to an independent agency with him in 1999.  She is a North Carolina State graduate and brings a great deal of wisdom in insurance knowledge. Read HERE for more information about Cynthia.

 Sarah Towle has been with Cline Hall Agency as an agent for 6 years now, and is Cline's youngest daughter.  She's carried the family passion for helping insureds in both knowledge and practical help through an independent agency.  She currently resides in Wisconsin and works via a satellite office.  For more information about Sarah, read HERE

Contact us:

(p) 252.756.5200
(f) 252.756.4617

Monday, February 10, 2014

What's GAP insurance?

I get this question all the time.  People know me as an insurance agent so when they have a question about insurance I'm the guy they call.  I'm glad the do that!

First, I don't sell GAP insurance.  Gap insurance is normally something that is offered at the car dealer when you finance you car.  It helps you in the situation when you have your car totaled in an accident and you owe more on your car than it is worth.  Say you owe 18,000 on your 2012 Nissan and the car is worth 15,000, in that case you might have to come out of pocket 3,000 to pay off your loan once the insurance company settles your loss.  This could happen if you are at fault in the accident or the other person is at fault.

So who needs GAP?  Well if you have financed a large percentage of your car purchase you might need it.  If you didn't finance it you don't need it.

What can I do for you?  I think I have a better option, if you have purchased a new car many of my companies offer a coverage called Repair or Replacement.  What that means, if your car is involved in an accident the company guarantees that they will repair your car or buy you a new one.   Let's go to the above example-if your 2012 Nissan is totaled and you have that problem with owing more than the car is worth. If you have Repair & Replacement coverage, NO WORRIES!  The company is going to buy you a new current year car like the one that you wrecked.  They will contact your finance company and do what is called a collateral swap so now you still owe $18 ,000 but now it's on new Nissan not your old one!

Another plus with this coverage, you can still purchase this if you haven't financed your car.

One important thing to note, you need to purchase this coverage when you purchase the car. You can't buy it once you need it. It's one of those horse is out of the barn things.

If you are interested in this then give me a call at 252 756 5200 or contact us on the web at it!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Insurance is Going UP?

No matter who you are insured with,  if you are in the part of heaven we call Eastern North Carolina, your homeowners insurance is going up.


Here is the slightly abridged version: it takes a while to cover all of the explanations, so if you don't like reading here is an internet star (cough*me*cough) with a video on the subject!   Clike HERE for the video.

To begin, most of the coast of North Carolina is insured by through the North Carolina Joint Underwriters. In short, the NCJUA is an entity set up by the state to insure properties that others companies choose not to insure.  Why won't companies insure these properties?  Good question!  The answer is insurance companies, like all companies, are in business to MAKE MONEY!  If they don't think they can make money, then they aren't going to insure it.  North Carolina, by means of the Insurance Commissioners Office, limits how much can be charged for insurance premiums, so companies have began refusing to write Wind and Hail (hurricanes and tornadoes are not mentioned in insurance policies, wind and hail is what covers them) in the 18 coastal counties of North Carolina.  (The companies can do that because the state law allows insureds to purchase the wind and hail coverage from the NCJUA through what is called the Beach Plan.)

All of this sounds fine, EXCEPT, it is widely believed that there is not enough money available to handle all the potential losses. Some sources think the pool of money to pay potential losses is underfunded by 65 BILLION!  Due to that small problem, a bill was passed a few years ago, NC House Bill 1305.  Basically,  the companies that do business in North Carolina will have to bail out the NCJUA in the event that they do not have enough money to cover the disastrous event.  Therefore, companies will be responsible for an assessment based on the percentage of business they have in NC.  If a company has 10% of the business in NC, they will have to pony up 10% of a BILLION dollars.  The legislature realized that companies don't have that kind of money lying around so they (through the NCDOI) are allowing rates on homeowners to go up so that the companies can put money aside for this probability.  This is on top of the money the companies must have to cover their own clients, as well.

Add on top of this Hurricane Irene that came along after this bill was passed. While Irene was not a big hurricane it did cause problems for some companies.  NC Farm Bureau had a lot of losses near the coast and subsequently have had their ratings dropped, and in turn have cancelled thousands and thousands of policies, flooding the market with people needing insurance.  This makes the other companies wary of bringing on these particular customers.

Every company went up last year, and sorry to say, it looks like it is coming again this year. I just got this email this week: click HERE.

Where does that leave you?  Well, if you are insured with CHA, our companies are still the best positioned.  Our companies are smaller and don't advertise, so they were less expensive to begin with and don't have quite the potential losses of the Nationwide, Allstate, and State Farms.  We are constantly insuring new people everyday from these other companies as our prices are very competitive.

IF YOU AREN'T INSURED WITH US, take Dave Ramsey's advice and give us a call!

If you have any questions, give our office a call!  If not, enjoy your weekend!  Go outside!


Monday, January 6, 2014

How to Prepare for Tonight:

We are going to be experiencing some record low temperatures tonight. Therefore, you might want to take precautions to keep from having damage to your property.  Here are a couple of quick and easy to-do's to keep your property damage-free.

1. Watch were you  park your cars.  If you have a garage, that is best place, of course because the cold and windchill can cause glass to crack  Also, the low temps following rain will cause limbs to break in trees and fall.  I'm going to park my car out on the street tonight!

2. Try to prevent pipes from freezing.  Probably none of us have our pipes wrapped to keep from freezing, but if you  have any pipes that are close to outside walls, you might want to open cabinet doors near your sinks to let some heat in to keep them warmer.

3. Leaving water on at a trickle will keep the pipes from freezing. So, if you are really worried you might try that.

4. Check your antifreeze in your cars.

5. Close your garage!  It's going to be cold enough to really cause problems.  Don't let the cold in!

6. Bring your pets in!  DO NOT RUN A HEATER, HEAT LAMP, LIGHT BULB or anything like that in the dog house.  I have already had a client almost loose one of their properties because the neighbor did that and caught the roof on fire!

Stay safe and keep warm!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Passions in Life and Insurance Tips

A good friend of mine told me to today that he envied me. He said that he wishes he could pursue his passions like I have. However, to be honest, I had never thought of the fact that I am one of those lucky people who do get to pursue something that I feel passionately about.

When people think of pursuing passions, I suppose thoughts come to mind such as sailing across the seas, climbing Mount Everest, or motorcycling through Europe. I think that is an over romantification--I just made that work up apparently according to spell check--okay, a romanticized notion of pursuing a passion. You see, we all have to eat and usually this has a cost associated with it. And that cost is usually covered by something we define as work. And yes, I am one of the lucky people who get paid to pursue my passion.

You are probably asking yourself how can selling insurance can be a passion. Well, my real passion is helping people. While I don't operate a food bank or homeless shelter, I do try everyday to make people's lives a little easier by helping them face the risks they have for financial loss in the best way possible. I guess you could shorten that by simply saying, “saving money on their insurance.”

I remember when I decided to go into sales. I was an adjuster handling large liability claims. I had just driven to Pantego, NC to pay a claimant policy limits on their claim. That means I was paying the maximum I could; it was the total amount of coverage that the insured driver had purchased. I showed them the copy of the policy verifying the amount and gave them a check for that amount. Thinking I had done the best for them that I could, they proceeded to cuss me out, and then said they were going to get an attorney and sue. I tried to explain to them that they received all the money available, and the insured driver had died in the accident and really had no estate to go after. However, they continued to curse at me.

Later that day, I went to an agents office. A new client was there exclaiming how appreciative she was that the had saved her $20. I thought..Hmm, maybe I would like sales better.  And later in my career I had a chance to become an independent agent which allowed me even more ability to find the best possible options for my clients. That makes me happy.

I say all this to explain how I pursue my passions in life and in my business. Along those lines, I want to share some ways to save money very easily on you insurance. These thing usually work no matter the company.

1. Raise your deductibles. There can be a dramatic effect depending on the circumstances. I recently ran the numbers for a client and showed him he would have saved $2300 over the last 12 years had he had a $1000 deductible on his home owners instead of $250. On auto, I have seen client insist on a $0 deductible on comprehensive even though it may cost them $400 a year to make sure the didn't have to pony up any money in the event of a windshield break.

2. Pay your bills annually and online. Especially with auto, most companies give a discount for paying in full in the area of 7 to 10%. The companies like to get the money up front so they can start investing it and not don't have the expense of billing. And you are more likely to keep your policy for the entire year so they give you an incentive to do so. A win-win for everybody.
     I'm always amazed at the number of people who like to come by my office and pay their bill. With the cost of gas, and wear and tear on their car that has got to add $5 to the cost of each payment. Instead, jump online and pay with a credit card you get reward points, save on gas and stamps, and let your money work for you another month. Of course, I do suggest paying your credit card in full and not carrying a balance if at all possible.  Which leads me to...

3. Maintain a good credit record. There is a statistical correlation between credit score and number of claims. Almost all companies use credit as a factor in rating. The better your credit the better your rate. This is one of the biggest factors you can control, more incentive to pay all your bills on time!

4. Multi-policy discounts. If you can qualify to have your Home and Auto insurance with the same carrier it is usually the best option. Especially in ENC !

5. Consider the cost of insurance BEFORE making a purchase. I am the one that has to deal with the aftermath when that shiny new car spikes your insurance premium or the big house out in the country costs a lot more than your little house in the city. Call your agent before you make the decisions so you know the total cost.

6. Improve security. Smoke detectors, dead bolt locks, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, and security systems can literally save your life and in the process qualify you for more discounts.

7. Have an independent agent. Yeah call me impartial, but it's the truth. If I am doing my job correctly, I'm finding you the best combination of rate and coverage for you and not just selling the one company I work for (sorry captive agent friends!)

8. Check the financial ratings of the insurance company. Just like the companies check your credit, you should check theirs. If a company has a less than stellar rating then they apparently don't have as much money in the bank to pay future claims. If they are selling insurance cheaper yet are rated lower you savings my be only in the short run.

Want more financial advice? Give me a call!  As I've stated, I'm passionate about it!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cline's 8 Rules for New Drivers

First, understand that I am not your normal fuddy duddy insurance agent. I have a need for speed. I couldn't wait to get my license when I was 16. I have a very quick motorcycle, I race cars at places like Daytona and Watkins Glen. I had five car wrecks before I was 19-years-old. So, I both know what I'm talking about and I remember being in your shoes. I'm sharing this stuff to help you out, and hopefully it'll help in both keeping your insurance premium at a manageable price and keep you alive as well! Here goes:

  1. What ever happens is going to be your fault! There is a prejudice against young drivers, sorry but that's how the world works. If you are involved in an accident, you are more than likely going to be blamed. Everybody in your car could say you had the green light, but the middle aged person that hit you is going to get the benefit of the doubt and you will get the ticket! One reason to be extra careful.
  2. You will get pulled over before everyone else! A whole row of cars can be going the same speed and you will be the one pulled over. Again, I'm sorry, but that's the way it works. Double this if you are a cute girl, the day after your tag expires some cop is going to pull you over. It happened all the time to my daughters! If you do get a ticket don't try to hide it by not telling your parents and paying it your self. Tell your parents and call me, I might be able to help you out. If you pay it yourself your rates are probably going to go up and your parents will call me wanting to know why the rates went up. I will then tell them you got a ticket and stuff will hit the fan!
  3. You are an Inexperienced Driver--admit it! Yeah, I know you have had drivers ed and one year of a learners permit but it is not the same as years of experience. Your insurance premium is 3 times higher than an older person, but you are more than four times more likely to have an accident. The day I got my license I borrowed my Mom's old station wagon to go pick up my girlfriend and take a ride. With in a half hour I was going the wrong way on a one way street. I just had not been on that road and didn't know it was one way. You learn by mistakes but mistakes in a car are costly. BE CAREFUL!
  4. Watch out for everybody else! Ok, I have told you that you are not the best driver because you don't have experience, but there are people out there worse than a brand new driver! Here are some things to be on the look out for:
  • Big (Buicks, older Cadillacs, Lincolns, and Crown Victorias) cars where you can't see the drivers head! That means it is some person about 100-years-old and they can't see you! Give them plenty of room

  • Brake lights in front of you. First of all, give people plenty of room, you remember the rule, one car length for every 10 miles an hour. When you do that, people will pull in front of you, and now you've got to back up some more. Back to the original point, if the car in front of you has brake lights on you need have your foot on the brake pedal slowing down. I can't count the times I have heard “it wasn't my fault, they slammed on brakes in front of me.” Wrong! It was your fault, those brake lights told you they were braking, now you start braking.
  • Don't let somebody wave you through traffic! You know, you are trying to get out of a parking lot, turning left across traffic, and there is a line of cars stopped in the lane in front of you. The nice lady in the Buick (that her head doesn't come above the seat) stops early and waives you through. You are in a hurry so you happily go though,  and WAM, you get hit by a car coming down the other lane that you couldn't see because of Grandma's big Buick. Grandma wasn't looking back there and didn't know it was coming. I just look straight ahead in those situations or wave back at Grandma and motion here to go on.
  • On the interstate be very careful passing, people are using the cruise control and forget to look when they want to change lanes. Watch them as you are passing.

    1. Drinking! Ok, we all know you aren't supposed to be drinking, and I am sure you will not yield to peer pressure and try your first beer at a party. BUT IF YOU DO, don't make the problem worse by driving home. Remember the rule about getting pulled over? Yep, this is when you will get pulled over or worse, have an accident.
      Who Looks good in a Mug Shot?
      (Parents don't read this next part) Call your parents tell them you have a stomach virus and you can't drive home, get a ride with somebody else (who hasn't been drinking of course) have them pick you up. Anything is better than driving!
    2. CELL PHONES! Do I have to show you pictures of all the young people who have been killed because they were distracted by talking or TEXTING​? You might as well drink a case of beer and drive, it is that dangerous. Honestly, I don't even like using bluetooth. If I am having a conversation with someone else, it distracts me way more than if they are in the car with me. Put the cell phone where you can't reach it to remove the temptation. It's too easy to be at a stop light and decide to take a "selfie" or send a text. Next thing you know you have rear ended the person in front of you or veered out of the lane because you had to finish the text.
    3. Bad weather changes everything. If it is raining or snowing or there is ice on the road it makes everything worse. Again, I can't count the times I have heard “ I hydroplaned/slid on the ice/skidded on the wet pavement--it wasn't my fault.” Wrong, it is your fault and you get a ticket for DRIVING TOO FAST FOR CONDITIONS.
    4. This one is for PARENTS (kids don't read). Ok, you have given your kids a curfew? What do you do when they are 5 minutes late? Lower the boom because there is a zero tolerance policy at your house? NO! That trains them to drive like a bat out of a hot spot to get home to avoid the wrath of parents. Give them some tolerance, and when they get home late hug them and tell them how much you love them and they almost gave you a heart attack because you were worried sick! I find guilt is a better motivator! BY ALL MEANS, DON'T TEXT THEM WHEN THEY MIGHT BE IN THE CAR! And, set a good example by you not texting in the car.

So what is your reward for following these rules? MONEY! No, I'm not going to give you a reward but you won't be paying me as much money for your insurance. Even years from now, when you are out on your own, your driving record from now can haunt you. The cheaper your insurance is the more money you have to spend on fun stuff!

Hey, call me with questions!