How to Purchase Life Insurance Like a Pro

How to Purchase Life Insurance Like a Pro

The recent pandemic has raised a lot of interest in life insurance, and for good reason—it protects your loved ones financially should you pass away. Still, 54% of Americans have no plans to purchase a policy within the next year. This could be for a number of reasons.


Whether it be for financial reasons or mere uncertainty on how to obtain sufficient life insurance coverage, arming yourself with the know-how can make the process easier.

Types of life insurance policies

A life insurance policy is a financial contract that will pay out a death benefit to a beneficiary, or beneficiaries, upon the time of your passing. It’s intended to help your loved ones take care of your funeral costs and any living expenses in your absence. Many insurance companies will offer a range of coverage options to accommodate a variety of lifestyles and life changes. 


There are 3 types of life insurance policies:

1. Term life insurance — This is the most common form of coverage. It will provide a level death benefit for a set period of years (i.e. 10, 20, or 30). If you need additional coverage by the time your policy expires, you’ll need re-apply with your insurer.

2. Permanent life insurance — Unlike term life insurance, this type of coverage lasts your entire life and will often include a cash accumulation option that you’ll be able to access while you are still living. The premium is more expensive than other policies, but this option offers a fixed rate of return on cash value and set premiums that don’t fluctuate. 

3. Group life insurance — This coverage option is typically provided through an employer and typically only pays out one or two times the amount of your annual income. If you are the main source of income for your household, this may not be enough to support your family financially. It’s common for coverage to cease if you leave the company.


Understanding the types of life insurance policies available to you will help you determine which coverage options best fit your needs. Having too little or too much can hurt you financially, not to mention, leaving your family without a paddle in an already stressful and overwhelming time.

life insurance with Downey Insurance Group

Avoid tackling the search without an advisor

Your life insurance policy should be a part of a comprehensive financial plan as it’s an investment in your and your family’s future. If you’re unsure of where to start, or confused by the legal jargon, it’s best to consult with an insurance advisor and/or financial professional. They will outline each policy’s terms and conditions, go over the fine print, and work with you to find the best possible coverage.


Additionally, they’ll help you to weigh the pros and cons of purchasing a life insurance policy now versus prolonging obtaining one. A common mistake that many make is putting off going through the process of buying a policy.


This can result in higher premiums because your health and age play a huge role in determining your rate and coverage eligibility. As you age, you become more likely to develop health issues. Purchasing a life insurance policy earlier in life will result in more affordable coverage.

Keep your life insurance policy updated

The minimum policy term is 10 years and a lot can happen during this time. You might marry or go through a divorce. Maybe you added a few new additions to your family or have taken on the sole responsibility of caring for your parents. Divorced or remarried? You’ll also need to update your beneficiary to reflect those changes. Failing to do so means that any funds paid out by your life insurance won’t go to your current partner, leaving your loved ones in a financial bind.

Take away

Life insurance is put in place to provide financial protection for your family when they need it most. It’s a way for you to support them in death. By rendering financial relief, your loved ones can carry on without worrying about how they’ll be able to afford to do so. You should also consult with an independent agent to assist you in finding the right amount of coverage to fit your needs which will help to ensure that your family has an adequate financial safety net should you pass away.

Contact us today and learn more about how a life insurance policy can benefit your family.

How to Estimate Insurance on a Rental Property

How to Estimate Insurance on a Rental Property

You found the perfect rental property, signed the lease, and landed on a move-in date—now what?

The next step would be to obtain an HO-4 policy. Commonly referred to as tenants or renters insurance, this additional coverage option protects your personal property and guests from a number of unexpected events relative to your new home. Renters insurance will also cover additional living expenses (ALE) should your rental property become uninhabitable at any point during your stay.

It’s your financial safety net as you embark on a new journey in a neighborhood, but how much do you really need? We’ve put together this simple guide to help you determine the right amount of coverage.

Assess the current value of your assets

Renters insurance is intended to financially safeguard you as a renter. Assessing the value of your assets means that you are not underinsured in case of an emergency—any amount exceeding the coverage limits for your rental property is not covered. Your HO-4 policy should provide ample protection.


An HO-4 policy protects you from:

  • Fire or lightning
  • Explosion
  • Windstorm or hail
  • Riot or civil commotion
  • Vandalism or malicious mischief
  • Falling object
  • Smoke
  • Damage caused by aircraft
  • Damage caused by vehicles
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Theft
  • Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
  • Overflow of water or steam
  • Sudden damage from hot water heater or A/C
  • Freezing of plumbing or pipes
  • Damage from electrical currents

Flood-related damage is not typically included and will require additional coverage. Depending on your insurer, there may be other non-covered perils within your HO-4 policy such as earthquakes.

If you have more valuable items—jewelry, art, electronics, and other collectibles—you may need to purchase additional coverage to protect the full value of your personal property. This is known as an endorsement, or rider, and covers high-value items. It’s a sure way to ensure you have enough coverage to replace all your belongings when a covered disaster hits your rental property.

Account for your surroundings and living situation

The area where your new rental property is located will have a direct impact on the cost you’ll pay for renters insurance. If you live in an area susceptible to natural disasters like wildfires or tornadoes then you’re likely to pay a higher premium for coverage. This could also be the case if your new neighborhood has high crime rates and if your rental property is not located near a fire station or fire hydrant.

Insurers account for the high-risk probability associated with an area to help determine the appropriate amount of coverage needed. Any furry friends making the move with you could also potentially be seen as high risk for a tenant. Aggressive breeds, due to the increased chance of dog bites, require additional liability coverage and, in some cases, are not covered by the insurer. More risks for you and your rental property means more coverage limits. Higher coverage limits translate to higher premiums. The highest reported premium is in Atlanta, GA, and runs the average consumer $269 annually, or about $22 a month—well above average. The national median cost of renters insurance in the U.S is $168 annually, or about $14 a month. Keep this in mind when gauging your total costs of coverage.


renters insurance with Downey Insurance Group

Evaluate your financial health

Your financial past is just as important as your current financial state when determining how much you’ll pay for your rental property’s HO-4 policy. What we mean by this is that your claims and credit history both impact your renters insurance costs as does your chosen deductible. 


It may cost more to insure your rental property if:

    • You filed one or more claims in the last three to five years
    • You have an unimpressive credit-based insurance score
    • You choose a lower deductible in lieu of high premiums

Residents in California and Maryland are not subject to credit-based prices. Aside from those exemptions regarding a tenant’s credit history, insurers often charge tenants with recently filed claims more because they are seen as high-risk. You can, however, cut high premiums down by opting to pay a higher deductible. If you are in good financial standing, doing so will lower costs.

Take away

Estimating the costs for coverage on any rental property prior to shopping around will help you to set realistic expectations on what a local insurer could charge. Once you have a general idea of how much coverage you need and what you can afford, consult an insurance professional. Working alongside a trusted insurance rep will guarantee that you’re getting the right coverage at the best possible rate.

Contact a Downey Insurance rep today to find affordable coverage for your rental property.

Is Comprehensive Auto Insurance Worth It?

Is Comprehensive Auto Insurance Worth It?

Adding comprehensive auto insurance to your policy will provide the financial protection you need in the event of a non-collision accident. It can save you thousands of dollars in repairs and even cover the remaining balance of your auto loan if deemed totaled. 

This means that any loss or repair costs caused by an incident that did not involve a collision—i.e. severe weather damage, fire, or theft—are covered minus your auto policy deductible.

Comprehensive auto insurance coverage

Comprehensive auto insurance protects you from minor and major damages caused by elements beyond your control. Hit a deer? Covered. Fallen tree-crushing your vehicle? Claim approved. Create a safety net from financial hardship by accounting for the possibility of non-collision accidents.


Comprehensive auto insurance covers damages related to:

  • Animal contact such as a dented panel caused by hitting a deer.
  • Natural disasters that result in flood damage or other weather-related issues.
  • Fire resulting from natural causes and/or riots.
  • Theft of vehicle or parts of vehicle.
  • Damage to exterior including broken windshields and vandalism.


Comprehensive auto insurance safeguards your vehicle from damages sustained outside of auto collisions.

comprehensive auto insurance with Downey Insurance Group

This additional layer of coverage is subject to a deductible—a predetermined amount subjected from a claim check which typically ranges anywhere from $500 to $1,500. As the policyholder, you are financially responsible for the deductible in full should a comprehensive claim be filed. Your insurer would then cover the remainder of your repair costs. For example, let’s say your car was struck by a deer, and the cost of damages totals $1,500. A comprehensive claim is then filed and approved by your insurer. Upon approval, you pay a deductible of $500. Your insurer will then issue an insurance claim payout of $1,000 to repair the damages (the total repair costs minus your deductible).


Damages and injuries caused to others, your injuries, or damages resulting from an auto collision are not covered. You do, however, have the option to add on collision or additional liability coverage.

Comprehensive auto insurance vs collision insurance

Though frequently lumped together, comprehensive auto insurance differs from collision insurance by how damages are sustained to the vehicle. Are the cracks in your windshield from a hail storm or head-on highway collision? Is the dent in your hood from a fallen tree or contact with someone’s bumper?

Comprehensive auto insurance will cover non-collision damages whereas collision insurance covers those caused by a collision. Outside of liability auto insurance—which is a requirement in most states excluding New Hampshire—both forms of coverage can protect you from unexpected financial strain. If the cost of repairs happens to exceed the actual cash value (ACV) of your vehicle, your insurance company will total the vehicle and issue you an insurance payout equal to the ACV minus your deductible.

In most states, a vehicle is deemed totaled if and when the damages exceed 75% of its value.

Take away

There are both pros and cons to adding additional coverage to your auto insurance policy. If you are in a position where reinforcing your auto safety net is optional, it’s good to weigh each beforehand. 

Adding comprehensive or collision coverage to your policy could save you money on repairs or replacement costs due to unexpected events on- and off-road. Such auto insurance coverage add-ons complement your liability insurance policy by preparing for the future and covering all possible bases. 

Contact us today and let us help you create your perfect auto insurance policy.

What You Need to Know About Changing Your Homeowners Policy

What You Need to Know About Changing Your Homeowners Policy

So you’re midway through your homeowners policy’s term and you’ve just finished up a few home renovations. You couldn’t be happier with your home’s new facelift, but what if your current coverage isn’t enough to cover the upgrades in the event of an incident or theft? 

There are still another 6-7 months left on your homeowners policy and you start to consider if changing your policy, or maybe even your insurer, would be a smart move. Is changing my homeowners policy an option? Will it save me money or is the swap moot? The good news is that yes, you can change your homeowners policy at any given time. This is your right as a homeowner, but before you commit, take a moment to evaluate your situation.

Assess your homeowners policy

Take a deeper look at your current coverage and policy terms. Note the annual premium, coverage amounts, deductible, and effective dates. All of these details can be found on your homeowners policy declaration page, which is the first page of your insurance packet. Depending on your insurer, there may be specific stipulations that could directly affect your ability to opt out of your policy mid-term.  Avoid a lapse in your home’s insurance coverage, including related penalties or fines, by understanding your policy’s terms and conditions or consulting with your insurance agent.

Re-evaluate your coverage needs

If you are considering swapping out your current homeowners policy for a new one, chances are that you’ve undergone a few life changes. The home renovations, for one, increased the value of your home substantially. New flooring, shiny appliances, fresh paint—all beautiful upgrades that will likely cost a lot more to repair or replace. Not quite sure the exact value? Try reaching out to your insurance agent. They’ll help you to account for any changes in your home’s repair or replacement costs. Let them know that you’re considering a homeowners policy change. Your mortgage lender will need a copy of your new declarations page should you decide to switch. Those who own their homes outright do not have to notify anyone of this change and may do so at their own discretion. 

Shop around and compare rates

Opting to change your homeowners policy mid-term doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stick with your current insurer. Maybe there’s a local insurance agency that offers coverage options that better suit your needs at more affordable price points.

A homeowners policy can differ by:

  • Policy limits in the amount of coverage provided
  • Exclusions of what constitutes as a valid claim
  • Deductibles which affect your insurance premiums
  • Discounts offered including policy bundle deals

When comparing rates and coverage options, get quotes on identical homeowners policies to ensure an accurate comparison. You may also want to consider looking into related rankings and reviews for each insurance agency. This will help you to weigh your options. The key is to find a homeowners policy that better suits your needs without breaking the bank.

how-to update your homeowners policy

Select a new homeowners policy

You’ve finally landed on your ideal homeowners policy—now what? The first order of business would be to align your new policy’s start date with your old policy’s end date. This date should be the same (i.e. new policy starts on October 1 and the old policy ends on October 1). Differing dates between your old and new homeowners policies could cause coverage to lapse and create a financial burden. Avoid this by going over the start and end dates to ensure that they are timed accordingly.

You should also discuss possible discounts or policy bundle deals with your new insurance agent. Many insurance carriers offer reduced premiums for those who bundle their home and auto insurance. If you are active duty military or a government employee, you may qualify for a special discounted price on your selected coverage. Ask your insurer to understand your savings qualifications.

Take away

Changing your homeowners policy mid-term can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Downey Insurance Group partners with a wide arrange of insurance carriers. This makes finding your home’s best-fit coverage quick and simple. Our independent insurance agents will assist you in changing your homeowners policy mid-term by helping you to assess your current coverage and compare the appropriate policies. We are with you from start to finish.

Contact us today and see if switching homeowners policy mid-term is right for you.

Top 3 Reasons Why Every Pet Parent Needs Pet Insurance

Top 3 Reasons Why Every Pet Parent Needs Pet Insurance

Did you know that the average cost of an emergency vet visit without pet insurance can run anywhere between $800 to $1500? It’s a financial burden any pet parent would find overwhelming, and rightfully so. Pets make their way into our homes and hearts, quickly becoming a part of our family. 

We budget for routine vet visits, vaccines, tests, and living experiences. We pamper them with treats, toys, love, and attention. It’s estimated that pet parents spend roughly $355 to $650 each year on food, toys, treats, and other miscellaneous expenses. Their well-being is our well-being. 

Then suddenly they develop a bump in an unlikely place or display odd behavior that’s out of character. In some cases, having long-term effects on your pet. 

This is where having pet insurance becomes essential.

It saves you from unexpected medical expenses due to your pet’s emergency vet visit and/or treatment plan. The average cost of an emergency exam can run anywhere from $75 to $170.

The best-fit pet insurance policy for your pet

Whichever level or combination of pet insurance coverage you decide to obtain for your pet will depend on your financial health, their pre-existing conditions, and/or breed. There’s a variety of protection options for all kinds of pets, but the most commonly offered are pertaining to cats or dogs.

Types of pet insurance policies:

  • Wellness policies cover your pet’s most basic needs (i.e. annual check-ups and vaccines).
  • Accident-only policies will reimburse you for emergency-related care.
  • Accident-illness policies also provide coverage for your pet against accidents and unexpected illnesses. This is the most common type of pet insurance purchased.
pet insurance in the U.S.

You also have the option to add additional coverage for your pet’s pre-existing conditions. This includes health and physical issues. Opting for a wellness add-on may be pricey, but it provides the most comprehensive coverage.

The key factors that affect what you pay are:

  • Size — this includes the height and weight of your pet.
  • Breed — the genetic makeup of your cat or dog.
  • Age — to clarify your pet’s current life expectancy.
  • Deductible — which is the amount pet parents are financially responsible for.
  • Policy provider — who provides financial support through a pet insurance plan.

The level of pet insurance you land on aside, there are 3 reasons why it’s for every pet parent.

1. Vet recommended 

The beautiful thing about pet insurance is the state of well-being they aim to help your pet maintain. When your pet is covered by an insurer, it means that your pet will always receive the right care regardless of your financial health. This, in turn, translates to fewer pets being euthanized or abandoned due to economic-related reasons. All veterinarians are “in-network” for pet parents. Your insurance provider simply reimburses you rather than you having to pay the doctor yourself.


2. Cost-saving 

Pet insurance saves you from outrageous out-of-pocket expenses. Once you meet your deductible, your insurer will commonly cover additional costs up to a certain number of accidents or amounts per year. 69% of Americans even say that they have less than $1000 saved up for emergencies.


3. Supports well-being 

Pet insurance encourages the kind of “best life” every pet parent would want their pet to lead. It’s preventative care that highlights your pet’s future health. Healthier pets don’t just equal a healthier pet population. It also reduces the stress pet parents often feel over the cost of medical bills. Active coverage benefits everyone.

If you’re a pet parent, chances are you could benefit from having pet insurance in place for your furry friend. It’s more affordable than it has been in previous years as well with most insurers offering wellness policies starting as low as $9.95 a month. With most pet parents considering their pets to be family, that’s a small price to pay to ensure that they’re protected in case of an emergency.


Contact us today to set up your pet’s safety net. Downey Insurance Group finds the coverage your pet needs at a price point your pockets would love, giving you the peace of mind you deserve.

Auto Care and Road Safety in Extreme Heat

Auto Care and Road Safety in Extreme Heat

Do you ever wonder if extreme weather conditions affect auto performance? 

The short answer is yes. Both cold and hot temperatures are harsh on the vehicle as well as the driver. Taking extra precautions can mean the difference between a smooth trip or one rattled with bumps.

There’s not much we can do to eliminate hot days or heat waves during the summer, but we can take steps to prepare ourselves and our vehicles for road safety. Scheduled auto maintenance is suggested to keep any car performing in tip-top auto shape. Want more confidence in tackling the summer heat?

Prepare you and your vehicle for extreme heat by:

1. Check the vehicle’s tire pressure.

Hotter days combined with cooler nights cause a constant fluctuation in a tire’s air pressure. When temperatures rise, it affects the temperatures of the roads which ultimately impacts a vehicle’s tires. The air pressure increases and the tire soon become overinflated. This is now a road hazard as an overinflated tire can lead to a blowout or other auto roadside emergency.

2. Keep under the hood and the vehicle’s interior cool.

The normal operating temperature of an auto engine is 195 to 200℉. Extreme temperatures put additional strain on the vehicle, increasing the odds it could overheat or break down.

Pay close mind to the temperature gauge and ensure that maintenance is always current. Check the levels of all fluids, namely the coolant to prevent the engine from overheating, and address any auto issues immediately. Is your air-conditioning (A/C) working correctly? Do you need a new cabin filter? A quick recharge or replacement could help to improve the quality of airflow. 

To keep the vehicle’s interior cool while not in use, try parking in shaded areas or invest in an auto shade to reduce the absorption of the sun’s rays. The interior can increase by 30℉ in the course of 1-hour with partially cracked windows doing little to offset the dramatic increase in temperature. No animal or living being should be left in a parked vehicle during the hotter months.

3. Prepare an emergency auto kit.

In addition to your spare tire and standard roadside kit, it’s wise to take extra precautions when the seasons change from cool to hot. This is because the risks of driving in the summer slightly differ from those prone in the winter months. Blowouts and heat exhaustion are just two.

Make sure there’s always a tire gauge on hand. Checking your tire pressure periodically will help prevent the possibility of a blowout on the road. Remember, a tire’s air pressure increases during the hotter months so the PSI should be on the low end when parked—36 PSI for most tires. Another key item to carry is a set of jumper cables. Hotter temperatures put a strain on a vehicle’s battery as well and being stranded in extreme heat is dangerous. Protect your vehicle and yourself.

Pack a cooler filled with cold drinking water. Hydration in extreme heat. If you begin to feel too hot or the interior becomes unbearable, pull over and allow time for a cool down. If you notice your engine starts to steam or smoke, you should call for roadside assistance. 

Looking for a DIY fix? Once the engine has cooled down, add a little coolant or water.

Maintaining the auto care of your vehicle is just as important as being aware of your immediate surroundings on the road. Pay attention to how you’re feeling physically. Take note of how consistent the auto performance of your vehicle is. Driving in extreme heat isn’t a no-go zone. Hotter weather just calls for additional measures. This is especially true when it comes to operating an electric vehicle.

Both hot and cold temperatures can reduce the charge of an e-battery by as much as 40%. Whether your vehicle is manual, automatic, or electric you can avoid delays in transportation by planning ahead to account for any possible heat-related auto mishaps. Increased temperatures present increased road risks for drivers. Try adding an additional layer of safety with comprehensive and/or collision insurance.


Contact us today and learn how we can help you beat the heat.

signs of heat exhaustion