Good food, good cheer and, of course, gifts are some focal points of the holiday season. The hustle and bustle, however, may distract us from potential risks that can surround us this time of year. Thefts and break-ins may increase during the holidays, since thieves often know that many families travel during the holiday season potentially leaving their homes unattended or stocked with high-priced gifts. Consider these five ways to help protect your valuables, home and car this holiday season:
1. Leave the Lights On
Many people look forward to visiting family or taking a trip while the kids are out of school over the holidays — and thieves might be looking forward to your trip, too. Unoccupied houses can be potential targets for burglary, but hiding the signs of vacancy may fool thieves into thinking you’re still home. Leaving lights on, asking a neighbor to get your mail and setting automatic timers on holiday lights and decorations may give the appearance of being home. It may also be a good idea to do a home security check and consider making any necessary updates before you leave.
2. Keep Valuables Out of Sight
Shopping often goes hand in hand with the holiday season. As you go from store to store, it can be tempting to leave bags and packages in the back seat of your car — and in plain sight of thieves. Be sure to hide your purchases or put them in the trunk, park in well-lit areas and lock your doors.
3. Be Vigilant About Locking Up
The first, and perhaps most important, step in keeping your home safe is to be vigilant about locking up. When leaving your home, keep in mind that thieves don’t always enter through the front door. Make sure all the doors, including back and patio doors, are locked. And finally, check your windows periodically to make sure the hardware is secure.
4. Customize Package Deliveries
If you prefer to do your holiday shopping online, it might be a good idea to start customizing the delivery times and locations for your packages to help deter theft. Most shipping carriers may allow you to have a package dropped off at your home by a back or side door instead of the front door. You can also choose to have your packages held at a carrier’s location so you can pick them up at a time convenient to your schedule.
5. Protect Your Luggage
If you do plan to be traveling during the holiday season, you may want to take a few steps to help prevent theft of your luggage. According to Consumer Reports, it may be a good idea to avoid using designer bags and opt for more basic-looking luggage so as not to draw attention to thieves. When going through security, make sure to be vigilant of watching your bag and grabbing it right away. Do not let your bag sit at the end of a conveyor belt when putting your shoes back on. You may also want to consider having the zippers of your bag face toward the inside of the overhead bin so it would be tricky for a thief to steal something if you’ve stepped away from your seat.
Taking a few more precautions during this time of year may help you to enjoy the holiday season with some extra peace of mind and happy cheer. Have questions? Give the insurance professionals at USA Mututal Insurance a call to get started with homeowners insurance.
People who buy life insurance enjoy one or more of the following benefits:
Benefit: Peace of mind
The number one reason to buy life insurance is that if you died, someone you care about would be in a rough spot financially. This insurance policy protects your loved ones from financial hardship caused by losing you.
If you’re married, you might worry about how your spouse will pay off the house or put food on the table without your income. If you’re a parent, you might worry about your kids paying for college without you, or how their guardian will pay for childcare. Or maybe you want to spare your loved ones from digging into their own pockets to pay for your funeral.
Plenty of people lose sleep over money, but the right life insurance policy can help you feel confident your loved ones will have the lump sum they need if you pass away unexpectedly. But having a policy can also help you live more fully today.
Let’s say you want to invest money in yourself or improve your lifestyle right now, but draining your savings to put a down payment on a house or go back to school makes you nervous. What if you take on all that debt and then die unexpectedly? Would anyone you love get stuck with the bill? If you have life insurance, you know your debts will be paid even if the worst happens. Insured people can feel more confident in taking these financial risks to improve your life now.
Benefit: Expanding your financial portfolio
Not all life insurance policies increase your net worth, but those that come with a cash value component (known as permanent life insurance policies) can. Cash value (known as a living benefit because you can take advantage of it before death) acts like a savings or investment account, accumulating funds as you pay your premiums and collecting interest along the way.
Many use their life insurance policies as a way to diversify their retirement savings or “force” themselves to put aside cash for a rainy day. While cash value shouldn’t replace an emergency fund, you can take out a loan against it if you need it to pay medical bills, long-term care, or any other expense. You’ll just need to pay all policy loans back, or any death benefits your loved ones receive will be reduced by the amount you owe.
Benefit: Tax relief
Two main tax benefits may come with life insurance: a tax-free death benefit and tax-deferred cash value growth.
Tax-free death benefit payout
If your net worth is already high, you might buy life insurance solely to avoid estate taxes when leaving an inheritance to your spouse or children. Death benefit payouts are tax-free in most cases, so if you set your policy up smartly, you could prevent Uncle Sam from taking a massive cut of your estate.
For most, the tax benefit of life insurance are more of a perk. Generally, your beneficiaries won’t have to pay taxes on the money your policy pays them.
Tax-deferred cash value growth
If you buy a cash value policy, any interest your account earns grows without you having to claim it on your taxes. Those who want to access their cash value can borrow it from this account tax-free in most cases as well.
Benefit: Flexible financial security
No one knows what life will send your way, and life insurance is like a Swiss Army knife of financial protection. Your beneficiaries can wield the death benefit payout to cover whatever expenses they wish, even if you buy final expense life insurance specifically. Loved ones can use the money to pay down the mortgage, send the kids to college, or keep food on the table.
Some life insurance policies offer flexibility for you too. For instance, universal life insurance allows you to adjust your premiums and death benefit payout as needed. And if you buy a term life policy with a conversion option, you could extend your life insurance to provide lifetime coverage.
There are even optional riders that allow you to take out part of your death benefit while you're still alive if you've come down with a terminal illness—and when it comes to expensive chemo treatments, that flexible option can make all the difference.
Benefit: Affordable coverage
Most consumers overestimate the cost of life insurance, believing that premium payments cost three times what they’d actually pay. In particular, millennials overestimate by more than five times the actual price.
The truth is, life insurance can be quite affordable, depending on your situation and the insurance policy you choose. A term life insurance policy is cheaper than a permanent policy like whole life, for example, and young, healthy people see lower rates than older adults with preexisting conditions.
If you’re looking for life insurance for seniors or you have preexisting conditions, you may still have inexpensive options. Insurers tend to specialize in insuring people in specific situations to make a name for themselves among those shoppers. Some companies are quite forgiving of former tobacco use, for example. Others may offer low rates for people with diabetes.
If you get a life insurance quote you that you think is too high, shop around. Chances are, you’ll find a lower rate for similar coverage elsewhere.
Do you want to know more? Click here to speak with one our insurance professionals at USA Mutual Insurance.