Dave’s Most Popular Money-Saving Tip

Everyone loves saving money. And Dave has lots of ideas for cutting back expenses—everything from brown bagging lunches to buying beater cars.

But there’s one tip that Dave’s fans absolutely love. Every time we mention it, people thank us because they save hundreds—sometimes thousands—of dollars.

Maybe you’ve heard it before. If so, bear with us—many folks are just getting to know Dave. Or perhaps you’ve heard it and never tried it. If that’s you, we encourage you to go for it!

So what’s everyone’s favorite tip? Shop for insurance with the help of an independent insurance agent.

The Difference Is in the Name

Why is an independent insurance agent such a great money-saver? Becausethey’re not limited to a single provider’s options. With access to a whole network of insurers, an independent agent casts a wider net to find you the best deals on the coverage that’s right for you. It’s like having your own personal shopper!

And you can feel confident knowing your independent agent doesn’t have a dog in the hunt when it comes to which provider or policy you choose. At the end of the day, the choice is yours.

Old Policies Aren’t Necessarily Better

If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that things change. Yet many people treat their insurance policy like a bottle of wine that just gets better with age. And that mistake could cost them. More than30% of policyholders haven’t touched base with their insurance agent in the past year, which means they could be missing out on new discounts or opportunities to match their coverage to their current circumstances.

Change can be hard, but it’s worth it. Take it from Zach D. After 15 years with the same auto insurance company—a legacy from his early days of driving—he decided to give an independent agent a try. And now his family is saving $1,200 a year on the exact same coverage. “I can’t believe I waited so long to shop prices!” he said.

It’s About More Than Your Bottom Line

Saving money is awesome. But cutting costs shouldn’t mean cutting corners. A true pro takes time to walk you through your coverage options so you can make the decision that’s right for you.

Sadly, this basic level of service isn’t always part of the package. A recent survey found that 61% of respondents don’t fully understand the details of their insurance policies. That’s crazy! You should know what you’re paying for. No one wants to be surprised in the middle of a crisis when you’re trying to file a claim.

You also shouldn’t have to sacrifice your coverage quality to save a buck. Brandi H. decided it was time to shop around after her family’s premiums went up 10%, so she called her local independent insurance agent. “I not only cut our rate by 20% but also got increased coverage with lower deductibles!” Brandi said.

Start Saving Today

Think about what you could do with hundreds of extra dollars a year. Would you knock out your debt snowball? Boost your retirement fund? The possibilities are endless! So what are you waiting for?

If you don’t know an independent insurance agent, we can recommend a few in your area. Dave’s insurance Endorsed Local Providers (ELPs) are experts with the heart of a teacher who have a solid track record of providing excellent service.

Read the full article here.

Keeping Your Pets Cool: 8 Dog Breeds that Are at High Risk of Overheating

By Jessica Remitz | Pet360.com

Though we all like to keep our pups in tow whenever we can find a dog-friendly outdoor space to romp and play, but as the weather heats up, it may be best to leave certain breeds at home. We asked Dr. Louise Murray, vice president of the ASPCA Animal Hospital, to share the top breeds that are at risk for overheating in warm weather in addition to some tips for keeping your pup cool and safe in the summer months.

Although many of the breeds on this list are brachycephalic-or have short noses and wide, flat heads-it’s important to take proper precautions for keeping any dog cool in warm weather and never (ever!) leaving them in a hot car for any period of time.

#1 – Pug

Playful, confident and friendly, Pugs are well loved for their charisma and charm. With a wrinkled face, short legs and compact body, the Pug’s unique expression and physique is well known among dog fanciers and pet parents alike. Because of its small size, Pugs can happily adapt to both city and country living.

Brachycephalic breeds-or dogs with short noses, compact skulls and compressed upper respiratory systems-like the Pug are inefficient panters, which means that they’re unable to cool themselves as effectively as other dog breeds. Because of this, brachycephalic breeds are more prone to overheating and require extra care in warm weather, particularly access to shade and plenty of water.

“Dogs can become dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of water when it’s hot outdoors,” Murray said. “If they are panting heavily, bring them to a cooled-off area and give them water.”

She also recommends providing pets with a shady place to escape if they’re out in the sun or keeping them completely indoors when it’s very hot.

#2 – Pekinese

An ancient toy breed that originated in China over 1,000 years ago, the Pekinese is a happy, loveable lapdog. Loyal and devoted to it’s family, the Pekinese can also be wary of strangers. With a thick undercoat and long, dense overcoat, Pekinese require regular grooming, in addition to special care in warm weather.

If you anticipate spending a lot of time outdoors with you dog, it’s important to check with your veterinarian to make sure they’re healthy enough to participate in the plans you make, Murray said. “Every dog is different, so there’s no set of guidelines that can apply to every one,” she said.

#3 – Bulldog

Originally used for bull baiting, the Bulldog is now one of the most popular companion animals in America and is one of the most popular AKC breeds. A short yet powerful dog with a heavy build, trademark under bite and lots of loose skin, the Bulldog makes an adorable couch companion, albeit one that may be prone to snorting and drooling.

Learn more about Bulldogs.

While the Bulldog may require some prodding to go out for a walk, they might have some trouble breathing as they run or play because they are brachycephalic, Murray said, so take care not to over-exercise them.

“Dogs will not limit their own activity, so pay close attention to how your dog is acting as they play,” she said.

Nagel Photography via Shutterstock

#4 – Shih Tzu

Another ancient dog breed that was kept as a companion and lap dog by Chinese royalty, Shih Tzus remain popular family pets and companions. A playful breed that loves learning new things, Shih Tzus are generally good with children and other dogs. With a dense undercoat and long, straight outer coat, the Shih Tzu requires regular grooming and may snort and sneeze (in addition to overheat in warm weather) frequently because of its short muzzle.

You’ll want to avoid spending too much time on the pavement with your dog in warm weather, as the ground can heat up quickly and can create blisters or burns on the pads of your dog’s paws, Murray said.

#5 – Boston Terrier

One of the first breeds established in the United States, the Boston Terrier is a lively, intelligent breed with a gentle and easy going disposition. A compact breed with large ears and a wide smile, Boston Terriers generally require a minimal amount of exercise and grooming and, aside from their propensity to overheat in warm weather, tend to be easy keepers.

#6 – French Bulldog

This little lap-warmer was bread as a companion for French royalty beginning in the 19th century. With a small, compact body and large, rounded ears, French Bulldogs also have short muzzles and broad, flat faces. Sweet, affectionate and friendly, French Bulldogs get along well with everyone but tend to become attached to one person in particular. In addition to their high risk of over heating in warm weather, French Bulldogs also need to have the spaces between the wrinkles on their face and neck kept clean and dry to prevent skin infections.

Dora Zett via Shutterstock

#7 – Boxer

Used for fighting and bull baiting in the 18th century, Boxers have become popular family pets, police dogs and military dogs. Large and muscular with a square head, short nose and high-tucked abdomen, Boxers love to play and spend time with their people. Particularly affectionate with children, the Boxers can be protective of their families in the presence of other dogs and require lots of attention.

If dogs are allowed to be active during the hottest parts of the day, they are at risk for heatstroke, which can be fatal if not corrected quickly. If at all possible, Murray recommends limiting extended outdoor time to early afternoon or evening on hot days. If your dog must be out and about during the hottest hours of the day, provide them with plenty of water, access to shade and time to take breaks and catch their breath, she said.

#8 – Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Considered a fashionable lap dog for women in the 17th century, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel remains a popular and friendly companion. An easygoing breed that falls in love with everyone it meets, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is small bodied with a round head, short nose and fluffy drop eats. A breed that loves attention, its medium-length coat requires regular grooming. Although the breed can fare well in either the city or the country, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels-like the other breeds on this list-will need to have access to air conditioning or plenty of cool places when the temperature heats up.

ERIE Honored as One of America’s Most Trustworthy Financial Companies

Written By: Carolyn Stennett

ERIE recently lit up Times Square with the news of being named one of America’s 50 Most Trustworthy Financial Companies. According to a recent study by GMI Ratings, Erie Indemnity came in with a “best score” in the mid cap segment with an average Accounting and Governance Risk (AGR) of 99.

“It’s a great honor to be among companies of this caliber,” said Brad Postema, senior vice president and chief investments officer. “This type of recognition affirms our efforts to live by ERIE’s values, to operate under the highest ethical standards – it’s a great complement to the third-party recognition ERIE receives for service.”

GMI, a proprietary ratings provider and investment advisor, studied the accounting and governance behaviors of more than 8,000 publicly traded banking services and insurance companies from fourth quarter of 2012 through third quarter of 2013. For each company, GMI identified an “Aggressive Accounting and Governance Risk,” or AGR rating. Companies making the top 50 rankings have the highest AGR ratings for the time period studied.

The list of America’s 50 Most Trustworthy Financial Companies was released earlier this month by Forbes. You can see the full list at Forbes.

Read the full story from Erie Insurance: “ERIE Honored as One of America’s Most Trustworthy Financial Companies

(Bitter) Sweet 16 Series: One Mom’s Drive to Survive, Part II

Written by: Tara Maciulewicz

Maddison_Driving_600x400

Since my 16-year-old daughter Maddi got her driver’s license permit last month, I’ve entered uncharted territory. I’m supposed to patiently (yeah, um, sure) teach my teen daughter how to drive. I think I’d rather scrub the bathroom every night of the week than argue with my headstrong teen on how close she really was to that parked car. (I’m telling you, it was close!).

I took her to a big church parking lot when it wasn’t busy over a few evenings. Basically, she got her feel for the gas and brakes and I showed her where things were located in the vehicle. She immediately wanted to use two feet to drive and I nipped that right in the bud. All in all, the first few lessons were not too bad. Plus, she realized, “This driving thing is a lot harder than I thought. I’m scared.” GOOD! I’d rather her be nervous than overconfident right now.

Now all I hear is, “Mom, will you take me driving?” And I cringe. It’s not that I mind taking her, but it’s just one more thing to add to my already really long to-do list. But I know I’m going to have to find time to fit in all this driving practice because in Pennsylvania, you have to log at least 50 hours of supervised behind-the-wheel practice.

“OMG, there’s a van behind me!”

Fast forward a couple lessons, where Maddi and I venture out onto the road…with actual cars. I’m not going to lie, I was tightly gripping the passenger-side door handle. She’s doing okay – a lot of lurching at the stop signs, but she’ll work that out in time.

We’re driving around a neighborhood and she takes a wrong turn toward the main road. She isn’t ready for that yet, so I tell her to pick a driveway and turn around. She pulls into one, and, of course, the van behind us is waiting to pull into which driveway? Yep, the driveway we’re in.

She immediately gets nervous, admitting, “I can’t remember which way to turn the wheel when I back out.” (If you think about it, it’s a tricky concept to master.) I instruct her while reaching over to help.

Instead of hitting the brake as she backs up, she accidentally hits the gas, which makes us lunge toward the mailbox. We narrowly miss it.

“Stop!” I yell. “Get out of the car. I’ll back out so these people can get in their driveway.”

Maddi is mortified at this point. She refuses to get out of the car and says she will just slide over. So I get out of the car, wave at the woman in the minivan and very matter-of-factly say, “Teen driver.” She gives me the nod and I know she totally gets it. The whole way home, my daughter is carrying on about how I embarrassed her. I must’ve missed something.

“And you are so mean, why do you keep yelling at me?”

I calmly explain that I’m not yelling at her. But when she is going too fast or is driving a little too close to oncoming traffic, yes, I may panic. And I most certainly will get louder. She tries to debate me, but a truck is coming.

“Just focus,” I say. And once again I realize why I’m not a teacher.

(Bitter) Sweet 16 Series: One Mom’s Drive to Survive

Written by: Tara Maciulewicz

Tara&Maddy

Well it happened – my daughter Maddi recently celebrated her Sweet 16. Personally, I see nothing sweet about it. They’re already sassy little people and now we introduce the idea that they’re capable and mature enough to operate a 4,000-pound vehicle? On real roads? Next to pedestrians? And other moving vehicles? Help!

Maddi already knew the cards were stacked against her since I work for an insurance company. I see the staggering stats–in 2012, nearly 3,000 13-19-year-olds were killed in auto accidents, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That’s enough to make me want to bubble-proof her for life, but I know that’s not realistic. So I do what every other parent in America does and deal with my girl growing up (sniff, sniff).

Before we get to driving, though, the teen needs a driver’s permit. If you’re in the same boat as me, here’s what has to happen.

Step 1: Obtain the driver’s license permit. In Pennsylvania, teens can get their permit as soon as they turn 16 (check your state’s department of motor vehicles to find out specifics for your state). A couple of points to keep in mind, parents:

  • Teens need to study. Pick up the driver’s license permit book a few weeks prior to the 16th birthday. They need to study, and the answers aren’t all obvious ( I even found myself struggling through a few questions). There are also handy apps created by the state DMV that Maddi downloaded to her phone so she could take practice tests.
  • Be sure you obtain the necessary forms--and fill them out before you visit the driver’s license center for the permit test.
  • Take your teen for a physical before you take the permit test. The physical has to be within the last six months (of course it does…my daughter’s last one was 8 months ago). The physician fills out part of the form, so make sure you take it with you to the appointment.
  • Plan ahead or else you’ll end up like me — overbooked. On her birthday (fortunately a Saturday) we spent time getting a physical, picking up the cake and snacks and going to her brother’s basketball tournament – all before making it to the driver’s license center. I should have planned better and taken her to the physical before her birthday.
  • Bring your teen’s ID and check the driver’s license center office hours. For driver permit tests, you do NOT need to make an appointment (only for driving exams). Make sure you bring two proofs of identity (typically your child’s Social Security card and birth certificate). It’s a busy place, but I have to say I was really impressed at how well organized the process went. After a 10-minute wait, our number was called and my daughter was about to take her test. I felt anxious for her, but she nailed it.
  • Your insurance won’t increase…just yet. YEAH! However, you should call your agent and have your teen added as a non-driver (for which there is no charge). Once he or she becomes licensed, your agent can move the teen from non-driver to driver. Also, my Agent – like so many other Erie Insurance Agents — meets with their soon-to-be drivers and explains the significance of what’s at stake.

Step 2: Start teaching. If your teen’s school offers driver’s ed, that’s awesome. Ours doesn’t, and I chose not to foot the bill for a driving school. That means I’m tackling this job myself. Learning how to drive, of course, doesn’t happen overnight. Learning requires practice, practice and more practice.

  • Log it. Teens in Pennsylvania need to log at least 65 driving hours (you’ll receive a logbook once your teen passes his or her permit test) and wait at least six months before they can get a license. While this new, longer time period may seem unfair to teens (and inconvenient to some parents), consider that it helps make teens safer drivers. And logging hours forces new drivers to drive in a variety of situations – bad weather, nighttime, highway, etc.

This could very well be one of the most important things I ever teach Maddi. It takes commitment. It takes patience (I’ll admit this is in short supply at my house). And it takes letting go (yes, I find it scary that I don’t have a brake on my side of the car!).

That said, lots of parents have survived the painful teen driving process–so it can’t be that bad, right? Well, I’ll let you know. Follow Maddi and me on our journey to earn the coveted driver’s license (she is eligible on Aug. 22) by checking back at eriesense.com to hear my true tales from the driver’s side seat. (In the meantime, check out even more helpful tips for parents of teen drivers.)

See the full article here

The motorcycle may be the hottest accessory for women this year

Written by Elizabeth Delgado

Forget the little black dress or a fabulous pair of shoes, the hottest accessory this spring is the motorcycle.  These days more women are ditching the heels for biker boots. They’re getting behind the handle bars and making people take notice. The bike is slowly becoming the hot new accessory for many women.

According to WomenRidersNow.com, the leading online motorcycle resource for women riders, the number of women riding a motorcycle has increased and shows no signs of slowing down. Women make up more than 12 percent of the bike riding population, up from 10.5 percent in 2009.

A recent study conducted by Harley-Davidson indicated women riders are happier than women who don’t ride. As part of the study, 1,013 riders and 1,016 non-riders were interviewed, and the findings are remarkable. The results show that women who ride feel happier, feel more confident about themselves and most importantly they feel sexy.  Claudia Garber, Director of Women’s Outreach for Harley-Davidson said that “Riding a motorcycle is the ultimate form of freedom and self-expression, so it makes sense that women riders are happier in life and, in general, feel more fulfilled,”.  Check out the article for more detailed results on the study.

I recently visited the Progressive International Motorcycle Show in Cleveland and not only was I surprised at the amount of women checking out the latest bike trends, but I noticed how happy they all seemed to be sharing tips with each other. As I was walking by the Harley-Davidson booth, something purple and sparkly caught my eye. I had to stop and take a better look, the last time I had this reaction was when I walked by the shoe store and saw the newest Louboutins. Harley has clearly been doing their homework, they managed to get a woman who has never been interested in bikes stop and take notice. I have never wanted to ride a bike but at that moment being surrounded by other avid female bikers, I had the sudden urge to get on that beautiful bike.  Who knows maybe one of these days I will build up the courage and learn how to ride.

4 Things to Know When Buying Homeowners Insurance

Home Umbrella

Buying a home can be so overwhelming that it’s easy for first-time buyers, especially, to give minimal thought to the homeowners insurance process. Yet, if something happens to your home, homeowners insurance can make or break you. Before you just sign on the dotted line, here are four tips to guide you:

1. Contact at least three companies to compare coverage. Your mortgage lender can, and probably will, require you to have homeowners insurance. You may be required to purchase additional insurance – like flood insurance. You aren’t required to buy from a particular insurance company. Instead, compare coverage, price and customer reviews. Be sure you get the right type and amount of coverage. Shop for value, not necessarily rock-bottom price. Since you’ll mainly deal with insurance companies during times of disaster, make sure the company you choose has great customer service reviews.

 2. Escrow your insurance payments with your mortgage payments. If you’re like most homeowners, you’ll tack monthly insurance payments onto your mortgage check. The lender will pay your insurance premiums (usually your property taxes, too) out of your escrow account. Lenders prefer this option because it lets them know your insurance premiums are being paid, and their investment is well protected. Most likely, you’ll need to pay for one year of insurance at closing. Bring information about the insurance policy you have chosen and the money to cover the first year’s premium.

3. Make sure you’re getting adequate coverage. The most important part of homeowners insurance is the level of coverage. Avoid paying for more than you need.

Here are the most common levels of coverage:

HO-2 – Broad policy that protects against 16 perils that are named in the policy.

HO-3 – Broader policy that protects against all perils except those specifically excluded by the policy.

HO-5 – Premium policy that typically protects newer, well-maintained homes; it covers against all perils except those specifically excluded by the policy.

HO-6 – Insurance for co-ops/condominiums, which includes personal property coverage, liability coverage and coverage of improvements to the owner’s unit. Insurance for the actual structure usually comes through the association.

HO-7 – Similar to an HO-3 policy, but for mobile homes.

HO-8 – Policy specifically for older homes, with similar coverage to an HO-2 policy. However, it only covers actual cash value.

4. Understand the details of your policy. It’s not enough to get the right policy level. Before you make a decision, understand these homeowners insurance terms:

Deductible – This refers to the amount you must pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in; the higher the deductible, the lower the annual premium.

Liability Coverage – This is coverage that will pay medical or legal bills if someone is hurt on your property, usually due to negligence.

Personal Property – Sometimes called the contents of you home, this is tangible property such as furniture, electronics and clothing.

Premium –  This is the price you pay for insurance, usually annually or monthly.

Replacement Cost – This is the kind of insurance that pays the full cost of replacing your dwelling or personal property, up to a maximum dollar amount. Most standard policies offer replacement cost, but you want to be sure the maximum amount is high enough.

Actual Cash Value – This type of policy gives you the current cash value (with depreciation) for personal property or your dwelling. It’s possible to have actual cash value dwelling coverage (as with an HO-8 policy), but to get replacement cost coverage for your contents.

Sub-Limits – Homeowners insurance policies will include limits, but they’ll typically also have sub-limits. For instance, the sub-limit on personal property for a $500,000 policy would typically be $250,000, or 50 percent of dwelling coverage.

Riders – These are policies you can include on your overall insurance policy to cover specific items. For instance, expensive antiques, jewelry and artworks are often covered under their own rider because they’re too valuable to be covered as regular personal property. Some HO-8 policyholders also may get additional riders for things like heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, which are part of the home and expensive to replace.

Be sure you understand how all of these terms work together in your homeowners insurance policy. Ask questions to ensure you have the right amount of coverage at the right price!

See the full article here.

9 Reasons to Check Your Coverage

As our lives change, so do our insurance needs. Letting us know about changes can ensure that you have adequate insurance coverage through Urban Insurance. Here are some examples of when to check your coverage:

1. You’re remodeling or building an addition to your property. When you hire the contractor, request a certificate of insurance to confirm their liability and workers’ compensation coverages. Review the certificate and your homeowners policy with our agency. In some cases, remodeling projects can increase your home’s reconstruction cost.

2. Your teen starts driving. If a teenager in your home is learning how to drive, that means you’ll soon need to help them purchase insurance. We can guide you through the process, find the best way to add them to your policy and provide materials about safe driving behavior.

3. You got a new job. If you have accepted a position and the work commute is shorter or longer, call us. A significant change in annual mileage could warrant a change in your auto policy. (And that could save or cost you money.)

4. You bought a new ride. If you’ve purchased or leased a new or used vehicle, your insurance policy needs to be updated. Car dealers are required by law to confirm insurance coverage, but only you can make the necessary changes to your policy to make sure you’re fully protected.

5. You’re saving a buck with refinancing. When you’re taking advantage of lower interest rates by refinancing your home or vehicle, your policy should be updated to reflect any new mortgagee or lienholder.

6. Your family’s growing and changing. When you get married or welcome a new baby to the family, the new responsibilities may warrant a change in your home, auto and life insurance coverage.

7. You’ve bought a little luxury. When you purchase valuables such as a diamond ring or a rare piece of art, you should contact your agent. Your homeowners policy covers personal belongings and furnishings, but higher-valued items may have coverage limitations. An endorsement may be advisable for more costly or unusual items.

8. You’ve decided to work from home. If you’re starting a business out of your house, let us know. Depending on the equipment and the nature of your work, an endorsement or separate policy may be necessary to protect your investment and liability exposures.

9. It’s time to retire. Ready to kick back and relax? We can help you maximize the benefits of your retirement plan with a life insurance program.

No matter what you’re considering, contact our agency. We will assist you with life, auto or home insurance policy changes and insurance needs.

New Homeowner Checklist

Victorian houseBuying a house is a big decision and can definitely change your life. You get the advantages of living in a place that’s all your own, but there are so many new responsibilities that fall on your plate: mowing the lawn, painting the house, taking care of that washing machine yourself when it starts spraying water, rather than calling a super or a landlord. These new responsibilities often wind up leading to big new bills.

Make sure to take care of one important task when you buy a new home: change your auto insurance. Sounds strange, right? But many people don’t like to go to the hassle of changing their car insurance when they buy home insurance. Turns out, it’s not a hassle at all, and bundling your ERIE auto and home policies can save you big money.

Give us a call today to find out how easy it is to switch your insurance, and save that cash for your new house.

Halloween Safety Tips