Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of our frequently asked questions. If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

  1. What do do if my basement floods?
  2. Teen Drivers and Bad Decision
  3. How much life insurance do I need?
  4. How much Liability should I have on my Homeowners policy?
  5. How can I change a car on my policy?
  6. I need a declarations page sent to my mortgage or loan company?
  7. Why is Life Insurance Important?
  8. What is an Umbrella Policy?
  9. Will Jewelry and Art be covered on my Homeowners polcy?
  10. Its vacation time, do I need Car Rental Coverage
  11. Should I carry collision on my car?
  12. Allstate Customer - Rate Increase
What do do if my basement floods?

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Teen Drivers and Bad Decision



Saturday, February 5, 2011
Teenagers, Friends and Bad Decisions

Why do otherwise good kids seem to make bad decisions when they are with their friends? New research on risk taking and the teenage brain offers some answers.

In studies at Temple Universit
y, psychologists used functional magnetic resonance imaging scans on 40 teenagers and adults to determine if there are differences in brain activity when adolescents are alone versus with their friends. The findings suggest that teenage peer pressure has a distinct effect on brain signals involving risk and reward, helping to explain why young people are more likely to misbehave and take risks when their friends are watching.

To test how the presence of peers influences risk taking, the researchers asked 14 young teenagers (ages 14 to 18), 14 college students and 12 young adults to play a six-minute video driving game while in a brain scanner. Participants were given cash prizes for completing the game in a certain time, but players had to make decisions about stopping at yellow lights, and being delayed, or racing through yellow lights, which could result in a faster time and a bigger prize, but also meant a higher risk for crashing and an even longer delay. The children and adults played four rounds of the game while undergoing the brain scan. Half the time they played alone, and half the time they were told that two same-sex friends who had accompanied them to the study were watching the play in the next room.

Among adults and college students, there were no meaningful differences in risk taking, regardless of  whether friends were watching. But the young teenagers ran about 40 percent more yellow lights and had 60 percent more crashes when they knew their friends were watching. And notably, the regions of the brain associated with reward showed greater activity when they were playing in view of their friends. It was as if the presence of friends, even in the next room, prompted the brain’s reward system to drown out any warning signals about risk, tipping the balance toward the reward.

“The presence of peers activated the reward circuitry in the brain of adolescents that it didn’t do in the case of adults,” said Laurence Steinberg, an author of the study, who is a psychology professor at Temple and author of “You and Your Adolescent: The Essential Guide for Ages 10 to 25.” “We think we’ve uncovered one very plausible explanation for why adolescents do a lot of stupid things with their friends that they wouldn’t do when they are by themselves.”

Dr. Steinberg notes that the findings give a new view of peer pressure, since the peers in this experiment were not even in the same room as the teenager in the scanner.

“The subject was in the scanner, so the friends were not able to directly pressure the person to take chances,” Dr. Steinberg said. “I think it’s helpful to understand because many parents conceive of peer pressure as kids directly coercing each other into doing things. We’ve shown that just the knowledge that your friends are watching you can increase risky behavior.”

Dr. Steinberg notes that the brain system involved in reward processing is also involved in the processing of social information, explaining why peers can have such a pronounced effect on decision making. The effect is believed to be especially strong in teenagers because brain changes shortly after puberty appear to make young people more attentive and aware of what other people are thinking about them, Dr. Steinberg said.

The study results are borne out in real-world data that show teenagers have a much higher risk of car accidents when other teenagers are in the car. More study is needed to determine if the effect shown in the game study is the same when teenagers are in the presence of an opposite-sex friend or romantic interest. In the study, there were no meaningful differences in risk taking among boys and girls. However, some real-world driving data suggests that teenage boys take more risks behind the wheel when one or more boys are in the car, but drive more carefully if they are with a girlfriend.

For parents, the study data reinforce the notion that groups of teenagers need close supervision.

“All of us who have very good kids know they’ve done really dumb things when they’ve been with their friends,” Dr. Steinberg said. “The lesson is that if you have a kid whom you think of as very mature and able to exercise good judgment, based on your observations when he or she is alone or with you, that doesn’t necessarily generalize to how he or she will behave in a group of friends without adults around. Parents should be aware of that.”

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How much life insurance do I need?

Life insurance is something you buy and hope you'll never use.

But if you have anyone in your life who depends on your income, you might want to give it some thought. The big questions to answer: Do you need it? If so, how much should you buy? And what kind should you get?

It shouldn't be confusing. The main thing to remember: Life insurance is designed to replace lost income or pay for special needs your family would have if you weren't around.

If you decide you are a good candidate for life insurance, your next step is to estimate just how much you need. Doing that will also give you a good snapshot of your lifestyle and financial needs, and that will make it easier to select the type of policy you need.

Who needs life insurance?

Not everyone should get life insurance. "For someone young and single with no dependents, there's really not a need for life insurance," says Owen Malcolm, CFP, vice president and CFO of Sanders Financial Management in Atlanta.

But if you've got a spouse, kids or aging parents who depend on you, life insurance is a good option.

If you're a wage earner, you want to replace your salary, plus provide for any additional needs, such as paying off the mortgage, college tuition or career training for a spouse who may be re-entering the workforce.

Another question to consider: Would your working spouse want to take some time away from the job to be with the kids after a loss? If so, what would that cost?

If you're a stay-at-home parent, look at what it would cost to hire help to perform tasks you routinely do (day care, housekeeping, financial management, cooking, grocery shopping). If you're caring for a family member with special needs, what would it cost to make sure that person is provided for if you die?

Also look at where you are in life. If you're at or near retirement, how would your spouse's income change if you weren't around, or vice versa? If all or most of your pension or retirement savings would be accessible, you might not need life insurance.

Examine your tax situation. Years ago, families carried insurance policies just so they could be sure that estate taxes wouldn't force the sale of homes or assets. But today, with higher thresholds, "very, very few people need insurance to pay an estate tax bill," says Malcolm.

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How much Liability should I have on my Homeowners policy?
We recommend you carry at least $300,000, however you can increase this amount to $500,000 for most carriers.  If you are looking for more coverage you should consider an Umbrella Policy.  Most Umbrella Policies can be written for $1,000,000 to $5,000,000 in coverage.  Its an affordable way to increase your coverage

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How can I change a car on my policy?
You can either call our office, 610-792-3990 or send a request through our website.

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I need a declarations page sent to my mortgage or loan company?
We will fax a copy for you upon issuing your new policy.  Subsequent requests you can use the information mailed to you with your policy or contact us.

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Why is Life Insurance Important?
Life insurance may sound like something you only have to think about when you get older, but there are a variety of benefits to buying life insurance early on in your working career. Even if you don't have a family that is dependent on you, or if you feel that your employer's life insurance policy is adequate for your needs, there are many reasons why you should consider taking out your own life insurance policy.

If your employer provides you with a life insurance policy, you shouldn’t necessarily rely on it. While many companies may offer life insurance as one of the key benefits of a job, the figure often doesn't cover enough to be of adequate benefit to your family - especially in the event of your death. For instance, many firms may offer life insurance that is one or two times the amount of your annual salary; but most financial planners will recommend replacing that with life insurance that covers up to 10 times your annual salary. 

There are two types of life insurance: term insurance or investment type insurance. Term insurance will provide benefits to your family or your dependents if you die during the proposed period covered by your policy. Investment-type life insurance, also known as, "permanent insurance", will include endowment policies and "whole of life" policies. This type of life insurance remains in effect for as long as you continue to pay your premium. Essentially, part of this premium will go to an investment account; so, as well as paying out in the event of your death, it will build up in investment value - which you can actually cash in before you die. This is a great reason to invest in life insurance when you're younger - the earlier you buy, the higher the investment value that will accumulate during your lifetime, and the more you may be able to reclaim when you're older.

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What is an Umbrella Policy?
Lets start by dispensing with many of the myths surrounding umbrella liability coverage.
  • Its just for the rich.
  • Its too complicated to coordinate it with your existing insurance like your homeowners policy.
  • The premiums are too expensive.
All of these myths are incorrect. Umbrella liability is relatively affordable, can be easily coordinated with your existing insurance policies and by no means is it just for the well-to-do.
For full article, click here MSN Money

Umbrella liability insurance is so named because it acts like an umbrella, sitting on top of your auto and homeowners liability policies to provide extra protection. (Even if you dint own a home, remember that you still need renters insurance to cover both your liability and your personal property). Some examples of where umbrella coverage often comes into play
  • An auto accident in which you're sued under your auto insurance policy. :
  • Your neighbor slips and falls on your property, and you're sued under your homeowners insurance.
  • A natural disaster in which another person's property is damaged by, say, a tree on your property crashing down on their vehicle or home. This usually falls into the, "I thought that was covered by my homeowners policy" category

Call us today to discuss adding this coverage to your policy.


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Will Jewelry and Art be covered on my Homeowners polcy?
Most policies carry basic coverage for up to $2500 for Jewelry but will not cover fine arts.  If you have specific items you wish to insure, it is best to add a Personal Articles Policy.  You will need a itemized list of the items you wish to insure and the values of each.  Items over $1500 may require a professional appraisal.

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Its vacation time, do I need Car Rental Coverage
Having the rental car endorsement on your policy will greatly benefit you if you are in an accident and need temporary transportation.  Most companies offer you reimbursement of $30/day up to $600 per incident.  It also protects you because it extends coverage to any car you drive.   You would not need to purchase the additional insurance offered by the rental car company.  The coverage is very affordable -- it will cost about $35 year to add this coverage to your policy.  Give us a call and make sure you have this endorsement on your policy today.

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Should I carry collision on my car?
As a general rule of thumb, for cars older that 12 years we recommend removing this coverage.  The car's value may not be much higher than the cost of insurance.  To determine your car's value visit Kelly Blue Book.

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Allstate Customer - Rate Increase
Check out this article on upcoming changes to Allstate.

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