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  • Name: Beth Foster
  • Description: Beth Foster, 27, joins our team from the field of real estate and property development. Originally from the east coast and now living in Florida, she is familiar with the overlap in homeowners insurance and specialty policies that cover extreme weather events like hurricanes and flooding. "People don't find out the gaps are there until something big happens and then, at the worst possible moment, they find out they aren't protected," said Blair. "Most folks just renew their policies every year and don't evaluate the terms. You'd be surprised how many people insure things they don't even own any more!" Contact Beth at info@cheapinsurance123.com with your homeowners and specialty insurance related questions.
  • Member Since: September 10, 2011
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Candles and Fire Insurance


four candles

Four Candles | Credit: MorgueFile.com | Click to enlarge

We all love candles – on the dinner table, atop a birthday cake, on the coffee table, or in the bathroom. They can be part of your home decor, can be stashed in your linen closet or underwear drawer to act as sachets until you’re ready to burn them, and they make great gifts.

Unfortunately, candles are also a fire hazard. A report from the National Fire Protection Association says that between 2003 and 2007, for example, American firefighters responded to about 15,260 house fires a year, all started by candles. Annually, those fires resulted in an average of $450 million worth of property damage, 1,289 injuries, and 166 deaths. In the same four-year period, the Association’s report says, 10 percent of fire-related home injuries, 6 percent of home fire-related deaths, 7 percent of property damage were caused by candles, which were the cause of 4 percent of all reported house fires.

How did candles cause so much pain and damage? Well, the same report says that in 12 percent of cases people fell asleep while candles were left burning, which also led to 36 percent of candle-fire related deaths. That same percentage – 36 – was also the number of candle fires which began in bedrooms. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that many apartment complexes and homeowners associations are attempting to ban the use of candles.

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Still, those of us who love our candle power can use candles safely. Here’s how:

  1. Always extinguish candles before you leave a room, or turn in for the night.
  2. Be sure to extinguish a candle’s flame before the candle has burned too close to the bottom of its container – this is especially true with glass containers. Yankee Candle, for example, recommends considering a candle “finished” when there’s half an inch of wax left.
  3. Don’t use candles in place of flashlights or emergency lighting during blackouts.
  4. Always choose sturdy candle holders that will contain the molten wax and are unlikely to tip over.
  5. Never, EVER, use candles (or any open flame) if someone in your home is on oxygen.

If you should have a candle-related accident, the good news is that your homeowners policy covers fire damage, though, depending on the way your policy is written it may only reimburse you for the depreciated value of any destroyed belongings, rather than the actual cost to replace them. Also, you will be paying a deductible if you make a claim.

Before you light your next candle, take time to review your homeowners insurance police, and read the details on fire insurance coverage.

Tuesday Matinee: Reduce Coverage without Increasing Risk


We all want to save money on insurance, and one way to do that is to reduce the coverage we have to only what we need. It’s important, however, not to expose yourself to more risk when you lower your coverage. This video from LifeQuotes, via YouTube, explains more:

Alabama Opens Field Offices to Aid Tornado Victims in Getting New ID


The Alabama Department of Public Safety announced earlier this week that it would be opening offices in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa in order to help residents whose driver’s licenses and state ID cards were lost in the tornadoes that struck the state at the end of April.

The offices opened on Tuesday at the Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham and the Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, and are open from 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM every day through Saturday, May 14, for people to obtain temporary documents.

Two forms of ID will be required, including school ID’s or certified records, military ID cards, passports, marriage certificates, Social Security cards, and birth certificates.

Health Insurance Vital to Financial Security


If you’ve ever wondered just how important health insurance really is, consider this: A recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says that families without insurance can only afford to completely pay for about 12% of the hospital stays they may have to have, even when they’re in the higher income brackets. Even worse, the hospital visits that those uninsured folks can’t afford to pay for represent 95 percent of all the monies billed by hospitals.

In addition, some analysts believe that the tally for uncompensated health care for the uninsured is about $73 billion a year, much of which results in higher costs for those people with insurance, and their employers who provide insurance plans.

The report also found that the 50 million people in this country who have no insurance also have no savings. The median financial assets for all uninsured families came in at a mere $20, and even in those families who make good money, assets are sparse. Half of the families who earn 400 percent of the federal poverty level (about $89,400 for a family of four this year) have less than $4,100 in the bank

When you consider that two million uninsured Americans are hospitalized each year, and that fifty-eight percent of those hospital stays are billed at more than $100,000, it’s obvious that there’s a problem here: no insurance, no payments.

Sherry Glied, HHS assistant secretary for planning and evaluation put it this way: “Health insurance is critical in helping protect families from unexpected hospital costs. This report shows that even higher-income uninsured families are struggling to meet the high costs of health care. No family should bear the burden of being one illness or accident away from bankruptcy.”

Consider this the next time you hear any government official making a statement against health insurance. Consider also: what if it were you?

Tornadoes Mean Higher Insurance for NC


Last month’s tornadoes in North Carolina will probably mean a state-wide increase in the cost of homeowners insurance because of the extent of the damage, say insurance industry analysts. That’s the bad news.

The good news (sort of), at least according to the North Carolina Rate Bureau, is that the increase probably won’t even be as much as five percent, and isn’t likely to take effect until 2013.

But the increase probably would be less than 5 percent, and it wouldn’t take affect until at least 2013, according to the North Carolina Rate Bureau.

The other good news – at least for residents of places like Beaver Dam or Fayetteville, where devastation was extensive – is that tornado-related rate increases are calculated on a fifty-year average likelihood of risk, and are NOT location-specific, but spread across the state so instead of some rates going incredibly high, everyone’s rates will get increased just a little bit.

Kerry Hall, a spokesperson for the North Carolina Department of Insurance, the regulating agency for insurance rates, told the press, “We feel that people should not be worried that there will be a huge homeowner’s insurance rate increase because of the tornadoes.”

Update on the Cost of Insuring a Hybrid Vehicle


The question is being raised more and more. Can I get better auto insurance rates on hybrid and EV cars and trucks? Well. No. Right now it is still more expensive to insure a hybrid than their gasoline brethren, although one or two models have broken through the ceiling. Still, the variations in premiums can be startling.

Take the Toyota Highlander SUV AWD. You go for that one and you’re going to spend $348 more for the insurance than with the gas model. So, what’s up with that? Well, according to a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Russ Rader, the insurers are still looking heavily at repair costs.

“Data on insurance claims show that hybrid versions of vehicles typically have higher insurance losses for collision when compared to their gasoline-only counterparts,” said Rader.

What’s the most expensive hybrid on the road to insure? The BMW 750i sedan with an average annual premium of $3,281. I somehow doubt you’re going to save enough on gasoline to make up for that. Of course, if you can afford the BMW in the first place, it may not matter.

The least expensive hybrid to insure? The Mazda tribute at an average annual premium of $1,212, which is actually less than its gas counterpart at $1,163.

So, basically the story says the same on this one. This is an evolving genre of automobile and insurance coverage is evolving with it. Unfortunately, judging from these figures, the insurance evolution is much, much slower.