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Insurance Checklist for the New Year

I almost feel like we are going into an episode of The Jetson’s as we enter into 2020. And, as an insurance agent, I’m wondering where all of the flying cars and houses on the moon are…

But, on a serious note, the start of a new year is always a great time to reevaluate your insurance needs since your life probably changed during the past year, which may require an updated insurance policy. For example, perhaps you got married, had a baby, purchased a new house and/or car.

So, I always suggest to my insureds that if they did have any life changes, they set up a time to chat with any of us at Langlois Insurance Agency to review your policies to ensure that they meet your current needs. We can help you determine if your coverage is adequate or if changes should be made.

Life Insurance

Life Insurance should be reviewed on a yearly basis. Life inevitably brings changes, such as a births, divorces, remarriages or even a new mortgage or new job. And, all of these are signs that you might need to make changes to your life insurance policy. So, as we enter into 2020, please call me at #815-485-2106 to make certain that your loved ones are properly covered with adequate life insurance.

Homeowners & Rental Insurance

The start of a new year is also a great time to update your home inventory and make sure your homeowners or rental policy is up-to-date.

Here’s a tip that I like to give my insureds – every January, take your video camera and/or phone camera and record all the contents in your home. Take extra care in getting photos or video of your prized possessions. Remember to note valuable antiques, artwork or jewelry so we can help determine if you are properly covered.

Auto Insurance

Have you purchased a new car? Or, have you had any changes to your driving habits? If so, it is important to review this with any of us at Langlois Insurance Agency to ensure your auto policy will cover you in case of an accident.

Health Insurance

You may have recently enrolled or changed your health insurance whether through your employer, Medicare or your state exchange. Make sure you have new insurance cards and paperwork before you visit a doctor. We can also discuss if you need Medicare Supplement Insurance and the benefits that come with it. It is our privilege to help guide you to the best possible Medicare Supplement Insurance plan to meet your insurance needs.

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft and Fraudulent Activity

Did you know that the Equifax data breach of 2017 exposed the personal information of more than 145 million people. A data breach can potentially expose your data, which puts you at risk for identity theft or other fraudulent activity. Here are some tips on how you can protect your identity in the coming year:

• Don’t give out any personal information–like your social security number or bank information–over the phone.

• Consider purchasing identity theft insurance. If this is something that interests you, please let any of us at Langlois Insurance Agency know and we can discuss this further with you.

We hope that 2020 brings you and your loved ones much health and happiness. And, as always, if you have any questions about your insurance needs, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at #815-485-2106.  We always love to hear from our customers!

Warmest Regards in the New Year,

Matt Langlois

6 Ways to Protect Personal Information Online

As you can tell from my photo, I do quite a bit of online shopping during the holiday season. It’s quick, convenient, and gets delivered right to my office and/or home. Win-win-win! But, I do know that ordering items online isn’t without some risks.

In fact, it seems as though every time I turn on the news, I hear about a large data breach, which has exposed millions of customers’ personal data to criminals. So, with the hype around Black Friday & Cyber Monday, I wanted to share a few tips for you to ensure that your personal information doesn’t end up in the hands of criminals.

Create Strong Passwords

When you create your online passwords, it is wise to not use words or numbers that a cybercriminal can easily crack, such as your birthday. Instead, choose combinations of lower & upper case letters, random numbers, as well as some symbols. And, it is always a good idea to change them periodically.

Don’t Overshare on Social Media

I may have been guilty of oversharing on social media once or twice. But, Cybersecurity experts note that oversharing on social media can put your personal information at risk. Take a moment to check your privacy settings so you know exactly who is seeing your posts – and only have close friends & family view your posts. In addition, it is wise to never post your exact location, hometown, birthday, or other personal information.

Use Free Wi-Fi with Caution

Did you know that most free public Wi-Fi networks have very few security measures in place? This means others around you, that are using the same network, can (and will) monitor your activity. So, best practice is to wait until you are at home on a very secure, password protected, network.

Watch Out for Links & Attachments

This is a biggie – what our Cybersecurity Experts tell us is that Cybercriminals will compose phishing scams to look like legitimate communications from a bank, utility company, etc…How can you tell if it’s a cyberscam or the real deal? Certain things like spelling errors are a dead giveaway.  Also, check out the email address from the sender. If it is different that the senders address, this is a good clue that the email is a spam.  When in doubt, call the customer service line for that sender to verify if their email request is legit!

Check to See if the Website is Secure

Before you enter personal information into a website, check your browser. There should be a “lock” symbol and the URL should begin with “https”. If the site you are visiting has both of these, it means that the site is secure.  There are also a few other ways to determine if the site is secure:

  • Review their website privacy policy
  • Review their contact information
  • Check for a “Verified Secure” seal

You Can Always Consider Additional Protection

Most Cybersecurity Experts recommend installing anti-virus software, anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall. There is also always cyber insurance, which can keep you and your family safe if you ever fall victim to an attack. If this is something that you would like to discuss further, please don’t hesitate to give any of us a call at Langlois Insurance Agency at #815-485-2106. We are more than happy to discuss this beneficial coverage with you.

As always, if you ever have any questions or comments on any of your insurance needs, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.  We always love to hear from our customers!

Warmest Regards,

Matt Langlois

It’s Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Season…

Did you know that it is now Open Enrollment Season for Individual Health Insurance? During this Open Enrollment Season, Langlois Insurance Agency can assist you with renewing, updating and comparing your health insurance plan to see if Medicare Supplement Insurance is the right fit for your needs.

One question that we often get asked is, “When Is Open Enrollment for Medicare Supplement Insurance?

Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. Please note that this does NOT apply to Medigap plans, which don’t have an annual open enrollment period. Medigap plans are only available without medical underwriting during your initial six month enrollment period.

Timeline for Open Enrollment:
Nov. 1, 2019: Open Enrollment starts — first day you can enroll, re-enroll, or change a 2019 insurance plan. Coverage can start as soon as Jan. 1, 2020.

Dec. 15, 2019: The last day to enroll in or change plans for coverage to start Jan. 1, 2020. After this date, you can enroll or change plans only if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

Jan. 1, 2020: Coverage for the year starts for those who enroll or change plans by Dec. 15, 2019.

What information do I need to apply for Medicare Supplement Insurance?

Whether applying for the first time of renewing your coverage, there are a few pieces of information that you should bring into Langlois Insurance Agency in order to fill out your application:

• Social security numbers, date of birth for you and whoever will be on your plan.
• An understanding of plan for your medical needs for the year, including a list of current medications.
• The names of any doctors you would like to have in your network.

All of us at Langlois Insurance Agency understand that life is full of important choices. So, please let us help you make the right choice for your Medicare Supplement Insurance.

As a local insurance agency, we have been serving our community for more than 35 years. And, we offer Medicare Supplement Insurance plans with in-depth coverage to help you protect your health.

Please contact us at #815-485-2106 to learn more about Medicare Supplement Insurance and the benefits that come with it. It is our privilege to help guide you to the best possible insurance program to meet all your insurance needs. Or, you can schedule an appointment with one of our Health Insurance specialists online HERE. Please don’t hesitate to contact us — we always love to hear from our customers!

Warmest Regards,
Matt Langlois

Space Heater Safety Tips

As many of you are aware, Langlois Insurance Agency is located in a beautiful 1897 Victorian in New Lenox, IL. We love this building and all of the character & charm that comes with it.  What we don’t love, is the insulation. During the frigid midwestern winters, it gets cooooold in here!  So, we do rely on space heaters throughout the building.

I am aware that many of my customers also use space heaters throughout their homes in order to combat the cold. So, I wanted to share with you a few Space Heater Safety Tips to avoid any fires and/or injuries from occurring.

Space Heater Safety Tips

1) Did you know that space heaters should have certification labels on them? This ensures that they were tested in a laboratory for safety. According to Consumer Reports, “Make sure the heater you buy carries a safety certification label from an independent testing organization, such as the UL mark, the ETL label from Intertek, or certification from CSA International.”

2) Read the instructions and warning labels prior to using a space heater. In addition, you should choose a space heater that automatically shuts off when it overheats.

3) Choose a space heater with a tip-over switch that does the same if the heater is knocked over. And, remember, place the heater on a hard, level, and nonflammable surface. Space heaters are intended to sit on the floor, and never on a table.

4) Do not use a space heater that has a frayed or damaged electrical cord. In addition, space heaters should not be plugged into an extension cord. Instead, they should be plugged into a wall outlet.

5) Never leave a space heater running when no one is in the room. Unplug space heaters that are not being utilized.

6) Turn off the space heater when leaving the house or going to sleep.

7) Remember that space heaters should only be used temporarily.

8) Do not put items or materials within three feet of a space heater. It is a good idea to establish a 3-foot kid & pet-free zone around the heater.  We also recommend to never put a space heater in a child’s room.

9) And, perhaps the most important tip — if you do decide to use space heaters, make certain that you have installed working smoke alarms on every level of your home and in every bedroom, and test them monthly.

As always, if you have any questions about this blog, or any of your insurance needs, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at #815-485-2106.  We always love to hear from our customers!

Warmest Regards,

Matt Langlois

 

Term and Whole Life Insurance: Explained

Unless you are a life insurance specialist, like me, life insurance is nobody’s favorite subject of conversation. Most people associate life insurance with expensive monthly premiums and, more importantly, their own mortality. For that reason, many people aren’t sure how life insurance works, or what their options are. However, thinking about your life insurance policy is very important! It is intended to lessen the impact of death on your loved ones, and it doesn’t even have to be expensive. Below, we discuss the major differences between term life insurance and whole life insurance to help you determine which one may be best for you.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is a simpler, cheaper type of life insurance that’s a great way to institute a policy without having to cut too deep into monthly expenses. Term life is purchased for a specific time period, anywhere from 5 to 30 years. Death benefits will only be paid if the death occurs during the term of the policy. More often than not, term life will become much more expensive as you age. After the age of 50, the cost of term life quickly creeps up to the cost of permanent life insurance, so you should look into getting it sooner rather than later. Also, these policies can also be converted into whole life insurance in some cases, which is another option if you feel like it may be the time to consider whole life.

Whole Life

Term life insurance covers you for a set period of time, while whole life does exactly what you’d expect: it covers you for your whole life. Not only does it provide death benefits when the time comes, but it also provides a cash value accumulation that builds during the life of the policy. This means that you can actually see payoffs of your premium at a certain time, sort of similar to a retirement policy with your employer. It usually takes anywhere from 12 to 15 years to build up a considerable cash value. This cash value is based on how much the return on investment is worth.

Acquiring a whole life policy does usually mean a medical examination, but this is not always the case. Sometimes, with a higher premium, whole life insurance can be purchased without a health examination. This type of insurance works great for estate planning, and although it is initially more expensive, you can potentially save money through whole life insurance in the long run. Be sure to see what works best for your finances by speaking with a risk advisor today.

Choosing What’s Right

There are many different factors to take into account when deciding what kind of life insurance is right for you. When you come into Langlois Insurance Agency to discuss the best life insurance “fit” for your needs, we will consider several factors:

  • Your current age
  • State of health
  • Financial needs (for yourself and family)
  • Plans for funeral and death expenses
  • Children’s ages
  • Long-term health expenses
  • Mortgage and current debts
  • Retirement plan
  • Future monetary needs of your children
  • Your estate
  • Your thoughts on paying a full term policy and never receiving the value of it

Although that may be a long list, factoring in as much as possible is important because life insurance is a big investment. Give our agency a call today at #815-485-2106 so we can help find you the best policy for you and your family. We always love to hear from our customers!

Warmest Regards,

Matt Langlois

4 Steps to Protect Backseat Passengers

Man, I look back at these old photos of my babies when they were in their car seats as newborns and so many feelings flood through me. I remember being so nervous about bringing these newborn babies home. In a car. In a car seat. I mean, what if I got into an accident. Would their car seat hold up? Would they be OK?

Studies show that the safest place for your child to ride in the car is the backseat. However, simply riding in the backseat isn’t enough to ensure your passengers’ safety. Certain precautions should still be taken for both children and adults riding in the back to reduce their risks of injury or death.

Aim For Buying a Newer Vehicle

When you’re in the market for a vehicle, keep backseat passengers in mind. The average car on the road is 11 years old, but there have been many advancements in car safety just within the last decade. Some particularly old cars aren’t even equipped with headrests, which are key to protecting passengers’ necks from whiplash. However, many newer models come with safety features just for the backseat, like side airbags and inflatable seat belts. Buying used is the budget-friendly way to go, but try to get a car that is at least fewer than 10 years old if you can.

Secure the Kids

Being equipped with the proper restraints is the most important factor in child passenger safety. Determine whether your child needs a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt based on his or her age, weight, and height. Not sure what to trust? Use this handy page from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to determine which restraints are best for protecting your child passenger.

Put Them In The Middle

Believe it or not, the middle seat is the safest seat in the entire car. It offers the most distance from impact during a collision, so the middle passenger is more likely to be protected from a crash in any direction. Just make sure the passenger is wearing a 3-point seatbelt. If a lap belt is the only option, they’re better off sitting in a window seat.

No Distracted Driving!

This one seems so obvious, but distracted driving is still the number one cause of car accidents in the U.S. It is always valuable to remember that activities like talking on the phone, texting, reading, grooming, or eating compromise the safety of you and your passengers.

Remember these tips when you’re buying a car, picking out a carseat for a child, or just running an errand with a friend. The backseat is known as the “safe seat,” but there are definitely measures you can take to make it even safer and protect the ones you love. Make sure you’re covered in case of an accident or injury with the right insurance plans!

As always, please don’t hesitate to call us with Langlois Insurance Agency at #815-485-2106 to discuss your insurance and coverage options. We always love to hear from our customers!

Warmest Regards,

Matt Langlois

Congrats to Toni Eberhart

Langlois Insurance Agency is excited to welcome Toni Eberhart as our newest Independent Insurance Agent. In order to become a licensed agent, Toni underwent 20 hours of pre-licensing classes and a difficult Illinois state exam. After passing with flying colors, Toni is now able to sell both Property and Casualty insurance in the state of Illinois. Congratulations Toni!

“We are looking forward to having Toni on board at Langlois Insurance Agency.  She offers exceptional customer service and we know she will be such an asset to our customers and our agency,” notes Matt Langlois, owner of Langlois Insurance Agency.

Toni will be working with our current customers, as well as new customers to Langlois Insurance Agency. And, fun fact – when she is not selling insurance, Toni loves to hang out with her family and go out on the river on their boat. Her favorite thing to do is attend her son’s football games — especially the home games at Lincolnway Central!

In fact, in the short period that she has been here, Toni has already done a wonderful job issuing policies to new customers:

Langlois Insurance Agency is a second-generation family business founded by Darrell L. Langlois in 1983. Matt Langlois joined forces with his father in 2000 and has been able to grow the agency by adding additional carriers and increasing agency staff, all in an effort to serve you better. Although we are growing, at our heart we are still a locally-owned and operated family business dedicated to providing friendly and professional service.

Langlois Insurance Agency is an Independent Insurance Agency which represents an average of ten insurance companies. We thoroughly research these companies to find you the best combination of price, coverage, and service. We work for you the customer, not the insurance company!

It is our privilege to help guide you to the best possible insurance program to meet all your insurance needs. Please take a minute to search our website and let us know how we can serve you. See for yourself the excellent insurance value we have to offer!

Langlois Insurance Agency is located at 200 West Maple Street in New Lenox, IL.  We can be contacted at #815-485-2106.  We always love hearing from our customers!

Warmest Regards,

Matt Langlois

4 Tips For How to Handle a Hit and Run

As an insurance agent, I get many calls regarding car accidents.  Some of the most distressing to me are when your valued customer has been involved in a hit & run accident. Most of the time, collisions happen when you least expect it whether you are driving or parked. While the right thing is for both drivers to step out of the car and handle the situation, some have other ideas and try to flee from the scene. <This is when I would insert the angry face emoji>

This is always shocking and highly upsetting, but you can still be prepared for it by following these steps:

Call the Authorities

It’s understandable that you might be shaken up from the collision so it’s wise to take a moment to assess the situation. Once everything is clear, call the authorities immediately to let them know what happened. If you wait too long, the police may not be able to track down the perpetrator in time. You will also need a descriptive account of the situation when you file your claim, so make sure you get in touch with any of us here at Langlois Insurance Agency soon, while the incident is still fresh in your memory.

Get As Much Information As You Can

This may not be a simple task since the vehicle is on the move, but it is still possible to gather enough information for a claim. Your first plan of action should be to get the license plate number of the perpetrator, if possible. Also try to determine the make, model, and year of the car. If their vehicle has any damage, take note of that too so they can be tracked down easier. Also take note of which way the vehicle went to give others a starting point. After you have all the information down about the other driver, focus on your car next. Like with any collision, you have to document the entire event. Where the location was, where it happened, how it happened, etc. Then take photos/videos of your car. This documentation will help with any possible insurance claim later on.

Stay at the Scene

While it may be tempting to go follow the person that hit your car, you are actually putting yourself in a bad position if you do this. You will need witnesses when filing your claim. If, however, you flee the scene, you could lose this opportunity to speak with others who provide valuable information that you need.

Be Patient

Like with any collision, there will be a lot to handle in the aftermath. You may need someone to come tow your car depending on how severe the damage is, and making a claim is not a quick process. While it might be a frustrating time, be patient while everything gets sorted out. Talk with your loved ones to make any necessary arrangements and let everything work itself out over time.

The last thing you need after a hit and run is a massive bill to pay. Luckily, with the right coverage plan, you don’t have to worry. Give our office a call today and get in touch with our professional staff who can find you the insurance plan you need in case of any accidents down the road.

And, as always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to any of us at Langlois Insurance Agency with any questions.  We always love to hear from our customers!

Warmest Regards,

Matt Langlois

Why You Need an Annual Insurance Review

As we begin each New Year, many of us make New Year’s resolutions that we may (or may not) keep. Eating healthy. Exercising more. Spending more time with loved ones seem to be some of the most popular resolutions. As your trusted insurance advisor, I would like to offer up another New Year’s resolution that is just as beneficial and important: An Annual Insurance Review.

As we enter into 2019, this is the perfect time to set up a meeting with me to review all your insurance coverage. Some of the benefits of reviewing your insurance on an annual basis include the following:

We Can Reassess Your Home’s Value

Most people take out an insurance policy when they buy their home and then renew that policy each year. Unfortunately, automatically renewing your insurance policy does not ensure you have sufficient coverage.
Your home value may have increased over the years. For example, if you bought your house for $250k and now it’s worth $300k, you have a $50k coverage gap. If you experience a total loss and need to rebuild, your policy may not be sufficient due to this $50K coverage gap. Therefore, it is always important to reassess your home’s value periodically to ensure proper protection.

Updated Home Inventory

I love this tip!

Did you know that most homeowners underestimate the value of their possessions? Therefore, preparing an inventory of all the possessions in your home before your annual insurance review is an excellent way to approximate value.

There are many mobile and desktop “apps” that allow you to photograph, record, and find items of comparable value. Personally, what I do, is take my iPhone and walk around my home and garage “videoing” all of my possessions. Save it to the cloud. Done.

Providing your inventory during your annual insurance review ensures sufficient, appropriate coverage, especially for specialty high value items. For example, you may need additional coverage for expensive musical instruments, collectible artwork, fine jewelry, antiques, high-end sports equipment, or audio/computer equipment – so make sure to tell your us know if you have any high value items in your dwelling.

Make Certain Your Life Insurance Policies are Adequate

Life Insurance is so important to ensure that you and your loved ones are properly protected. And, I strongly believe that your life insurance should be reviewed yearly to make certain that adequate protection is in place.

It is very understandable that, when looking into investing in insurance, you don’t want it to cost you an arm and leg. While the coverage is important to have, you want it to fit comfortably into your budget. One of the main reasons people turn down life insurance is this belief that it’s too expensive, but that is not necessarily the case. According to a study performed by Life Happens, approximately 80% of people misjudge how costly life insurance truly is. In fact, plans such as term life insurance are more affordable than you might think. Plus, you can always change or add coverages to your plan over time. If you’re on a budget, please give anyone at Langlois Insurance Agency a call to see what plan works best for you.

Qualify for Discounts

Discounts – one of my customers favorite words!

Many home improvements can reduce your insurance premium. Therefore, it is important to tell me about these home improvements. For instance, a roof replacement, security system, sprinkler system, and other additions often reduce your insurance premium.

Often times, during an annual insurance review, I discover many ways to reduce premiums. Or, we can look for ways to bundle your coverage for an overall lower cost.

Discover Unknown Benefits

During an annual review, we can review your insurance coverage, limits, and exclusions. From here, I can recommend what’s best for your particular needs and budget. Tailoring your insurance policy boosts coverage where you need it, and reduces it where you don’t. It can lower costs, because you’re not paying for unnecessary coverage.
And, your policy may also include benefits you didn’t even realize you have. For instance, some policies cover a child’s possessions while they’re living in a dorm room or replacing the food in your freezer after a power outage. It may protect you if your dog bites someone on your property. It could also protect belongings while traveling. It’s always good to review exactly what is covered in your policy!

If you are interested in an annual review, please don’t hesitate to give any of us a call at Langlois Insurance Agency #815-485-2106. We always love to hear from our customers!

Warmest Regards,
Matt Langlois

Why you should purchase Life Insurance for your Children

This photo was taken of my son Andrew when he was two years old. We had a family friend, who is also a talented photographer, come to our house to take these photos of our family.

Why?

Because this was the day before my son was going to start chemotherapy for a cancer that he developed at 18 months of age. And my wife and I wanted photos of our son “before” chemo.

Six years later, our son is doing amazingly well. He is thriving and we are beyond grateful.

But, because of his illness, he will (most likely) never be able to have a Life Insurance policy as an adult to help protect his loved ones. As an insurance agent, I wish I had of properly protected him with the gift of a Life Insurance policy when he first came into this world. But, you know, hindsight is 20/20…

Because of this life altering experience, I am now a strong advocate that parents should purchase life insurance policies for their children at a very early age.

Reason #1 – A life insurance policy provides money for the funeral and other expenses that would occur in the tragic event of a child’s death. In addition, there would be funds for family counseling and medical bills, as well as money that is necessary for the family to get by if the parents decide to take a leave from work.

Reason #2 – It allows a child to be able to qualify for life insurance later in as an adult. Many people don’t know this, but a child who develops a medical problem early in life can have issues qualifying for coverage as an adult. If you purchase life insurance for your child now, you are guaranteeing the child has some coverage and can purchase more life insurance when they reach adulthood, regardless of their health status.

Reason #3 – There is also a savings component of a permanent life insurance policy, called cash value, which grows tax-deferred. The policy owner can borrow against the cash value or surrender the policy for the money (less a possible surrender fee). The cash could be used for anything, including college expenses. A whole life insurance policy guarantees a certain percentage return on the cash value and compares well with other conservative savings vehicles like CDs.

The policy that I normally recommend is a permanent life insurance policy, such as whole life. These policies are generally for smaller face amounts ($50,000 or less). This type of permanent life insurance policy provides coverage for your child’s entire life and includes a savings account that gradually builds value over time. As a result, the premiums are usually more affordable that a term life insurance policy.

I always tell my customers, friends — really anyone that will listen — that life insurance gives you options. The more life insurance you purchase, the more options you have.

So, you can rest easy with financial security. And, really, there is nothing more precious than your family’s security. That is why having the right amount of life insurance – for both you and your children – is so important. A good life insurance policy can offer you peace of mind and be the cornerstone of your individual financial plan for the future.

Let me help you.

Langlois Insurance Agency specializes in life insurance, mainly because I strongly believe that it is so important. I can help you select the right amount of life insurance benefits to ensure your family is properly protected…and will do it at a premium that you can afford and are comfortable with.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me at #815-485-2107 with any questions about Life Insurance. I always love to hear from my customers!

Warmest Regards,

Matt Langlois