How to Find the Best Home Insurance

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all home insurance policy in Calgary. Your home is as unique as you are – with possessions, features and value that are not the same as a friend, family or neighbour. Therefore, it is important you have adequate coverage in the event something does happen.

Getting the right coverage is not difficult. In fact, just consulting with a trusted insurance broker in Calgary can help you find the right coverage and premium for your home. It is important, however, that you understand the steps to finding the right level of coverage, so that you can make an informed decision about home insurance in Calgary.

Tips for Finding the Best Homeowner’s Insurance in Calgary, Medicine Hat or Brooks

Not taking the time to find the right level of coverage will cost you. Whether it is when you file a claim or just paying your annual premium, make sure you are truly getting what you are paying for within your home insurance policy.

  • Compare Rates – Never go with the first home insurance policy you find. Instead, compare rates from multiple carriers to see the premiums, deductibles and what level of coverage you get for the price.
  • Compare Insurer Reputations – Unfortunately, there are some insurers out there that do not have the best reputation. These are often the budget insurance companies that hook you with cheap premiums. Just like you compare prices, make the effort to also compare the insurance company’s reputation.
  • Assess Your Risks – Every home is different and depending on where your home is located, your risks may be higher or lower than others. For example, if you live in a flood-prone area, you will want to add flood or water damage coverage to your home insurance in Sherwood Park. Not all policies automatically cover water damage; therefore, it is important to discuss this with your insurance broker.
  • Take a Thorough Inventory – If you want contents coverage or personal property coverage, you need to take a thorough inventory of your home. Write down the items, their estimated value, and replacement costs so that you can pick the right level of insurance coverage to replace those items if they are ever lost, stolen or damaged.
  • Consult Reliable Insurance Brokers – It is hard to estimate on your own how much insurance you need or even what your liabilities may be. So, it is best to speak with an insurance broker who can evaluate your home and help you identify which homeowner’s insurance policy is right for you. An experienced broker can also compare rates from multiple insurance carriers.

Whether you are buying a home or you want to change your coverage, meet with an insurance broker in Calgary today at TSG Insurance. Call us at 403-723-9416 or contact us online for a homeowner’s insurance quote. Or visit us at one of our three offices:

Medicine Hat Home Insurance: 403-526-3283

Calgary Home Insurance: 403-723-9414

Brooks Home Insurance: 403-501-5123

Bassano Home Insurance: 403-641-4988

Edmonton Home Insurance: 780-464-0872

4 Types of Insurance Every University Student Should Have

Like most Canadian university students, you’ve coasted off your parents’ insurance until now. Your job barely paid more than minimum wage, and you lived at home and used your parents’ car. Cost and convenience kept you on your parents’ plan, but now you have a real job and you live at school. You should probably take charge of your own finances now.

This means you need to think about insurance. You might not think you need it, especially if you take public transit and you haven’t had so much as a cold in years. However, if something did happen to you, you probably wouldn’t have enough money to pay for that disaster out of pocket. Insurance would give you a financial safety net in this situation.

Every university student needs the four types of insurance listed below. Make sure you leave enough room for them in your monthly budget.

  1. Health Insurance

As a young person, you probably experience very few medical problems. You have a stronger immune system, stronger metabolism, and overall stronger body than other age groups. You probably haven’t had a real illness in years, and you defeat colds with ease.

Since you manage to stay so healthy, you might think of health insurance as a waste of money. However, a university education can do things to your body that weaken its ability to stay healthy, including:

  • Not sleeping enough: Homework, parties, and other activities can keep you up all night. And the less you sleep, the weaker your immune system becomes. Your body doesn’t have a chance to repair and renew itself, so you become more susceptible to infections.
  • Not eating balanced meals: A poor diet also comes with the university experience. Students subsist off of microwave meals and boxed macaroni and cheese. You’ll eat a lot of carbs, starches, and fats, so you’ll probably gain weight. This weakens your immune system as well, and it puts strain on your organs and systems, leading to all kinds of health problems. For example, these foods could lead to you needing your gallbladder removed.
  • Drinking caffeinated beverages: Caffeinated sodas, coffee, and tea can all have negative effects on your body. Even non-caffeinated sodas and juices can have a detrimental effect, since their acids can wear away at your stomach lining, which could cause ulcers.
  • Not exercising enough: Between class, homework, social activities, eating, laundry, and sleeping, you won’t have a lot of time for exercise. Some students even find that they stop exercising altogether, which leads to weight gain.

You’ll need health insurance just in case these things make you ill. You’ll also need health insurance in case you sustain injuries while hiking, partying, or participating in other activities. So don’t just brush getting this insurance aside—it could seriously help you if something happened.

  1. Renters’ Insurance

Most university students live in rental units during the school year. You don’t have to pay for any repairs or upgrades in the rental unit, so you might assume that you don’t need renters’ insurance.

First, let’s clear up some misconceptions about renters’ insurance. It doesn’t cover repairs unless you caused the damage and would have to pay for them anyway. It does cover other things, such as all the property you store inside your apartment.

Imagine if a thief broke in and stole your TV or laptop. Think about what you would do if your roommate left the stove on and burned the apartment down, destroying all your belongings. You would have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to replace everything you had lost.

If you had renters’ insurance, you wouldn’t have to worry about this expense. Your insurance company would pay for everything for you. Additionally, renters’ insurance doesn’t cost much. You can often bundle it with your car insurance, which makes it even cheaper.

  1. Homeowners’ Insurance

Not every university student lives in a rental unit. Some have enough money to purchase homes. If this situation applies to you, then you shouldn’t procrastinate on getting homeowners’ insurance. Like renters’ insurance, this insurance covers the property inside your home should theft or damage occur. However, home insurance does far more than that.

It also protects the home’s structure and yard from damage or destruction. Homes cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and you don’t want to have to rebuild one.

Students can benefit from their parents’ home owners insurance policies that extends to cover them while they are enrolled in and attending post-secondary education. As soon as they are done, the parents’ home owners insurance no longer covers them. The coverage will vary from one insurer to another so it’s a good idea for students to get advice from their insurance advisor as to what and if their parents’ policy covers them.

Homeowners’ insurance also covers you in case someone sustains injuries on your property. Even if a person just trips on the sidewalk, he or she could still sue you for damages incurred. This insurance will give you a financial safety net if a person like this actually sues.

  1. Automobile Insurance

If you walk or take public transit, then you don’t need this kind of insurance. However, most university students find it useful to own a car. It helps them travel efficiently from place to place, and it gives them the flexibility to go home on weekends. You won’t have to ask anyone for rides to parties or grocery stores.

If you do own a car, you’ll need auto insurance to protect you in case an accident happens. Even if you drive responsibly, someone else could crash into you. And if you accidentally damage someone’s car or property, you’ll need car insurance to protect you from the resulting expenses.

Even if you’re a university student, insurance matters. Talk to your insurance broker a TSG Insurance & Financial Services Ltd. to find the best insurance solutions for you.

For more insurance and financial planning services, please contact our insurance brokers at one of our 3 locations:

Medicine Hat Insurance: 403.526.3283

Brooks Insurance: 403.501.5123

Calgary Insurance: 403.723.9416

Save Money With Insurance

In today’s economy, it’s often necessary to clip coupons and pinch pennies to stay financially stable.

You may have to cut back on dining out or limit your movie ticket purchases to once a month instead of once a week. Or perhaps, you need to cancel your magazine and newspaper subscriptions in favor of free online sources. And in some cases, you may have to completely forego some of your more expensive activities such as skiing or traveling.

However, if there’s one thing you shouldn’t cut back on, it’s insurance.  Health insurance, car insurance, and home insurance offer necessary protection in times of emergency. Additionally, some insurance is required by law—and if you don’t have it, you have to pay penalty fees.

While you can’t cut back on insurance, you can lower your monthly premiums so you don’t have to pay as much for the same amount of coverage. As a reward for good behavior or loyalty, many companies offer the following discounts, so you can save money on a regular basis.

Good Student Discount

Are you going to school? You may qualify for a discount if you get good grades. The good student discount can apply to younger teens just learning to drive as well as older students still working toward their degrees.

In most cases, the only requirements are that students must maintain a certain grade average and that they provide transcripts as evidence.

Good Driving Discount

Insurance companies love good drivers. The longer you drive without getting in an accident or receiving a ticket, the more money you save for the company—and those savings get passed onto you!

In some cases, the discount increases when you maintain a clean driving record for a set number of years. Sometimes this discount is worked into your rate automatically, while in other cases you may need to ask if you qualify and double-check with your insurance provider to see if the discount is being applied.

Hybrid or Electric Vehicle Discount

Going green with a hybrid or electric vehicle isn’t just great for the environment; it’s also great for your budget. Electric and hybrid vehicles get more miles per the gallon, and in some cases, it can give you a discount on your insurance premium.

Just make sure that your vehicle is identified by the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Insurance companies use an assigned code to approve your car as eco-friendly.

Safety Features Discount

Insurance companies offer discounts for vehicles with a variety of different safety features, such as anti-lock brakes and airbags. Some companies also offer discounts for approved anti-theft devices installed on your car, so long as these devices are approved.

This discount is great if you own a newer car with these features already installed. However, you can still qualify for this discount if you pay to install approved after-market items. Keep in mind that each provider has a different list of qualifying safety features, so ask your company about potential discounts before installing any new equipment.

Multi-Policy Discount

If you have more than one car, then it helps to insure both vehicles through the same company. While you’ll still have to pay insurance for both cars, many companies offer a discount if you have two cars on one policy. Additionally, some insurance companies offer both home and auto insurance, so you could bundle your policy together into one bill.

Longevity Discount

Savvy shoppers know they can switch their insurance provider to snag the latest, most exciting deal available. Comparing quotes and prices will ensure that you have the most coverage for your budget.

However, many companies would prefer that you stay with them for a long time, and they reward that loyalty with additional discounts. Better still, you don’t have to do anything extra to qualify for these discounts—simply stick with your original provider.

Senior Discount

Senior drivers are less likely to get in an accident than teenage drivers. Consequently, many insurance companies offer discounts for senior members over 50.

You may need to brush up on your driving skills by completing and passing a defensive driving course, but the discounts will be worth it.

Don’t forget to ask about a possible low-mileage discount. Many retired seniors cut back on their driving time, so you may be able to save money if you stay under a certain mileage cap per year.

Ask About Available Discounts

These discounts are a great way to save money on your monthly premiums. But, remember that some discounts are only available at certain insurance companies, so you may have to shop around before you find a good policy for you.

If you’re not sure which discounts are available or if you qualify for these discounts, ask your insurance company for more information. You might be able to save hundreds of dollars each year—so don’t wait!

How Do Hybrid Vehicles Impact Insurance?

As you search for a new or used vehicle, you might stop and look over a hybrid car. With their sleek builds and high kilometers per gallon, hybrid cars look like the ideal way to save money on gas and protect the environment at the same time. It’s a win-win situation, right?

However, if you have a tight budget, a hybrid’s initial price tag might scare you away. And even if you can afford the initial purchase, the insurance premiums could make a significant dent in your wallet, counteracting any savings you may have saved on fuel.

Just what makes insuring a hybrid so expensive? What can you do to get a lower premium?

Factors Specific to Hybrids

Insurance rates and premiums depend on multiple factors. Some of these factors include:

Labor Costs

Hybrid cars use cutting-edge engines with state-of-the-art electronic components. Because of their complexity, hybrid cars require specialists to maintain and repair these key parts. Some estimate that it costs almost $200 more to repair a hybrid once it has been in an auto accident.

This might not seem like a lot to you, but insurance companies have to account for thousands of vehicles. If each were involved in an accident, the expenses could become astronomical. Because of this, many insurance companies hike up their rates for hybrid cars.

But don’t despair.

As more drivers turn to hybrid vehicles, more technicians will specialize in repairing hybrid vehicles. With time, the cost in labor will drop to about the same price as gas-fuelled vehicles.

Parts Costs

As with labor costs, the cost of replacement parts for hybrid vehicles is often higher than other cars on the market. Compared to gas engine vehicles, hybrid cars and trucks are still relatively new. This means that scrap yards have a limited supply of aftermarket parts. As a result, repair technicians often have to increase prices for used parts, or (more often than not) rely on completely new parts to repair the damage.

These higher bills go straight to your insurance company, so it’s understandable that they’d increase the premiums to cover the costs for a new “replace oxygen” sensor or missing gas cap.

Model Specifications

Much like gas-fuelled cars, some hybrid car makes and models are more expensive than others. For example, the 2014 Honda Insight Hybrid only costs $19,515 (USD), while the 2014 Vokswagen Touareg hybrid costs as much as $64,745 (USD).

While more affordable hybrid cars can have insurance rates similar to a gas-fuelled car, the more luxurious hybrids will have the higher rates. The more expensive the car, the more money the insurance companies will have to dish out to cover the cost of an accident. To cover the cost, they charge higher rates.

Drivers

While some factors increase insurance rates, other factors can also lower them by a fraction. Many people view hybrid drivers as conscientious people less likely to get in an accident. They seem to be more mature and responsible behind the wheel, which insurance companies love. The safer the driver, the less money they have to spend.

Because of this stereotype, some insurance companies offer up to 10 percent discounts on premiums. So you’ll want to keep an eye out for these discounts should you decide to purchase a hybrid.

Factors Specific to You

In addition to those specific to hybrids, the following factors can impact your insurance premiums, whether you drive a hybrid or any other type of car.

Driving Record

Safer drivers cost insurance companies less money than reckless ones because they tend to be involved in fewer accidents. If you have a clean driving record, free of traffic and moving violations, you’ll likely have a lower premium than if you had collection of parking tickets stashed in your dash.

Age

Younger drivers often lack the skills, knowledge, and maturity to properly handle dangerous situations. They are also more likely to speed and tend to neglect their seatbelts. This combination puts them at risk for accidents, which insurance companies frown upon. In fact, individuals 16-19 are more at risk of becoming involved in an accident than any other age group.

However, drivers between the age of 50 and 65 tend to get the best insurance rates. Drivers at this age tend to be more cautious, understand traffic laws, and take fewer risks while driving. This means fewer costs for the insurance company, and they pass those savings back to you.

Coverage

While each province sets a minimum coverage level, it’s up to you as a consumer to determine if you should purchase additional coverage for your car. You could select minimum coverage to lower your monthly rates, but additional coverage could give you more protection if you become involved in an accident.

How Can You Get the Best Rates?

Because these factors play a significant role in your insurance rates and premiums, it’s important that you seek advice from a professional insurance agency to get the best rates and deals. Some insurance brokers can offer various packages that will balance coverage with cost. With the right company, you can enjoy the benefits of a hybrid, without sacrificing your savings to cover your premiums.

For more information on insurance premiums, rates and car insurance in Calgary, Brooks & Medicine Hat call TSG Insurance & Financial Services Ltd today or visit one of our three locations:

Calgary Insurance: 403.526.3283

Brooks Insurance: 403.501.5123

Medicine Hat Insurance: 403.723.9416

What’s an RESP? The Smart Path to Your Child’s Registered Education Savings Plan

Education, it seems, is an increasingly critical commodity. As a parent, you hear a lot of advice on the subject. Even though all the data suggest it’s time to begin saving for your child’s future education, you may feel overwhelmed. Where should you start?

Before you jump in to a savings education plan, prepare yourself by learning the key details to a successful RESP.

Define the Plan

On a basic level, a Registered Education Savings Plan, or RESP, functions as a tax-deferred account. In this way, it’s not unlike your retirement account or any other tax-deferred plan. Here’s an overview:

  1. The plan involves a subscriber, a promoter, and a beneficiary. The subscriber is the person who contributes to the account (usually the parent). The promoter is the party that pays the income to the beneficiary, or child.
  2. The plan is registered via the Canada Revenue Agency.After the plan begins, the Income Tax Act limits the total contribution to a $50,000 maximum per beneficiary.
  3. Learning bonds provide for low-income families. This is a supplementary contribution by the government. It contributes up to $2,000 maximum to those families who qualify (e.g., families who make less than $35,000).
  4. The subscriber can enter funds for several beneficiaries.In this way, the RESP contract allows the provider to pay education savings payments to multiple children, simplifying the process for the parent(s).
  5. There are multiple RESP types.You may choose a family plan, as just mentioned, or an individual plan. Additionally, you can decide to enter funds intermittently, monthly, or using another pre-determined schedule.

Understand the Details

Because each family’s situation is unique, so is your RESP. Some families begin saving for their children’s education costs early; others begin when their children are teens. The important thing is to start where you are now.

Did you know that you can make contributions to your child’s RESP up to 31 years after initiating the plan? Additionally, you can consolidate several RESPs even after 31 years have passed. The only stipulation is that your child uses the payments before the 35th year is over.

Here are a few other strategies that may yield greater benefits later:

  • If you contribute $2,500 annually starting in your child’s birth year, you may net the maximum contribution for the RESP by your child’s 18th birthday.
  • Even if you wait until your child is 10 or 11 to start the account, you may still net close to $40,000 for the same annual investment.
  • If you contribute an extra, one-time lump sum annually, you’ll compound the tax benefit.

Ask Good Questions

As you begin a RESP for your child or children, pay attention to the notices and updates you get on your account. Stay involved and up-to-date all along the way so you don’t have any unintended surprises later. Most importantly, ask questions when you’re unsure about the regulations.

Here are a few questions and answers that can help you during the saving years:

Q: What do I do if there are unused savings in the RESP after 35 years?

A: Don’t worry; any leftover savings will be returned to the subscriber. Grant moneys are returned to the government. If you’ve earned interest, you’ll get that if you’re a Canadian resident who opened the plan more than 10 years prior—and if your child is 21 or older and ineligible for educational assistance payments.

Q: What if my child doesn’t go to college after all?

A: It’s possible your child may change his or her mind; you have up to the 35-year limit past the opening of the plan. If your child’s plans don’t change, feel free to transfer the money to another RESP (ask ahead to know if there are penalties involved).

Q: Can I add another child to an existing plan?

A: Yes, but your child must be a blood relative or adopted. Additionally, your child should already be a listed beneficiary in a different RESP and be under age 21. If the beneficiary is not adopted or related to you by blood, you will be required to repay any applicable government bonds and grants.

Consult a Specialist

Finally, you don’t have to go it alone, even if you feel prepared to do so. Your financial planner is a capable ally who knows all the details behind Registered Education Savings Plans. He or she wants to prepare you first so you’ll avoid disruptions as time goes by.

Another benefit to working with a finance and insurance professional is the fact that all your investments are taken care of in one place. When you’re trying to balance your retirement savings plan with your segregated funds and other tax-free accounts, it helps to know all of those can be managed by people you trust.

Congratulations on making a great financial future for yourself and your children. With your help, their future RESP benefits are assured. Talk to your financial professional today at TSG Insurance & Financial Services Ltd.

Calgary Insurance: 403.526.3283

Brooks Insurance: 403.501.5123

Medicine Hat Insurance: 403.723.9416

Bassano Insurance: 403-641-4988

Edmonton Insurance: 780-464-0872