Is It Smart to Update Your Auto Policy Once You Own the Vehicle Outright?

When you have an auto loan out on your vehicle your lender will typically require a certain level of insurance coverage. Many people believe that it’s a good idea to drop certain coverages when they have paid off their loan and own the vehicle outright. At Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance we believe that our clients in the greater Peoria, AZ area should consider all of the implications of such a move prior to lowering their coverage. While your coverage will likely decrease in cost once you pay off your loan, it is not always wise to lower your insurance protection levels.

How Paying Off Your Car Loan Can Affect Your Insurance

After you have paid off your car loan you will likely notice a decrease in your policy cost. While this not always the case, it is a typical experience for many car owners. Because there are certain coverage levels that are instituted by your lender, you may be tempted to move away from those standards once your loan is paid off. This decision is best evaluated on a case-by-case basis, as every situation is different. There are a number of different factors to consider, such as vehicle replacement coverage and liability protection. If your auto is older and a replacement vehicle would exceed its value, it’s important to have the appropriate coverage level. Likewise for liability insurance, as this need does not change whether your own your car or not.

Residents in the greater Peoria, AZ area are encouraged to contact the team at Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance today to learn more about their auto insurance options. Whether you own your vehicle or carry a loan, we can help you determine which policy is right for you.

Mexico Insurance and US Rental Cars

You might think that US rental cars automatically come insured, but you need your own liability insurance to cover them. That includes trips to Mexico requiring Mexico insurance. This blog from Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance explains what insurance you’ll need to rent a car you drive in Mexico.

Just as each state has its own insurance requirements, so does each country. US car insurance does not cover you driving on Mexico’s roads, so if you want to road trip across the border from Peoria, AZ or any other location, you need what US carriers refer to as Mexico insurance. That’s auto insurance coverage that meets Mexico’s requirements.

If you plan to drive across the border or rent a car while in Mexico, you will need a Mexico insurance policy. Many factors influence the cost of this type of policy.

  • Policies vary by carrier, so some Mexico policies cover autos, RVs and motorcycles.
  • Some policies only cover travel within a specific distance of the US border.
  • The length of time of the policy.
  • If the policy also includes legal assistance and bail coverage.
  • If the driver needs coverage for theft and vandalism, too.

Mexican auto insurance covers many of the same contingencies as US insurance, such as liability and injury to other drivers. Driving without this insurance in Mexico can result in serious penalties, including jail time in Mexico.

The US’ southern neighbor requires "proof of financial responsibility" to pay for an accident throughout its borders. The specific insurance requirements vary by area within the country, just as they do by the state in the US. In Mexico, you have to provide financial responsibility to the police if you are found at fault in an accident. Until you provide you can pay for damages, the police can detain you.

Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance in Peoria, AZ can help you obtain the Mexico insurance you need before your trip. Call or come by our office to pick up your Mexico policy before you leave on your trip south.

How does life insurance work?

Only an agent from Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance can provide the ins and outs of a life insurance policy in Peoria, AZ. You, however, can learn the basics of the nature of life indemnity plans below!

What is life insurance?

In simple terms, life insurance is a contract between the buyer and seller. The buyer (you) agrees to purchase a policy and pay monthly, semi-monthly, or annual premiums to the seller (the assurance company). The indemnity company, in return for such trust and loyalty, agrees to pay the buyer’s relatives in the instance of the policyholder’s death.

Life insurance policies do not require a beneficiary to know that he will gain a financial benefit from the policyholder’s assurance plan. The buyer must, however, choose beneficiaries and should inform such persons of his decision to include them in his policy. A beneficiary does not need the policy number of the deceased holder to file a claim. The benefactor does, however, need to know the name of the assurance company to begin paperwork proceedings. There is no other way for a loved one to know the company with which you hold a life insurance policy unless you tell them.

What factors influence premium payments?

Premium payments are calculated according to several factors that could influence life expectancy. A person’s age, for instance, could cause the quote to rise or fall. Whereas young policy seekers may pay pennies on the dollar for an indemnity plan, those consumers who are older may find themselves paying ten times more for the same policy.

Medical records and lifestyle habits also influence premium payments. Nicotine users and those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes or cancer can generally expect to pay more for life insurance in Peoria, AZ than an individual who has a clean bill of health.

Call Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance for help!

We have been in the business of life insurance for many years and can walk you through the process. Let us help you find the policy that fits your lifestyle and needs today!

Insuring Multiple Cars on One Policy in Peoria, AZ

Getting multiple cars covered on a single policy with Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance in Peoria, AZ is easier than you might think. The process is about the same as getting any car insured, you just need to let your insurer know that you’d like to have these autos covered under a single plan.

There are a number of benefits to getting multiple cars covered on a single policy. For one, it’s usually going to be cheaper. You can generally expect a discount by insuring more than one car on a single policy. It’s also simpler having just one insurance bill to pay each month.

Most insurers will allow you to cover up to five cars on a single policy. Any more than that and you’re looking at fleet insurance for companies or car collectors. Not a lot of people have more than five cars in their garage, so your policy should be able to cover every car you need to be covered in your family, even if you have three kids who just got their licenses.

You can even cover multiple cars in multiple households. If your teen is going off to college, there’s no need to send them off to buy separate insurance just yet.

A multi-car policy is simpler, more affordable, and easy to get set up. If you’re getting married, if your teen just aced his driver’s test, or if you’re eyeing a classic car that looks like it’d be a lot of fun to take out on weekends, go ahead and call Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance in Peoria, AZ and see what we can do to get all of your cars covered.

Should you have additional auto insurance coverage for your teenage driver?

Are you currently experiencing all of the joys that come with having a teenage driver in your home? If this is your present reality, you may have a lot of questions about the best way to provide auto insurance for your family now that you need to insure a teenage driver. Don’t spend any more sleepless nights worrying if you have the appropriate coverage for your Peoria, AZ family, the team at Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance is here to answer your questions and help you determine which policy is appropriate for your family’s auto insurance needs.

There are several factors to consider when it is time to add a teenage driver to your family policy:

  • Teen drivers are more likely to get into a fender bender or accident than adult drivers
  • A lack of experience can cause a higher likelihood of damage to a teenager’s vehicle
  • You may have to pay more if you add a teenager to your family policy than if they have their own coverage

These are just a few of the many factors that may enter into to your decision-making process when it comes time to provide coverage for your family’s teenage drivers. We recommend that you consult with a local agent to understand all of the options that are available to you. It is an exciting time in the lives of any teenager when they gain the independence that comes with being able to drive, make sure that your family members have the coverage they need!

Find out what makes the most sense for your family’s unique situation by scheduling a consultation with the team at Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance today. We are proud to serve the Peoria, AZ area and look forward to working with you.

Who Should Purchase Mexico Insurance?

If you are planning to travel to Mexico in the near future, you may be interested in Mexico insurance. Even if you have auto insurance in the United States, authorities in Mexico don’t recognize the insurance coverage. If you plan to drive when you are in the country, it may be necessary to purchase before you leave to visit the country.

Mexico Insurance Coverage

If you are planning to drive, or even think you may drive when you are in Mexico, then you need to purchase Mexico insurance. You can’t drive in the country without this coverage, otherwise, you may find yourself in a serious situation. Don’t take chances in another country while driving. Purchase Mexico insurance from a reputable and knowledgeable insurance agency that will explain the terms and conditions and work with you to get the temporary coverage you need while exploring Mexico. 

Find The Right Coverage

Not all insurance policies and agencies are the same. Always work with a top agency that offers high-quality insurance products that will offer peace of mind and protection while you are away from the country. If you plan to visit Mexico anytime in the near future, contact Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance serving the residents in the Peoria, AZ area. They will work closely with you to outline your coverage needs and suggest products that work for your needs. 

For more information about Mexico insurance and how it can protect you when you drive in that beautiful country, consult Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance serving Peoria, AZ and the surrounding areas. Call or stop by to speak with a friendly agent ready to give you the details. 

5 Things Burglars Don’t Want You to Know

Published: November 15, 2016

Updated: January 15, 2019  

by Alaina Tweddale

While my husband and I were out visiting family one weekend, thieves broke into our home, took the pillow cases off our bed, and filled them with our valuables. We didn’t know this, of course, until hours after they’d escaped, undetected, into the cool evening air.

Up until that point, I’d been naïve about home break-ins. I didn’t think one could happen to me—and for good reason. The number of U.S. burglaries has declined over the past 10 years. Yet, in 2017, there were still more than 1.4 million committed, as reported by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.

Although a homeowners policy or renters policy can help defray the costs of stolen goods, for many of us, a break-in is about more than just lost stuff. For weeks after our own, I felt violated, afraid and a little angry.

What’s a homeowner to do? Turns out there are several simple steps you can take to help keep the bad guys at bay. Here’s what you should know.

When Do Most Burglars Strike?

Most burglaries are committed by careful thieves who plan crimes based on when they’re least likely to get caught. That means they’re sometimes walking the neighborhood, taking note of homes with dogs, with security systems, and with long stretches of time with no one home.

Burglars Strike During the Day

Burglars don’t want to run into people. Doing so makes their job that much more difficult, which is probably why more than half of home break-ins occur during the day, when most people are at work or at school.

Thieves are often “looking for signs that no one is there,” says Trooper Pascal DiJoseph from the Pennsylvania State Police. ‘They like the easy way. They don’t want to make noise. They don’t want to get caught.”

Of course, we can’t be home all the time. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t fool a would-be burglar into thinking that we are.

Warmer Weather Welcomes More Burglar Activity

As temperatures rise, so do burglary rates. That’s according to a 2014 research report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which found substantial summer spikes in crime activity over a 17-year period. The combination of lengthier days and pleasant weather means people will spend more time away from home, creating greater opportunity for the neighborhood prowler.

The best defense may be to make it appear as if someone is home, even if you aren’t. Read on to discover five easy-to-follow tips to fool would-be burglars below.

1. Locking Your Doors & Windows Can Stop One-Third of Break-Ins Many home burglaries are crimes of opportunity, according to Eric M. Gruss, a Monterey County, California-based police officer. “They’ll try the front door, the side door, the back,” says Gruss. Other common points of entry include a home’s attached garage or its first-floor windows.

“People often don’t double check to make sure their windows and doors are locked,” explains Gruss. That’s the kind of complacency thieves count on. In fact, about one in three burglars enter the home when it is unlocked.

Doors and Locks                                                                                          

Despite the high number of open-door-and-window break-ins, most burglaries do involve some sort of forcible entry. Many locks—particularly those placed on secondary doors like those on back, porch, and garage doors—aren’t strong enough to keep the bad guys out. For best protection, all exterior doors should be solid—that means no windows—and kick-proof.

Also, “there should be deadbolts on all your doors,” advises Gruss. The most effective deadbolt locks will be installed with a box strike plate—an upgrade from the standard strike plate that rests on your door jamb. The strick plate is the weakest point of the door, making it a common entry for a door-kicking burglar. For added durability, install the box strike plate using three inch screws, instead of the standard one inch.While you’re at it, protect your windows, too. Gruss suggests an auto-lock feature for those.

If you moved recently, make sure to change all the locks and update any coded entry points. A previous owner could have left an extra key or pass code with a pet sitter, adult child, or neighbor. In short, unless you change the locks, you don’t know who has access to your home.

And what about your hiding your spare key? “Never leave it on your property,” warns Gruss. “If you can think of a hiding spot, a bad guy can think of it too.” Instead, hand off a copy to a trusted neighbor.

Sliding Glass Doors                                                                                          

Large, sliding glass doors can be easy to shatter, often leaving them vulnerable to attack. They’re also “notorious for lock failure,” adds Gruss. “To be extra safe, get something like a broomstick [or a dowel] and keep it along the bottom of the door, so no one will be able to open it.”

The installation of a glass break detector can also trigger a home alarm if the sound of shattered glass is detected. Other safety options include the installation of shatterproof film or a heavy duty sliding door lock.

Windows                                                                                                                   

We all want to open some windows to let some fresh air inside, particularly when the weather turns warm. When it comes to safety, however, the window is easily shattered, making it the most fragile entry way into the home. They’re also often left unlocked or equipped with a latch, making it easier to force or pry open. That’s why the most effective ways to maintain window safety include:

•An installed secondary locking mechanism. A track lock can be installed on vinyl or aluminum windows to stop the frame from moving freely up or down. Wooden windows can be secured by pushing a bolt, nail, or dowel through a hole drilled through the bottom panel’s stile and then halfway through the upper panel’s stile.

•Close windows when you’re not home. It only takes a burglar a few minutes to break in a rob a home. Closing the windows, even for a quick trip to the store, may be the delay needed to send a prowler packing.

•Carefully select which windows to open, when you do open them. When sleeping, keep only the hard-to-reach windows—like those on the second floor, away from any flat roofing—open. It’s also best to open the windows that are visible from the street. A thief will have a harder time slipping into a window that’s easily visible to neighbors.

•Don’t open windows too wide. Even better, keep all windows open by a margin of less that four inches. Why? That’s the circumference of a child’s head, which means there’s little chance a burglar can fit his head through an opening of that size.

2. Thieves Really Do Case the Joint… but You Can Fool Them

Sometimes thieves do invest time and effort in finding the perfect victim. Don’t help them in their research.

What do you do with packaging from expensive purchases?

•Don’t leave the packaging boxes from expensive new TV or game consoles outside by the trash cans for would-be thieves to spy, warns Gruss. “That’s just advertising that you’re a good potential victim.”

•Do break down the boxes and place them inside your recycling bin, where they’ll be out of sight.

Do You Leave Doors Open When You’re Home?

•Don’t keep the doors to your home, garage, or shed open, even when you’re home. An open door gives thieves a sneak peek at what tools they may be able to use to jimmy a lock or to climb to a second story window. It also showcases your pricey stored goods like a high-end tool chest, a riding lawn mower, or circular saw. If you’ve converted your garage into a livable space, be extra wary. “Here in California, a lot of people turn their garages into man caves. Keep the garage door open, and everyone can see that you have a nice TV in there,” says Gruss.

•Do keep the door closed, and keep would-be thieves from knowing what expensive toys you have stashed away. Do You Keep Your Car Doors Locked When You’re Home?

•Don’t leave your car doors unlocked, especially if you park on the street, in the driveway, or in an unlocked garage. Any items left in the car are at risk, but there’s an even greater danger most people may not consider. “Thieves may steal the garage door opener in the middle of the night and then return to your house during the day,” explains Gruss.

•Do keep the car door locked and any remote garage door openers out of sight.

What Are You Posting on Social Media?

•Don’t publicly post photos to your social media sites. Once online, anyone can access your—or your child’s—photos, which could showcase your expensive electronics and help thieves map the layout of your home. This goes double for vacation photos, which can tip crooks off to the presence of an empty home.

•Do profiles should be set to private, warns Gruss. Carefully vet friends and contacts, making sure you’re connected only with people you actually know and trust in real life. Wait to post vacation photos until after you’ve returned home.

Are You Home?

•Don’t make it obvious that you’re not home. Would-be thieves are looking for tips to identify a homeowner’s schedule, particularly one who is not often home.

•Do throw thieves off the trail by leaving a few lights on or setting a timer to turn them on at dusk. Leave some window shades up and some shades down, so it looks like someone is home, filtering the natural light. If you’re on vacation or away for an extended time, think about hiring a house sitter or asking a neighbor to check in on the house one or two times a day. A little regular movement can be just enough of a deterrent to scare off a potential burglar.

3. Being a Good Neighbor Can Decrease Area Break-In Numbers

Getting to know your neighbors, and looking out for each other, is one of the most effective ways to deter would-be burglars in search of a neighborhood to prowl.

•Create a neighborhood watch. Criminals don’t want to be approached by nosy neighbors. An area with high foot traffic, where people know each other and watch out for unfamiliar activity, will be a lot less attractive to thieves.

•Watch your neighbor’s back. Create a network of neighbors who will watch each other’s homes while away. Bring in mail, water the lawn, bring garbage and recycling cans to and from the curb. Park in each other’s driveway so it appears as if someone is home. Any act that mimics everyday activity will give thieves an indication that its business as usual at home.

•Share key security information.Share emergency contacts, a spare key, and any security codes with a trusted neighbor or two. Agree to listen for each other’s home security sirens, particularly when you know a neighbor won’t be home.

4. They Already Know Where You Keep Your Valuables… So Do This Instead

Even if you don’t post your photos online, an experienced thief probably already knows where to go. “A lot of people keep their valuables in a jewelry box, and that’s an easy target,” says DiJoseph. “They grab it and off they go.”

He suggests keeping valuable items and family heirlooms in a household safe that is either too heavy to carry or professionally mounted to a floor or beam that can’t be removed from the home.

It’s also a good idea to keep an inventory of your most important possessions. Photograph your keepsakes. Document the models and serial numbers for big-ticket electronics and guns. Think about engraving an ID number and the name of your home state on valuable electronics. Sometimes stolen items are recovered at a later date. The more identifying information you have about an item, the more likely it is to be returned to its rightful owner.

“Unless you have that information on file, though, there’s not a lot we can do to return property to its rightful owner,” explains Gruss.

Does insurance cover your stolen valuables? Your homeowner’s policy covers up to certain limits; however, adding Valuable Items Blanket Coverage to your policy, you can rest assured this added layer of protection will provide a hassle-free and inexpensive way to protect your high-value items.

Check with your home insurance agent to make sure specific items are covered.

5. You Can Make Your Home a More Difficult Target

The harder it is for a thief to enter your home, the more likely they are to go somewhere else. Here are some effective deterrents:

Home Security

•Mount a visible camera. Many home security cameras can be set to send an alert to your smartphone if someone enters the frame. “A quick glance can tell you if it’s the gardener, the exterminator, or someone else,” says Gruss. Even a fake camera can work wonders. “Thieves are more likely to pick a place that looks like it has no security on the house,” he explains.

•Invest in a home security system. As with a camera, just the sight of an alarm system sticker can be enough to deter a would-be thief. “People sometimes don’t like the sticker, they don’t like the way it looks, but posting it really does make a difference,” affirms Gruss.

•Don’t just bluff that you have a secure home. Don’t just buy a home security sticker or decal to post in front of your house. If a burglar forces entry through your back door, and doesn’t trigger an alarm, they’ll know pretty quickly that the sticker is a sham—and that your home is unguarded.

•Set the siren for a short interval. Even with an alarm, once a burglar is in, time is of the essence. “Sometimes they’re out before the siren even goes off, sometimes within a minute or two,” says DiJoseph. “That sounds like a short amount of time, but try it. Set a watch and see if you can run through every room of your house in under a minute.” (Note: I tried it. He was right. I was able to make it through my home in under a minute.) DiJoseph suggests setting your system’s siren delay for just 10-15 seconds.

•Install motion detecting lights. Night time intruders can be deterred by a blinding spotlight, triggered by an intruder’s presence.

Other Deterrents

•Trim your hedges.“High shrubs provide cover for a prowler,” explains Gruss. Keep them cut back to below your window so a burglar can’t hide while trying to pick your lock or break your glass.

•Post a “Beware of Dog” sign, even if you don’t have a dog. Some burglars are particularly dissuaded by larger breeds. Better yet, adopt an actual dog. Just be aware of how certain breeds can affect homeowner’s insurance premiums.

•Keep a television or radio on , which can deter some burglars by leading them to assume someone is home. What To Do If You See Someone Suspicious It’s not always easy to keep your cool in the heat of the moment. It can make sense to establish an emergency plan—just in case you come across a would-be intruder at home.

•If you see a suspicious vehicle in the neighborhood, write down the license plate number or snap a photo. It may turn out an unknown visitor from down the street but it won’t hurt to have the info if it turns out to be someone up to no good.

•If a stranger knocks on your door, make sure they know you’re in the home. Be loud, even if you choose to not answer the door. More than anything, you want to make your presence known. Thieves most often prefer an empty home.

•If you choose to answer the door, do so while on the phone with a friend (or pretend you’re on the phone). This will key a burglar in to the fact that someone else will know if a break-in occurs.

•If you’re positive a break-in is in progress, call 911 and shout statements like, “I just called 911!” You want let the burglar know you’re aware of their presence and that help is on the way.

•If you come home to a burglarized home, call the police immediately. Don’t touch anything the criminal may have touched. Wait outside for the police to arrive. It’s possible a burglar may still be inside the home.

Even if you follow these tips, they aren’t guaranteed to keep your home safe from burglars. Still, the harder it is to get to your goods and the more likely they are to get caught, the less likely a thief will be to select your home. If only I had known this earlier.

The Importance of Life Insurance

The purpose of insurance is to plan for the future and to protect what you have today. One form of protection is life insurance, yet many individuals do not take advantage of what life insurance offers. There will be a time where you are not able to provide for your family. With life insurance, you can continue to provide for them even after you’re gone. So whether you live in or around Peoria, AZ, Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance is here to help. 

You Won’t Always Be There

You will not always be there to provide for your family. Final expenses for funerals is expensive. These costs can quickly push into the tens of thousands of dollars. This also doesn’t include medical bills that will likely be attached to it. For some who do not have large bank accounts and investments they may not be able to pay for this. Life insurance is exactly that and it is there to provide money for not only final expenses but for your family for years to come. 

The Right Amount For Your Family

Not everyone needs the same kind of life insurance policy. What you need is going to be likely different from your neighbor. The team at Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance can work with you in determining the right coverage for what you and your family will need in life insurance. 

It is important to invest in life insurance as it will provide for your family even after you are gone. So if you have a family or, at the very least, want to prepare for the future, it is critical to consider life insurance. Whether you live in or around Peoria, AZ, the team at Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance is here to help. 

How a Good Home Insurance Policy Will Protect You

For most people, the biggest purchase that they will ever make is when they buy their first home. While a home is a place for you to live, it is also a very valuable asset that will eventually make up a larger part of your net worth. Because of this, those that are in the Peoria, AZ area need to make sure that they properly protect their investment with a quality home insurance policy. A home insurance policy can provide you with many different types of protection.

Protects Your Home

One of the most important parts of any home insurance policy is that it will provide you with protection for your home. When you own a property, you will want to make sure that you are protected against fire, theft, vandalism, or damage due to bad weather. When you have a full home insurance policy in place, you will receive this type of coverage. This will provide you with the financial protection that you need to feel comfortable and live with peace of mind. This coverage will also extend to your personal belongings. More expensive items could require a separate policy rider.

Liability Protection

When you have a home insurance policy in place, you also will receive some liability protection. If you own a property, you are taking on risk if you have a guest of any kind come to your home. If someone happens to be injured at your property, you could be found liable. The liability protection part of your home insurance policy will provide you with support if you are sued for liability. 

If you own a home in the Peoria, AZ area, you should speak with the team at Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance. The professionals at Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance will be able to help you better determine your home insurance needs and can get you into a policy that gives you the right type of coverage. 

Questions to Ask before Renewing Your Auto Insurance

Before renewing your auto insurance in Peoria, AZ, there are some questions you should ask your agent at Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance. This will help you make sure that you are getting the best deal and still receiving adequate coverage for your needs.

Can You Change the Deductible?

If you can change the deductible, see how it can make a difference in the premium you pay. If you have a higher deductible, you can pay less on premiums. However, keep in mind that if you do have to file a claim you will be held responsible for the higher deductible.

Can You Review the Current Information?

It’s also good to make sure the information on file is correct. An insurance company in Arizona should be notified of any major changes, which include job changes, adding new drivers, and updating your marital status. However, it can be difficult to remember to update your insurance company when some of these things happen, so doing it at your renewal is necessary.

What Are the Full Coverage Options?

Ask your agent if full coverage is necessary. If your vehicle is older, you may not want to spend the money on comprehensive and collision coverage. Know the actual cash value of the car, in order to help make these changes.

Are There Any Discounts?

If you have had a good driving record in Arizona, you may be able to get a discount for not having any claims. It never hurts to ask about discounts and there could be discounts you haven’t thought of before.

How Will Claims Be Handled?

While the goal of insurance is to not have to use it, sometimes you will have to file a claim. By figuring out how a claim is handled during your renewal process, you can get the information you need to feel comfortable in the event you need this.

Contact Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance, serving Peoria, AZ, to get a quote on auto insurance.