INSURANCE ADVERTISING DOLLARS AND CUSTOMER SERVICE

Most of us have seen the commercials on TV about Mayhem getting into some terrible situation, or the pig driving a convertible, but what you may not realize is what these companies spend in advertisement each year. The cost may astound you. While each of them are trying to outdo one another with the best this and cheapest that, you should begin to wonder, what is their focus, you or the bottom line?

time-moneySaving money each year is a big deal. A few times a year, I will sit down and look at where my family can cut costs. One thing I pay attention to when doing this, is how not to cut service. Cutting your yearly costs doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice service. So when I hear fifteen minutes could save you, or the latest one up, you could save money in half the time, the first thing that sticks with me is “could”. Isn’t your insurance more important than “could”? Shouldn’t something as instrumental in protecting your assets be worth more than seven to fifteen minutes? Your independent agent thinks so and will take the time to give you the best coverage at the most affordable price.

Did you know that most of what the commercials show as services unique to them are offered by the same carriers your independent agent uses? Services like, roadside assistance, identity theft protection, and actual cash value for new vehicles, just to name a few. The difference is your independent agent will explain what these services entail in more detail than a commercial will.

I must admit, these commercials are fun and engaging, but beyond the thirty second spot, I’m left wondering more about what I’d lose if I didn’t have an agent looking out for my specific needs and budget.


JUNE IS LANE COURTESY MONTH

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Lane courtesy is the simple idea that slower traffic should use the right lane, and that the left lane be used for passing, not cruising. A common misconception is that driving slower will help regulate fast drivers and reduce traffic accidents. But research has shown that the changing of lanes frequently and an increase in the variations of speed lead to higher involvement in accidents.

Here are the four key benefits of practicing lane courtesy described by the National Motorist Association.

  • Decrease in accidents. Traffic moving smoothly, without tailgating, road rage, weaving from one lane to another, the chances of an accident will decrease.
  • Better gas mileage. Less breaking and accelerating will improve your gas mileage.
  • Less time on the road. Yielding to faster traffic will reduce congestions and traffic jams.
  • No more road rage. Being courteous and moving over for faster traffic will decrease the stress and conflict that can be found on the road.

Most states have some type of law that restricts driving in the left lane. The ones that don’t, still say that slower traffic should stay right. Do you know what the law is in your state? Share with us in the comments your left lane courtesy stories!


OVERLOOKED DISCOUNTS FOR YOUR MAINE HOME INSURANCE

Homeowners-Insurance-Discount-300x184  Overlooking discounts for your Maine home insurance is easy to do. I often hear, “I didn’t know that!” when talking to customers about discounts.  Especially when they hear something as standard as a smoke detector or fire extinguisher can take a percentage off of your premium.  Taking advantage of all offered discounts is an easy way to save money, so why not do it? Not all carriers will provide the same discounts, so it’s important to talk with you independent agent about what discounts you could possibly be receiving. Below is a list few of the most common types of discounts.

 

  • Security – Living in a gated community, installing an alarm system, and dead bolts can provide discounts.
  • Safety – Installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, a temperature alarm, and fire extinguishers can help save money. If you have a pool, putting a fence around it can help as well as installing hand rails on staircases and having an automatic backup generator.
  • Maintenance – Is your roof resistant to hail? Has your home recently been rewired, or have you installed new pipes? These upgrades to your home can bring costs down.
  • Multiple Policies – Bundling your homeowners with your auto, watercraft or any other policy will help you save. Raising your deductible will also lower your premium.

 

These are just a few way to save. Be sure to talk to your independent agent about the ways you can be saving by just doing things you already do! One more reason to choose an independent agent is that we can keep you informed and we are looking at all of the ways we can save you dollars on your home insurance!


CHENEY INSURANCE WINS PRESTIGEOUS NATIONAL AUTOMATION AWARD

Since the introduction of desktop computers into the workplace in the mid-1980’s, Cheney Insurance has continuously invested in emerging technologies and adjusted their internal workflows and practices to serve their clients better and faster.  This proactive approach to leveraging automation has set them apart from other independent insurance agencies across Maine and the country for years.

NetVU

Their efforts were recognized at a national conference recently, when Cheney Insurance was presented the 2014 Automation Excellence Award by NetVU, the country’s largest association of insurance agency computer system users.  They were one of six agencies to be nominated in two size categories.

“I literally had tears in my eyes as I walked off the stage,” wrote agency President and CEO Dennis Hilton in an email to his staff shortly after accepting the award, “and I want to express my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to each one of you!”  Hilton had joined coworkers Pam Gaeth and Kate Dunstan at the Nashville educational event attended by almost 4,000 people, while the rest of their Damariscotta staff watched the presentation live on a large screen from their office Media Room. “There was a whole lot of whooping and cheering going on!” according to staff member Kathleen Blodgett.

Some examples of the ways in which Cheney Insurance uses automation include a lead management system that is tied to their client database, electronic auto insurance ID cards, and websites that support mobile devices.  They have scanning devices at each workstation to reduce much of the paper in their office, and use email, e-signatures, and a wide range of social media outlets in client interactions, enabling them to maintain a personal touch while also being extra efficient.

“This award would not have been possible without your dedication, perseverance, and especially your support of the things we do that make us different,” continued the email from Hilton to his staff.  “Our quest to leverage technology in order to better serve our clients has set us apart, and this award and national recognition is the best example of that!”

Based in Damariscotta, The Cheney Companies Financial Group has over 32 professional associates who serve the property ownership and insurance needs of thousands of families and businesses throughout Maine.  In November, they launched a new Benefits division that has helped hundreds of people obtain health insurance by enrolling in the Maine Health Insurance Marketplace.  Together, the CCFG member companies handle annual sales in excess of $50 million.  You can learn more by visiting www.cheneycompanies.com or viewing the Facebook pages for Cheney Insurance, Newcastle Square Realty, and Newcastle Square Vacation Rentals


MAINE AUTO INSURANCE AND MAINE ROADS

Spring is just around the corner! A great indicator that winter is being left behind is the orange “Bump” signs posted along the roads. If it isn’t a frost heave it is a pot hole.  The daily commutes resembles more of an off road course at the X Games than your BUMPregular drive to work. The warmer days cause the snow to melt while the nights bring us black ice. Driving this time of year can be stressful to say the least. Having great insurance for your vehicle can make driving in March a bit less stressful.

Frost heaves are caused by ice forming beneath the surface of the soil. The pavement cracks leading to potholes. Hitting a frost heave can be a bit like driving the General Lee except you don’t seem to land the way Bo and Luke did. It is easy to lose control of your vehicle when it is in the air. Slamming into a pothole can cause blown tires. It is always a good idea to maintain a safe distance between you and car ahead to prevent a serious accident. Be sure to give yourself extra time when traveling, even to work.

Your vehicles can take a beating due to potholes and frost heaves. Unfortunately if the damage is due to a frost heave or pothole, highway departments and towns will not reimburse you. Filing a claim can be just as stressful as the driving on Maine roads in March, but it doesn’t have to be! When you choose a Trusted Choice agency, you are choosing the best insurance agency! We work for you to make sure you get the coverage you need and the help you deserve.


FROZEN PIPES! ARE YOU COVERED?

It seems every winter I feel like it is worse than the last. Each year, I think this is most snow I’ve seen or this is the coldest it has ever been. Well, this year I might be on to something! In the beginning of January a pipe froze and then burst in the hall. Luckily, we reacted quickly and had the water shut off before serious damage to our belongings occurred. After calling the plumber, I phoned our landlord and the following morning he began the claims process.

Busted Pipe Location

Busted Pipe Location

Within a few days our landlord’s agent phoned me to set up a time for the adjuster to come out and assess the damage and see if it was a covered loss. I was confused; I thought surely it is covered. This is where frozen pipes can get tricky. Most policies will cover damage from a burst pipe, but if your pipe froze and burst, you need to prove that you properly maintained heat in your home. Prior to the adjuster arriving, I was told to have proof that I maintained heat and electricity. I thought, this guy must be crazy! It has been so cold how, could we function without the electricity and heat!

Fortunately, I had all receipts of fuel deliveries and could easily access my CMP account to prove I was properly maintaining heat in the house. From what I hear around our community we weren’t the only ones during that time that had frozen pipes. I imagine a lot of folks thought they would be covered too. Having an independent agent to walk us through this process with our landlord was extremely helpful. The entire experience showed us that knowing what your policy covers and what it doesn’t holds just as much value as having the insurance itself.

If you have questions or think you may need more coverage, contact your agent today! Don’t wait until you’re standing in inches of water trying to find the shut off valve.


INSURANCE PAYMENTS AND DISCOUNTS

There are many ways to receive discounts on your insurance. Be it by being a safe driver, bundling your policies, or driving a safer vehicle, discounts can be had. One of my favorite ways to receive a discount is by making my payments through an electronic funds transfer, better known as EFT. It is the transfer of payment from your checking, savings, or credit card account. Insurance companies love EFT’s because there is no mistaking when payments will be received.

EFT

Setting up an EFT payment is easy and the benefits are great. No more writing a check out every month, looking for a stamp and making sure it is in the mail on time. On the same day each month your payment is deducted from the account you choose and the bill is paid! Some companies will limit your option to just checking accounts, but most all carriers offer EFT Payments.

Most insurance companies charge a fee when making monthly payments. The fee can be anywhere from $5 to $10. Those charges add up! These fees are often waived when you make EFT payments. That could result in up to $120 savings a year. Not to mention no more late payment fees. Another money saving incentive is a possible discount for signing up for EFT payments. It may not be as big as a paid in full discount, but every little bit helps!

The best way to find out what discounts you can get and what you need to do to get them is to talk to your local independent agent. Your agent will have the knowledge and tools to get you the best rates.


BRING IN THE NEW YEAR SAFE AND HAPPY

New Year’s Eve is a time for reflection and celebration. As the year winds down we’ll be reliving the great moments and thinking of the goals we want to achieve in the New Year. Whether you are hosting a small gathering with friends or you have planned an extravagant night on the town, there are some things to keep in mind, things that will bring you safely into the New Year.

Hosting a Party:

  • Include non alcoholic beverages and plenty of food for your guests.
  • Stop serving alcohol a couple of hours prior to the end of the celebration.
  • Contact a local taxi service. Make reservations for your guests ahead of time if possible.
  • Provide a place for your guests to sleep it off.

Attending a Party:

  • Designate a driver! Doing this prior to arriving is the best way to ensure you arrive home safely.
  • If you have too much to drink, call a friend or family member.
  • Drive defensively and wear your seat belt.
  • Pick destinations you can walk to.

We all want to ring in the New Year in style with a celebration and joy, but in order to do that safely we must remember to pace ourselves, snack if you are drinking, stay hydrated, and most importantly have a sober driver. All of us at Cheney Insurance Agency wish you a very Happy New Year!

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THE CHENEY COMPANIES COMMITS $25,000 TOWARD CLC YMCA POOL

Dennis Hilton, President and CEO of The Cheney Companies Financial Group

Dennis Hilton, President and CEO of The Cheney Companies Financial Group

In an email to his 30-plus associates this week, President and CEO Dennis Hilton explained that The Cheney Companies Financial Group has increased their CLC YMCA Pool fundraising pledge to $25,000.

“I firmly believe, as many do, that the CLC YMCA serves an important need in our communities.  Now is the time for us to stretch beyond what we feel we can normally do, and help make this project happen,” said Hilton in an internal message to the staffs at Cheney Insurance, Newcastle Square Realty, and Newcastle Square Vacation Rentals, which together make up the CCFG.

He added, “We and other businesses clearly benefit by having the ‘Y’ as a prominent part of our community.  The comprehensive nature of the facilities and the programs they offer serves the local population but also helps draw new residents and seasonal visitors, and the ‘Y’ is often an important consideration for families and retirees seeking to relocate here.”

 

“This is an exciting opportunity for our organization to step up and make a difference to hundreds of families, including our own associates and our children and grandchildren, who will be able to enjoy using the new CLC YMCA pool when it finally opens to the public,” he concluded.

Hilton is a native of the Damariscotta area.  He attended local schools (including Franklin Grammar and Castner School) and grew up as an “in-town kid” with his parents and sisters on Glidden Street in Newcastle. He has served on the YMCA Board of Directors in the past and been involved with other community groups, and his companies have long maintained a strong commitment to providing financial and volunteer support to a wide-range of local organizations, food pantry’s, and non-profits.

Based in Damariscotta, The Cheney Companies Financial Group has over 32 professional associates who serve the property ownership and insurance needs of thousands of families and businesses throughout Maine.  Together, the CCFG member companies handle annual sales in excess of $48 million.  You can learn more by visiting www.cheneycompanies.com or viewing the Facebook pages for Cheney Insurance, Newcastle Square Realty, and Newcastle Square Vacation Rentals.


CHENEY INSURANCE ACQUIRES BRIDGEWATER FINANCIAL GROUP

According to a joint statement released by Dennis Hilton and Dino Joannides, Cheney Insurance Agency has acquired Bridgewater Financial Group, including several dozen local existing health insurance accounts, and will launch a new benefits division.  Joannides will continue to grow and operate his financial services practice as a Financial Advisor.

 

The statement further explains that Rachel Lachance has been hired by Cheney Insurance to work alongside Joannides during the transition, and will handle future sales of group and individual health insurance, life insurance, dental insurance, and Voluntary Supplemental Benefits at the agency. Lachance has a breadth of experience in administering, implementing and marketing employee benefit programs. Her prior work experience includes 18 years with Anthem and the past 10 years working for a large Portland agency as an Employee Benefits Account Manager.

 

“This is an exciting opportunity for our organization and for our existing clients, as well as those new clients we will welcome with this acquisition,” states Hilton, President of Cheney Insurance.  “The marketplace has evolved with the arrival of the Health Insurance Exchange, and we want to be positioned to help our existing and new clients through the process of obtaining health insurance for the first time, or by improving their existing coverage or lowering costs where possible.”

 

Cheney Insurance represents Aetna, Anthem, Delta Dental, the nonprofit Maine Community Health Options, Washington National and other carriers, allowing them to find the right health insurance coverage fit for each individual, family, or business group plan.

 

Joannides, who started Bridgewater Financial Group in 1990 and re-located to the same Day-Nash Building that houses Cheney Insurance in 2002, will remain a tenant and will continue to serve his investment clients from that location.  “I was looking for the right opportunity to divest my health insurance accounts so I can focus more on my investment and financial services clients.  Turning these valued health insurance accounts over to Rachel Lachance and Cheney Insurance only made good sense since many of these folks already do business with Cheney for their property and liability insurance needs.”

 

Joannides will continue to work closely with Lachance during a transition period that is expected to last a full year.  “The most important result for both me and Dennis is that our health insurance clients are fully informed and comfortable with the reasons for this change, and we will be visiting each of them to have that discussion one-on-one,” added Joannides.

 

To learn more about your options with regard to the new Health Insurance Exchange, or to discuss other health insurance products, life insurance, dental insurance, or Voluntary Supplemental Benefits, contact Rachel Lachance at 207-563-3435 or e-mail her at rachellachance@cheneycompanies.com.

 

Cheney Insurance is owned by Damariscotta native Dennis Hilton who also owns Newcastle Square Realty and Newcastle Square Vacation Rentals.  Together, these companies operate under the umbrella organization The Cheney Companies Financial Group.  Based in Damariscotta, The CCFG has over 32 professional associates who serve the property ownership and insurance needs of thousands of families and businesses throughout Maine.  Together, the CCFG member companies handle annual sales in excess of $45 million.  You can learn more by visiting www.cheneycompanies.com or viewing their Facebook pages.