Getting Hitched? You Need These 5 Insurance Tips

Love is in the air at Esurance — 2 members of our team recently got engaged and another just got married. Despite all the wedding bells we’re hearing around here, we know most people don’t equate insurance with romance. But, getting hitched and insurance have more in common than you might think. (In fact, the word “insurance” originally meant “betrothal.”)

And because it’s Valentine’s Day, it’s the perfect time to share advice for the altar-bound. Keep these hints in mind as you prepare to say “I do.”

Insurance tips for brides and grooms

Get coverage for your engagement ring

According to wedding website, the average cost of an engagement ring is $5,431. (Cha-ching!) Of course, the idea is that the bride will wear it forever … but what if it goes down the drain or gets stolen from a hotel room instead? Since most standard renters or homeowners policies only cover jewelry up to a certain amount (and may only cover theft or damage, not loss), you can usually add a low-cost endorsement (aka rider) to get additional protection.

Consider wedding insurance

I know a couple whose wedding was almost canceled when Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted, disrupting air travel across Europe and stranding the groom and his family for nearly a week. Fortunately, they made it to the altar in time, but it’s a reminder that something unexpected may force you to postpone your big event (which could end up being costly).

While Esurance doesn’t offer this kind of coverage, it’s worth thinking about. Some companies will cover you in case of a severe rainstorm, if a vendor doesn’t show, or if a mountain blows its top. (You might want to get travel insurance to protect your honeymoon too).

Insurance tips for newlyweds

Let your car insurance company know you’ve tied the knot

Statistics show that married people have fewer accidents than those flying solo. (Tweet this.)

This means you might be able to get a lower car insurance rate now that you’re hitched. Your rate depends on several other factors as well, but it’s worth checking with your insurer to see if you qualify for a reduction. And once the catering bills start rolling in, it’ll be nice to know that being married can actually save you money!

Remember to add your spouse to your policy

Provided you and your sweetie have good driving histories and haven’t let your coverage lapse, you’ll probably save money by combining your policies. If you’re insured by different companies, this is also a good time to review your coverage and get some comparison quotes to see if you could be paying less.

And if you’re living at the same address for the first time, or you’ve moved into a new place together, you’ll also want to update your renters or homeowners policy.

Your 2 insurance policies entwined — talk about romantic!

Look into multi-vehicle and multi-policy discounts

Most insurance companies (Esurance included) typically offer discounts if you insure more than one vehicle on a policy. Those discounts usually apply if you have at least 2 cars on a single auto policy or if you insure more than 2 motorcycles on a single motorcycle policy (or even a combination like a motorcycle and a snowmobile).

You can also get multi-policy discounts if your motorcycle, home, or apartment is insured by the same company as your vehicle. It’s like all your policies are snuggled together on the couch in front of a classic movie. (I’ve taken this too far, haven’t I?)

Happy Valentine’s Day, lovebirds. Here’s to many years of wedded (and insured) bliss.

Related links

Domestic partners can get the married rate, too
Discover the history of the word “insurance”

$1.5 Million Twitter Giveaway: Behind the Scenes Video

Last week, through our $1.5 million Twitter giveaway, we hand-delivered a pallet of money to this guy. As you might imagine, coordinating such a gigantic giveaway was no small feat (especially since we didn’t know from which great state our lucky winner would hail).

But with a team assembled in the Midwest, we were ready to head in any direction. And as everyone waited anxiously to find out who would win the cash, our film crews captured the excitement involved with moving a huge stack of cash across the country.

Once we knew our winner was located in California, the money left Chicago in a jet and made its way to San Francisco, where it was transported by armored truck to its final destination: John’s house.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to hand-deliver a pallet (yes, pallet!) of money:

As if moving the money wasn’t enough excitement, imaging WINNING the money. Our winner John and his lovely wife were literally struck speechless as Aunt Chippy from Jimmy Kimmel Live! arrived at their door, along with a film crew and small army of Federal Marshals, to deliver the loot.

See what happens when someone brings a pallet of cash to your door:

And in case you missed all the hubbub last week:

Watch the winner announced on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Find out why Esurance gave away $1.5 million

Tips for Before, During, and After a Power Outage

The U.S. has had an onslaught of damaging storms recently, and that means a lot of weather-related perils to contend with, like power outages. It’s important to know what to do if the power goes out in your area, especially during the midst of a severe storm.

How to prepare before a power outage

There’s a lot you can do to keep your home from becoming a pitch-black igloo during a winter power outage. Here are some measures you can take before the power goes out:

  • Invest in flashlights, a battery-operated radio, and, of course, extra batteries. Another handy device: a hand-crank radio, which actually doubles as a flashlight and phone charger. Remember to check them occasionally to ensure they’re all functioning and store them together for easy access.
  • Always have bottled water in your pantry (store-bought or stored in spare containers).
  • Well before the seasonal cold arrives, insulate your place by caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows.
  • Consider installing alternative heating equipment (like a gas fireplace or wood-burning stove) in a well-ventilated space and make sure to have plenty of fuel on hand. If that’s not possible, battery-operated heaters can work well too. The goal is to keep at least one room warm enough for a lengthy stay.
  • An easy-to-miss but crucial consideration: if you have medication that needs to be refrigerated, remember to ask your pharmacist for information on storing it during a power outage.
  • Have an electric garage door? It’s best to learn how to operate it manually before the need arises.

What to do during a power outage

So the lights are out and … you’re home. Now’s the time to put all your prep work to use.

  • If you’re concerned about preserving the battery life of your flashlights, hand-crank flashlights are a good alternative (and a good backup).
  • Don’t open the refrigerator or freezer door if you can help it. Refrigerated food can stay cold (and safe for consumption) for up to 4 hours, while frozen food can last up to 48 hours if the freezer is densely packed (or 24 hours if it’s less packed). For more on food safety in an emergency, check out these guidelines from the USDA.
  • To avoid a power surge when the electricity returns, turn off computers, TVs, and other nonessential electronics. But be sure to leave a light on so you’ll know when the power is restored.
  • If you have elderly or handicapped neighbors, help out by making sure they’re safe, dressed warmly, and have food and water. If someone has medical equipment that requires electricity, call for help or get them to a place where the power is working.

What to do after the power’s been restored

In the aftermath of a power outage due to harsh weather, it’s best to avoid going outside if possible. But, if you must, here are some tips to help keep you safe:

  • Practice extreme caution if you go outside to survey the damages after a storm. Remember that downed or hanging electrical wires can be hidden by fallen trees or other wreckage. Always assume that a downed line is a live line and highly dangerous.
  • Check in with your neighbors, just as you would if the outage were still in effect.
  • Use designated crosswalks and sidewalks if you have to get somewhere on foot. Roads will likely be slipperier than usual and cars may have difficulty stopping for you, so jaywalking is especially dangerous.

Protecting against storm damage

Focusing on manageable details, like storing emergency drinking water and using nonelectric light and heat sources, can help you prepare for an outage. But power outages can do more than just spoil your food or make you miss Boardwalk Empire. That’s why it helps to have homeowners insurance in case a storm causes your flooding or wind damage. You can spare yourself a lot of grief if you get top-notch protection for your home before severe weather hits.

Related links

Power Outages and Food Spoilage: Can Homeowners Insurance Help?

6 great reasons to winterize your home

How to fight the winter blues

What to Put In Your Emergency Flood Kit

4 Small Steps to a Big Money Makeover

2014 is well under way and many of us have already suspended our New Year’s resolutions with thoughts like:

  • I promise I’ll get back to the gym (when work slows down a bit)
  • Junk food is out … right after the Super Bowl party
  • My debt-reduction plan has now been hijacked by credit card statements for December’s holiday cheer

But don’t despair. Making 2014 your year for a money makeover doesn’t have to be painful. In fact, small steps can lead to big changes.

4 easy steps to a major money makeover

1. The one-card wonder

Take all of your credit cards, except one, and put them in an envelope. Secure the envelope using a bunch of tape — really roll it up! Then, tuck that bundle of plastic pain in the back of an unhandy drawer, like the one in the kitchen with all the expired coupons and corkscrews or the drawer in the storage closet with the left-handed garden glove and the old television remotes.

Now you’re on an easy-to-follow debt diet. You’ll only use the one remaining credit card while you pay the others off without adding to their existing balances. You may even discover that once those cards are paid off, you’ll never need them again. The “one-card wonder” has forced you to trim credit card spending and pay off debt, and, as a result, likely boosted your credit score.

2. Tune up your car insurance

Sometimes we go on autopilot when it comes to our personal finances. The car insurance bill comes in and we pay it. It comes in again and we pay it again, never really taking a moment to review the coverage and rates.

As your car gets older, you may want to consider adjusting your deductibles and comprehensive coverage. Plus, as time passes between accidents, traffic tickets, and claims, you earn a better rate. Paying annually rather than monthly or quarterly can also save you money.

Find out how much coverage you currently need and adjust your policy accordingly. Talk to your insurance provider about discounts you could be earning. And get some price comparisons to see which provider can offer you the best rate!

3. Revisit your home insurance

Many homeowners pay their insurance premium as part of escrow withdrawals built in to their mortgage payment — talk about an unseen expense.

But since you’ve kicked up your credit score with the “one-card wonder” debt diet, you may qualify for lower premiums. Insurance coverage for your home can sometimes offer even more savings than the discounts you might find on car insurance. And adjusting deductibles, bundling policies, and installing a security system and smoke detectors can also earn you homeowners insurance discounts.

4. Start an unaccounted-for account

The trouble with financial planning is it’s so dang complicated. IRAs, ETFs, 401(k)s, W-2s … is your head spinning yet? Here’s how to break the code: start an unaccounted-for account. It can be a savings account, a separate checking account, or a brokerage account — it doesn’t matter. We’re not making big decisions here, we’re just getting started.

Each month, or better yet each week, make a deposit to this account. You can write a check to yourself, arrange for an automatic transfer, whatever. Just divert money to this account and think about it later.

So many people get caught up in trying to do the best thing that they end up doing nothing. Can’t decide right now if you need a Roth or regular IRA? Figure it out later. Exchange-traded funds or mutual funds? You’ll get to that. Stocks or bonds? Not important right now.

The key is to build up the account balance to a point where it will become necessary to make a decision. (And that’s where we can help.) In the meantime, it’ll serve perfectly as your emergency reserve fund — perhaps earning a bit of interest, but mostly on standby for higher purposes. Later, you can begin siphoning some of it off into an IRA or investment account.

But just remember: the most important thing is to simply start.

Join our auto insurance Tweetchat for a chance to win prizes

Want more great advice from NerdWallet and Esurance? Join our Tweetchat on Thursday 2/13 for a chance to win $100 in prizes!

On February 13 at 1 p.m. PT, NerdWallet will be hosting Esurance for a lively Twitter conversation about auto insurance. Join us for a chance to win 1 of 2 $100 Amazon gift cards!* Use #NerdChat to participate.

This week’s topic: how to save on auto insurance.

We’ll discuss the ins and outs of auto insurance, from how to get a quote online in minutes to insurance costs and little-known ways to save!

Anyone can participate, but you must be following @Esurance and @NerdWallet and RSVP below to win our prizes!

To make it easier for us to track our attendees and pick the winners, please RSVP here with your Twitter ID (place in the “Link Title” field), email address, and your Twitter URL (place this in the “URL” field). Winners will be selected at random from RSVPs and announced within one day of the chat. If a winner is chosen who RSVP’d but didn’t attend, a second winner will be chosen.



Stuff our legal team makes us say

*No purchase necessary to enter or win. A purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Subject to Official Rules. Must be 18 or older and the age of majority in your state. Open to legal residents of any of the 50 U.S. states or DC. Void where prohibited. Odds depend on eligible entries received. Sponsor: Esurance Insurance Services, Inc., 650 Davis Street, San Francisco, CA 94111.

Related links

Find out how keeping your New Year’s resolutions can help you save on insurance.
Expecting a tax refund this year? Get some smart ways to spend it.

This Guy Won $1.5 Million with a Tweet

Last Sunday, we told about 100 million Super Bowl fans to Tweet “#EsuranceSave30” for a chance to win 1.5 million bucks.

And then … boom.

Immediately the hashtags flew and Twitter blew up with fans who were understandably excited about the possibility of winning a boatload of cash in exchange for just 140 characters.

Within a minute, more than 200,000 people had Tweeted for a shot at the prize and by the time the sweeps ended (a mere, but frenzied 36 hours), we’d received more than 5.4 million Tweets total.

The 1.5-million-dollar Tweet

But alas, only 1 Tweet could win. To help protect the privacy of our winner, we can’t share his actual Tweet. We can tell you  that, in true Twitter fashion, it was short, sweet, and yes, included that all-important hashtag #EsuranceSave30. And because we know you’re probably still a little curious, here are a few Tweet deets:

The winning Tweet was received on Monday, February 3rd at  4:17 pm PT.

So, who won the $1.5 million?

Last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the lucky winner was revealed. Watch the big moment as Aunt Chippy arrives to surprise John from Northern California.

Watch the video.

As you can see, having a pallet of money delivered to your front door by Jimmy Kimmel’s Aunt Chippy is more than enough to leave a guy completely utterly speechless. Big congrats to John!

How was the winner chosen?

Many of you are curious about the how the winner was chosen.

We get it … $1.5 million is a lot of dough.

To guarantee the success and fairness of future sweepstakes, we can’t disclose many specific details about the process, but we can tell you this … The winner was chosen by an independent 3rd-party sweepstakes administrator to ensure that they were fairly selected per the Official Rules.

Using a complex (and proprietary) algorithm for random selection, our 3rd-party administrator conducted a drawing from among all eligible entries. For absolute accuracy, this drawing was then quality checked by another group before being finalized. Once this system of checks and balances had been achieved, Esurance was notified that we had a unoffical winner and the process of verifying that winner began.

Why was the winner from California?

It wouldn’t be fair for us to reject an eligible winning entry just because they live in the great state of California.

Thank you to our fans

And a huge thanks to everyone who Tweeted! We’d like to give you all a million bucks, but unfortunately that’s not really in our budget this year. We can, however, offer you a faster, smarter, and much more efficient approach to car insurance.

Sure, it won’t make you rich overnight, but it could help you save a little cash in the long run.

Related links

See why we chose to give $1.5 million away on Twitter