Archive for the ‘Personal Protection’ Category

Personal Auto Policy Voided Because of Business Driving

Entrepreneurs utilizing personal vehicles for business may want to consider extra insurance protection. Making deliveries and service calls with personal vehicles may limit insurance coverage. This can be true for accidents while working or while on personal business. A local small business owner learned this the hard way. On the way to visit a friend there was a collision resulting in significant damage to the vehicle. Although her personal policy would generally cover the damages the insurance company denied the claim. Personal auto insurance policies extend to protect many small business owners yet in some cases, vehicles employed for specific commercial purposes may be excluded from coverage.

Most small business owners are protected under personal auto insurance policies. In some cases though, the commercial purpose for the vehicle may limit or forfeit coverage. For cars and trucks performing deliveries, equipped with commercial license plates, carrying passengers and emergency vehicles extra insurance coverage is necessary. In this case, the driver owned a small business selling heaters and a small part of that included deliveries.

The owner recently switched insurance carriers online to save money. Checking the box during the quotation process, they reported 30% of the vehicle mileage related to business purposes. Reviewing the insurance claim and the business services after the collision, the claim and repayment were denied. Shocked, the business owner learned the limits of personal auto insurance protection too late. This leaves the owner with a damaged personal and business vehicle, without compensation from the auto insurer.

Business owners mixing personal and business trips with the same vehicle may want to consider extra insurance protection. For more information on personal and commercial auto insurance policies contact an agent. We’re always keeping up with insurance-related topics that may impact health or wallet. For any questions about insurance, call anytime for answers.

Watch Out for Deer

Watch Out for Deer

Fall is here in full effect. With the red and golden landscapes, hot cider and crisp air comes an increase in car insurance claims due to animal-related crashes, especially from deer. November is the peak month for deer-related crashes nationally and Virginia leads with the highest number of occurrences. Because of this, the State Corporation Commission’s Bureau of Insurance encourages all drivers to be careful when driving, especially early or late in the day in areas where deer are present.

Virginia State Insurance Commissioner Jacqueline K. Cunningham reports deer mating season and associated movement patterns are the primary reasons for the increase in deer-related car accidents during the Fall season. She encourages Virginia drivers to watch out for any types of wildlife on or near the highway. Cunningham recommends contacting an insurance agent for specific coverage.

Insurance protection from damages related to accidents involving deer or other animals is optional, commonly grouped with other optional collision protection. This includes situations like flooding, fire, theft, and criminal damage. Bear in mind that basic plans for liability protection will not cover damages to a vehicle or occupants caused by collisions with deer or other animals.

At last half of all accidents involving deer occur during the last quarter of the year; the months of October, November, and December. During this time of year, the beautiful changing seasons draw more traffic to scenic wooded locations. At the same time, deer mating seasons leads to a marked increase in activity, while reduced daylight hours limit roadway visibility. All these lead factors and more lead to an increase of vehicles and deer sharing the same stretch of road.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 1.5 million collisions with deer are recorded each year. These lead to a shockingly-high 200 deaths per year, and more than 10,000 injuries of varying degree. These collisions cause monetary damages in excess of over $1 billion annually.

During the Fall, deer are going to be on the roadway. To help decrease the chances of hitting deer while driving, exercise caution while driving through wooded areas. If you spot deer, slow down and be prepared to stop if the deer enter the road. If a collision is unavoidable, stay in the proper lane decrease speed as much as safely possible to limit damage to the vehicles and persons involved. If a deer is struck, call the police and your insurance agent as soon as safe to do so. Take pictures of the crash site, vehicle damage and any damage to the vehicle. In the case a claim is submitted, these will likely help. Check for leaks, tire pressure, light function, and inspect for damage. If the car feels unsafe to drive,c call for a tow.

We’re always looking for good information about insurance subjects that may impact your health and wallet. Reach out any time for any insurance-related questions.

What Flood Insurance Covers

This year, hurricane season struck in full force. Homeowner’s in many states are beginning the long process of rebuilding after the effects of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. For many, this is the first time filing a claim for flood insurance. Often, after a flood homeowners are surprised to find they lack sufficient insurance coverage. Flood insurance is separate from home yet in some Gulf states, only 20% of homes have flood insurance protection.

For homeowners protected by flood insurance, there may yet be gaps in coverage. Protection through the FEMA-controlled National Flood Insurance Program is limited, leaving some homeowner’s holding the bill. Under the National Flood Insurance Program homeowner’s balance coverage and gaps.

Insurance Coverage Under the National Flood Insurance Plan

  • Life Essentials. Systems such as electrical and plumbing, HVAC, sump pumps and similar. This includes covering water and fuel supplies, and solar energy.
  • Home appliances. Integrated appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, and dishwashers are protected, as well as portable AC and refrigeration.
  • Carpeting and window coverings. Installed carpeting, blinds, and drapes are generally covered.
  • Permanently installed additions. Installed cabinets, bookcases, and wall paneling are covered.
  • Foundation support. Walls which anchor the home in place, and structural staircases.
  • Separate garages. Up to 10% of coverage can be directed toward the garage, leaving 90% for the home.
  • Personal effects. Clothing, furniture, and electronics stored above ground. Additional protection for valuables, up to $2500.

Mudslides and other water damage may be covered, depending on the cause. The program covers above-ground pool leaks and burst pipes, yet neglects other damages such as sewage-backups.

Gaps in the National Flood Insurance Program

Gaps in the program mean some things slip through the insurance safety net. Covered areas on the previous list, when underground, in a crawlspace, or in any other excluded area will be left unprotected. The National Flood Insurance Program caps coverage at $250,000 per house. Prepare for different deductible rates for the home and the possessions within.

Obtaining Flood Insurance

Flood insurance policies take effect 30 days after purchase. The same carries for plans through the government or through an insurance agency. Rates for the FEMA program are set by the government, regardless of location. This means homeowner’s in low-risk areas may be paying geographically above-average rates.

A local flood insurance agent will explain the differences in FEMA and private insurance protection as they apply to your area and home. Home elevation, local weather, proximity to water, home age and more all matter when designing a flood insurance policy.

The Right Comprehensive Flood Insurance

More homeowners are turning to private flood insurance through a local agency. Private flood insurance generally has higher coverage amounts with rates matched to the local area. Often, flood insurance comes as a rider with homeowner’s insurance. Depending on location, private flood insurance may be more affordable than insurance through FEMA. Private plans often cover more than government policies, including damage estimation costs and living expenses, during the claims process.

To learn more about flood insurance protection and the policy options available, contact a local agent. Compare all the options based on your specific needs to find the right flood insurance policy fit. 30-day activation periods mean planning ahead makes all the difference. Protect home and property today with flood insurance.

Have a question about flood insurance, or another insurance topic? Contact an agent for more information. Please send in any article topics you’d like to see featured!

In An Auto Accident? Do This

Car accidents happen to new and old drivers alike. Knowing the steps to take following an accident can ease the insurance process and protect drivers from liability. The correct immediate actions can save insurance and personal worries later. These are the steps to take following an auto accident:

1. Be Safe

Before anything, secure the scene. Safety is the top priority. Exiting vehicles, placing flares or cones, or moving off the roadway may be necessary. Exercise judgment. Remain on the shoulder and away from traffic.

2. Assess for Injuries

Following an auto accident, people may be in shock, unaware of injuries. Check the persons involved. Persons with suspected back injuries should remain in place. For those comfortable doing so, apply first aid where necessary. Any medical staff present may be able to assist.

3. Call 911

As soon as possible, call 911. If performing first aid, direct another person to call emergency services. This is also true for car accidents without any injury, as police records may be important. If alone, call 911 quickly.

4. Gather Information

After completing the preliminary steps, gather information for later insurance purposes later. Collect driver information including insurance carriers. Take photos of the scene, vehicles involved, and license plates. Any information regarding first responders may help. These experiences are harrowing; important details may be lost to memory. Write all information down.

5. Cooperate

Accidents may trigger intense emotional responses. Working together with first responders and other drivers helps accomplish more. Medical personnel train for this.

6: Remain Neutral

Discussing the accident, the time period leading up to it, or personal involvement would be a poor decision. The moments immediately following may be the worst time for discussion. Inform police a statement will be available at a later time. For drivers concerned about involvement, a lawyer may be helpful.

7. Stay Silent on Social Media

The urge for talking about a car accident on social media may be strong, yet this is strongly inadvisable. Detectives and lawyers count on this, scouring social media accounts for incriminating information.

Once things settle, contact an insurance agent. The unexpected happens. Prepare with a plan and comprehensive auto insurance. Always a source for great information about auto insurance and other insurance-related topics, contact an agent for insurance questions.

Does my Auto Policy Protect Me in a Rental Car?

Drive it like a rental, right? Only if you have insurance coverage! Renting a car the question comes always up: buy extra insurance with a rental car or pass? Adding insurance to rental cars adds up – up to over $200.00 a week on top of other costs.

Rental car companies are charging for rental damages and repairs using complex agreements. The good news is: you may already have rental car insurance coverage. Before renting a car, check insurance coverage using these three steps:

1. Read Insurance Policy Documents

Owned insurance coverage is the first place to start. Auto insurance policies may include basic coverage for rental car damage. Even without one, short-term policies are available.

When reading an existing auto policy, ask the following questions:

  • Is there rental car coverage? The first thing to know before moving on.
  • What is my deductible? Often the same as your personal vehicle, but good check.
  • Does my policy cover accidents, fire, theft, and vandalism? Agencies typically require this coverage.
  • Does my policy include rental cars for business travel? If you’re at work or on vacation matters – make sure you’re covered. Your company policy may cover you in event of business travel.
  • Does my auto policy cover extra fees and charges by the rental agency? Towing costs, mileage, decreased value and others add up!
  • Does my car insurance plan pay for the actual value of a rental car? There’s coverage and there’s adequate coverage. Make sure you aren’t going to be left holding a bill.

After reviewing your policy you may find you’re covered, or you might still have gaps to fill. Oftentimes, credit card companies include rental coverage with cardholder benefits. The next place to check for rental car coverage is a credit card issuer.

2. Check Your Credit Card Benefits

Major credit card issuers cover rental car insurance costs within benefits programs. Coverage varies depending on the issuing agency. Some cover varies expenses and fees issued by the rental car company.

Before checking this box, confirm with the credit card company. The largest issuing companies are available using the following toll-free numbers:

  • American Express: 800-338-1670
  • Discover: 800-347-2683;
  • MasterCard: 800-622-7747
  • Visa: 800-847-2911

Rental car insurance coverage through a credit card agency works along with auto insurance coverage, covering the leftovers. The credit card must be used to pay for the rental, for benefits to be available. The cardholder must be the person driving the rental. Credit card companies do not cover all losses, and exotic or luxury rental cars are usually excluded.

After reviewing options through credit card agencies the process is near complete. Before accepting or declining the rental agency insurance, the last step is to read the fine print.

3. Review the Car Rental Agreement

Rental car companies train their staff to make their auto insurance coverage feel mandatory. When reviewing your agreement, take the time to review the fine print. The agreement will state your liability, and where the company takes responsibility. States require rental agencies to provide coverage of differing levels. If using a credit card to rent your vehicle you may already have adequate coverage.

If planning on taking a rental across any state or international borders, be sure to check coverage. State requirements mean coverage changes when crossing over. Personal coverage is not valid in Mexico or other countries (except Canada, usually).

All this considered coverage may leave gaps. Unlicensed drivers, driving on unpaved roads or off-road, racing, DUI and more can all complicate car rental insurance coverage. Vacation is supposed to be fun. Take the worry away with affordable insurance coverage. Contact an agent today about car rental insurance for the next road trip!

Always on the lookout for great information about insurance topics that may impact health and wallet! For any insurance-related questions be sure to call.

Building a Home or Remodeling Get Builders Risk!

 

Nearly every homeowner insures their home against fire, burglary, and the usual risks. The catch? Often, their insurance only covers completed structures. Home construction and remodels aren’t typically covered under standard home insurance policies. If you’re planning to build or renovate on your property, consider builders risk insurance.

What is builders risk insurance

Builders risk insurance policies extend property insurance coverage to include renovations and new builds. Builders risk policies are available for both commercial and residential insurance customers. Your new build faces many of the same risks as your home or business. Insuring against physical loss protects your investment.

What it covers

Builders risk plan coverage ranges depending on the business or home. Typical plans include protection against weather damage, vandalism, and theft. Plans general include all protections but can be tailored to provide specific types of coverage. Faulty workmanship by a licensed contractor may be an example of extra insurance coverage desired.

Why you need it

If you’re planning to build on your property you may need builders risk insurance. Oftentimes city and county codes require you obtain coverage prior to construction. Contractors will not always foot the bill. Homeowners can suffer delays if contractors do not carry builders risk. In many cases, construction cannot begin until the project is insured. Homeowners may wish to carry their own policy regardless to exercise more control over any potential claims.

What you need to know

In some situations, builders insurance may be your only protection. In Texas, for example, builders are not forced to back their work financially – but insurance will. In areas prone to flooding, earthquakes, or other natural disasters ensure contractors are familiar local FEMA regulations.

Protect your property

Construction authorization is required in most Texas cities. The Texas floodplain includes areas unfit for construction. It is imperative contractors check FEMA maps before construction permits are sought. It is recommended homeowners and business owners check maps as well. The best guarantee is always seeking the services of a reputable contractor. No agreement is strong enough to fix poor work.

Contact an agent

Discover whether your construction project has insurance coverage. Plans can be created for to cover many aspects of your build – including loan payback. Talk to your insurance provider today to learn more.

We love information on insurance topics and ideas with a bearing on your health and finances. Please share any topics you find interesting. Contact us for all matters related to general, personal, business and home insurance. We will be more than happy to assist you.

Watch Out For This Before Renting Your Home

Many homeowners are making extra income renting their homes out short-term. Most don’t know the increased insurance risks this carries – until it’s too late. If you’re planning to rent out your home, make sure you know you don’t risk a lawsuit.

More than 60% of homeowners do not know if their insurance covers renters. This is the claim made by Assurant, surveying over 1000 New York homeowners on their home insurance coverage. This survey also found a whopping 40% of homeowners were not sure if they would liable should a visitor injure themselves on their property.

Homeowners, this may come as a shock: You are likely liable if someone hurts themselves on your property. Most home insurance policies exclude claims made by guests on your property. Vice President of Technology at Assurant, Kunal Malhotra, said minor problems (like breaking a television) and large problems (such as falling off a deck) are very different from an insurance standpoint.

Limited Coverage for Rentals

Before you decide to rent your home short-term, make sure you’re actually allowed to. Many properties and home-owners associations bar short-term rentals. Some providers allow policyholders to rent out their house for short stays (a week, for example) when informed ahead of time. You may need to add a rider or extra coverage to your current plan, covering any losses or liability that may occur from renters.

For homeowners renting out their homes often, a policy update may be necessary. If you find your rental is popular, you may want to consider hotel insurance coverage. Conventional homeowner policies do not cover business activities, such as operating a rental. Renting to a single guest for long periods of time requires a landlord plan be included.

Increasing Your Coverage

No one wants to pay the high costs of a lawsuit. Contact your insurance provider to see which policy options best suit your needs.
Some short-term rental websites provide insurance coverage to homeowners. For example, homeowners listing with Airbnb have access to coverage up to $1 million per rental.

Vacasa is another holiday rental website that will provide up to $1 million in home liability coverage, and also up to $10,000 in property insurance if you have coverage with Assurant. You must have the right coverage to avoid paying high costs in case of a lawsuit.

If you plan on renting out your home, make sure you have the insurance coverage you need. Homeowners insurance policy coverage varies – you may not be covered for vacation rentals. Talk to an agent today to see what options will suit you best.

Have a topic you think we should look into? We are always looking for ways to help your health and your wallet. If you have any insurance-related questions contact us today.

Adding a Teen Driver? Do This

Recent findings by experts in the insurance industry show that the cost of including a teen on a car insurance policy is decreasing.

A few years ago, including a teen driver on one’s auto insurance would have added about 85% to one’s policy only 5 years ago. Currently, the rate change is about 78%.

While an improvement it is still a substantial amount. So why is the inclusion of the teen driver seen as an added risk? The main reason is that the adolescent driver is more likely to be involved in accidents than more experienced drivers are.

Indeed, reports by the National Highway Traffic Safety and Security Administration indicate that auto accidents are the main cause of death among teen drivers. About 2000 of youthful drivers died in auto related accidents in 2015, which was a significant rise of about 10% from the previous year.

The premium paid for adding a teen driver can be particularly painful when the teen involved is male. There is a major discrepancy between the insurance cost for male teens and their female counterparts. (On average adding a male driver increases costs by 89%, compared to only 66% for female teens. This cost also varies depending on the state.

Why are rates Falling?

  • There are fewer teen drivers getting drivers licenses.
  • Technology has made cars safer to drive. This is especially true for newer vehicles with advanced collision prevention systems.
  • Graduated driving programs impose greater restrictions on young drivers until they have more experience behind the wheel.

It is important when adding a teen to your car insurance that you work to prevent accidents so your rates don’t go even higher.

  • Have a strong commitment from your teen that they will not touch their mobile device while driving. (There is new technology on the way that can disable mobile phone apps while a vehicle is in motion.)
  • Instead of purchasing a “personal” car for a teenager, purchase a “family” car that they are allowed to use. It belongs to the house, not to them. Install monitoring devices to ensure speed limits are adhered to and that the car is being properly driven. Have a firm understanding that the care may be used with permission and if the rules are followed. This can also be tied to maintaining excellent grades, etc. Upon graduation, the car could be gifted to the teen as they move to college.
  • Be sure the car has plenty of automated safety features to protect your teen, their passengers, and others on the road. Airbags are a good start. Yet more modern cars are so much more capable of keeping drivers safe.

What can you do to reduce teen auto insurance costs?

  • The first year is a teen driver’s most important. A parent/guardian needs to take an active role in helping to establish good driving habits. These include how to handle a vehicle, show respect & courtesy to other drivers, and how to stay safe on the road.
  • Many Insurance companies offer classes for teens. Successfully completing these can reduce rates. In addition, insurance carriers often offer discounts on insurance if teens maintain good grades.
  • Many states have graduated driving programs. These limit the driving capabilities of younger drivers, particularly night time driving. Be sure your teen abides by these programs.

Naturally, we’re here to help answer your insurance questions and to make certain you and your teen always have the best insurance at the most affordable rate possible.

Check your Home Insurance to Be Sure You Are Protected From Disasters

Fewer than 22% of homeowners see changes in the environment or natural disasters as being an important factor to consider when updating their homeowner’s insurance coverage.

This information was found in a new study done by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). With the increase in natural disasters, the NAIC encourages homeowners to think about their risks and take the time to understand what coverages are included in their existing insurance policies.

For example, recent climate changes in the northern area of Nevada have been determined as the underlying cause of a catastrophic flood. State officials warn that the worst may not be over as they are preparing for additional flooding.

Another example: There is an increased risk for mud and rock slides because of erosion in the areas that have been affected by increasing wildfires.

Damage to your house or property caused by such disasters may not be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy. Instead, you’ll need a special policy that offers specific coverage for things like flood insurance coverage.

Between 2005 to 2015 natural disasters caused roughly $24 billion in insurance claims. However, the study performed by the NAIC found that 56% of homeowners have not read through their homeowner insurance policies in over a year. Additionally, 14% are not sure if they have ever evaluated their plan.

It is important you review your policy with your agent to be sure you have the coverage you need.

Prior to Natural Disasters

We recommend asking yourself these questions each year:

Is my home in increased danger of:

* Floods,
* Wildfires,
* Earthquakes?

Next ask yourself:

* Has anything changed in my house?
* Has there been any change in the total number of people living in my house or the value of the personal belongings in the house?
* Have I added any major acquisitions such as art or other valuable belongings?
* Have I had any updates to the house such as renovations, an updated security system, or any other major changes to the home?

Then ask:

* Are there any new fire prevention or protection solutions offered in my area?
* Do I have a fire safety zone around my home? Has it been adequately maintained?

And remember, our team of insurance professionals is at the ready to help you. Please reach out if you have questions.

Telling White Lies Can Void Your Car Insurance

Many motorists feel car insurance costs are higher than they want to pay. Rates are indeed on the rise. But some folks have taken to telling “white lies” to mislead insurance companies and get lower car insurance rates.

A nationwide survey conducted by a leading online financial firm showed that almost 85% of survey participants had given misleading information to keep the cost of their car insurance as low as possible. This figure is far higher than the estimates previously thought.

Drivers have come up with all sorts of creative story-telling. According to the survey quoted above, the following ranked as the basis for the top five “white” lies that drivers used to lower insurance costs:

1. Failure to accurately report on accident history and previous insurance claims.

2. Falsification of details regarding where the car is parked overnight.

3. The use or purpose of the motor vehicle – family, social, business, traveling, etc.

4. Falsification of the estimated annual mile driven.

5. Failure to properly identify who the primary driver of the vehicle is.

Why mislead on the above?

The main motivation for these little white lies is monetary. The insured knows very well that tinkering with the truth can save money on premium costs.

However, this is a risky move. Carriers are on the lookout for these and if they catch you, your insurance policy can be nullified. That can be especially problematic if you make a claim and the carrier determines you didn’t tell the truth on your insurance application. They will not honor your claim and you’ll be unprotected.

And remember, you’ll be on the hook for more than the damages to your car. You could be responsible for medical expenses of everyone involved in an accident found to be your fault.

A “little white lie” to save a few bucks simply isn’t worth the risk.

And that is not all. That little white lie could very well get you into trouble with the law. It is a criminal offense to falsify the details required by an insurance underwriter as you are seeking for a car insurance policy. Insurance fraud is a thing best avoided.

And remember, this applies to who is driving the car the most as well. Many parents think they should list themselves as the primary driver on a car that their teen mostly drives. This again is the kind of “white lie” that can result in all the previously mentioned problems.

What are the Long Term Effects of Non-disclosure?

As discussed above, failure to give all the necessary details on an insurance application can result in a claim not being honored as well as potentially being taken to court for fraud. YIKES!

And if you’re “found out”, such non-disclosures can have a negative impact on your ability to get a great rate on future policies.

The good news is that our team of specialists strive to help you find the best rates on auto insurance by obtaining multiple quotes from different carriers. We make insurance companies compete for your business and that helps you pick the best mix of budget sensitive features to fit your exact needs.

If you need to review your auto insurance, please reach out to us. We’re here to help!

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