Resolve to Review your Insurance Coverage this New Year

Around this time when you are reviewing budget and goals, make sure to review your personal insurance needs. Having the right coverages is important and what you need can be different at various stages of life. It is a balance, you want to be paying a competitive rate but you also want to make sure that you have the right insurance coverages should you need them.

Homeowner’s Insurance

  • Have any additions or improvements been made to your home? If you remodeled a kitchen, bathroom or possibly finished a basement this can increase the amount insurance needed on your home to reflect this.
    • This can also apply outside as well. If you add a pool, fence or detached buildings this can also affect property values.
  • Made any big purchases? Jewelry, art, heirloom furniture etc…. those items would need to be scheduled on your policy to be covered appropriately. Limits included on the policy are often not adequate on large value items.
  • Let your agent know about any resident changes such as a pet or if there is a room mate situation.
  • On the flip side, to save a little cash, think about loss prevention. Did you add an alarm, whole-house generator, or an in home safe? Some insurance carriers offer discounts for this. Don’t forget the indirect component either. If a fire department recently put a hydrant closer to your home that can make a difference also.

Auto Insurance

  • New teen driver don’t forget to price this out. Is it cheaper on a separate policy or on the parent’s? Also, ask about carrier discounts. If your teen takes a driver course or has good grades they can qualify for a discount.
  • Think about the age of your vehicle, if it has some age and wear (generally around 10 years old, depending on level of care), you may consider dropping the comprehensive and collision from the policy and just maintain liability on that vehicle. Something you can discuss with your agent.
  • Discuss adequate limits with your agent. State minimum limits are often not large enough to cover certain losses.

Life Insurance

  •  Life events such as the birth of a child, marriages, job loss and other family status changes may mean you want to now get one or change the terms. Of course, the sooner the better on a life insurance policy for the pocketbook. But if any of the above changes occur don’t forget about this coverage, it is very important for your family. Discuss the life insurance options with your agent to see what is best for your and your family.
  • If you have a change in income you may want to adjust. You may need to replace more income if your salary goes up significantly. On the converse you may need to lower the limit to keep the policy if you experience a job loss or decrease in pay.

Remember that your insurance agent needs to know about these life changes discussed above as they effect coverage types needed.

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Things to Know about Ridesharing and Insurance: More and More Options

Uber and Lyft drivers have unique needs when it comes to car insurance. In addition to traditional personal liability and full coverage to cover property damage, drivers using their cars to make money have other things to consider.

While carpooling and transporting passengers is certainly covered on your personal policy, ridesharing uses such as picking up passengers for a fee calls for different coverage types. This is considered business use and as such in a different category then your personal policy. So the first coverage gap is exposed.

What does Uber and Lyft insurance cover? This one you will have to do a little research on depending who you are driving for. Some cover from when the app is turned on, however, many cover from when a fare is accepted to the rider being dropped off and the ticket is closed. Some contain an additional coverage gap and only cover when the fare is picked up to when they are at the destination. This creates a gap for when you drive to pick up the fare for business use in your vehicle. Furthermore, with some you must file the claim with your insurance carrier  first before theirs would respond.

The summary of all of the above discussion and potential coverage gaps is that is you are driving for a ridesharing company you need to have the correct coverage. A simple personal auto policy on the vehicle used for ridesharing is not adequate.

There are a few options to go about getting the correct coverage:

  • A commercial auto policy for the vehicle being used for ridesharing purposes. However, this option can be the more pricey option. However, this still may be the best option depending on the discussion above regarding certain gaps in coverage that could exist for the ridesharing company you are working with.
  • More and more insurance companies are offering endorsements to your personal auto policy at economic prices for the vehicle. WTM now has access to several carriers who have this option including Safeco and Foremost Insurance.
  • Be sure to discuss with your agent which of these options will be right depending on your situation.

What does and should the endorsements include?

  • The endorsement applies to auto for which this endorsement is listed.
  • The endorsement is extension of coverages on the policy and applies during such times as when the insured is available to accept requests in the vehicle and ends when the insured driver and covered auto are in a prearranged ride or fare. (Prearranged ride refers to when the driver accepts the request and ends when the rider departs from the personal auto)

Please contact your WTM agent if you have more questions about this or obtaining this coverage.

Furniture and TV Tip-Over Prevention Tips

With little kids around climbing on the dresser, standing on a shelf to to try and reach a higher one and all of the other playing they do around furniture. Doing what you want to make sure the furniture or TV does not tip over onto your child is very important. Consider these tips when you get new furniture or move furniture into different rooms, don’t forget to secure these furniture pieces around your small child.

TV Safety

  • Place TV on low sturdy bases
  • Anchor the furniture as well as the TV. The TV should be as far back on the furniture as possible.
  • Anchoring the TV to the wall is also a safer option
  • Keep toys or remote controls that might be attractive items for kids to grab off TV stands or high reaching furniture
  • Keep TV or cable cords out of the reach of children

Securing Furniture

  • Use brackets, braces or wall straps to secure unstable or furniture that is easily tipped to the wall. There are a lot of options available to secure furniture to the wall
  • Consider putting child safety clasps on drawers as kids can climb on drawers and cause them to tip
  • There are also stops than can be place on drawers to make sure they cannot open all of the way out. Multiple drawers being out can cause the weight to shift and tip over
  • Keep heavier item on lower shelves or bottom drawers

What does it mean to have an Asset Insured at Replacement Cost Value vs. Actual Cash Value?

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There are several ways that insurance companies can determine values and amounts to be paid in the event of a loss. Two common forms for doing this are replacement cost and actual cash value.

What are these?

Replacement Cost Value(RCV)-is the amount the insurance company would pay to replace an asset at present value. It is the cost to replace the property of comparable quality used for the same purpose. The only exception could be if the item can be repaired for less. Policy terms would define this.

Actual Cash Value(ACV)- this one is a bit more tricky. It is the cost to replace an item, less depreciation. This is also called “Fair Market Value” This is the amount you would expect to get if they item were sold in the marketplace. The depreciation is calculated using formulas that account for the category and age as well as the wear and tear. As this produces less pay out than RCV ,it generates less insurance premium.

What is an example? 

If a valuable such as camera or computer were stolen, if it were insured as RCV then the policy will reimburse for the  full replacement cost of new or like kind. If insured as ACV, the wear and tear will factored into reimbursement whereas with RCV, it will not. With ACV they will go through the process or apply the formula for calculating the depreciation. ACV is the the replacement cost less the depreciation. With ACV  wear and tear as well as “fair market value” will be assessed.

If this comes up on your policy make sure to ask your agent about the differences in coverage to find out what is best coverage for you.

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6 Examples where Umbrella Insurance is needed

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Think any of these apply? You may need to consider adding an Umbrella.

  1. Have kids or teenagers living with you?
    • What if your teenage has an auto accident involving multiple vehicles. If property damage and injuries go beyond your underlying auto limits. The Umbrella would kick in.
    • What if your child threw a baseball through a neighbor’s window and damage a valuable on the window seal.
  2. Pets
    • Dogs bites. If your dog gets loose and bites an individual not only could that create medical bills but also lost wages if they have to take any time off work. This would be somewhere where an Umbrella could come into play.
  3. Social Media
    • Active on online blogs, Facebook or any of the other social media platforms? You could be open to suits for Libel or slander. For example, if you reviewed a restaurant on your blog that they felt was a misrepresentation.
  4. Entertain Guests
    • Some examples could be swimming pools and trampolines. This includes potential for medical and liability claims.
  5. Passenger Injuries
    • If a passenger is injured in a car accident where you are the driver. The umbrella can chip in with any mounting medical costs over the personal auto bodily injury limits.
  6. Landlords
    • If you own properties it can open you up to potential risk. Any lawsuits regarding the maintenance would fall under this category.

Fire Prevention Week: What should you know?

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Since is Fire Prevention Week. Here are some notes and tips on common causes and ways to prevent this event.

  • Smoke Alarms
    • Change them every 10 years
    • Change the batteries twice a year(Doing this when the time changes can help you remember)
    • This decreases chances on anyone dying in a house fire by 50 percent
    • Smoke alarms need to be on all floors of the home or building
  • Avoid Likely Causes
    • Plugging too many cords into outlets are a few
    • Blow out candles before leaving the house
    • Leave Matches out of reach of children
    • Leave space heaters at least 3 feet from anything flammable
    • Have fire place screens set up
    • Keep any cooking utensils and towels away from the flame on the stove
    • Make sure there is a fire extinguisher in the house and you know how to use it
  • Other Notes:
    • Have an Escape plan you have practiced with your children
    • In the event of a fire, leave immediately, Do not go back in
    • If you live in an apartment, pull the alarm
    • If you are stuck, cover areas where smoke might come in and call 911. Leave a signal at the window to let the fire department know where you are at

Photo Credit: https://goo.gl/YZyGtO

 

Be in the know about Flood Insurance

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Most people look to see if they are in a flood zone and if not they do not think they need flood insurance. Most are in some kind of flood zone, some are just more severe than others. As a home owner this may mean you should consider this coverage, just because the area has not flooded recently does not mean it is not susceptible.

Here are some things to keep in mind about flood insurance.

  • It is not included in your homeowner’s policy. It is a separate policy. Keep in mind your homeowner’s policy does not offer any coverage for flood. Your agent can get flood insurance for your home through the National Flood Insurance Program.
  • What you buy is what you get. Make sure to discuss with your agent if you want it to include things like dwelling and contents coverage.
  • Where you live, determines the cost. The flood zones effect premiums. The higher the risk, the higher the premium. Also keep in mind you do not only need flood insurance in coastal areas. Many floods that occur each year are not in coastal regions.
  • Lenders may require flood insurance if you live in certain zones. If you own your house or are paying cash this coverage will be up to you. So make sure you discuss this with your agent to make sure you have the coverage needed for the area that you live in.

The National Flood Insurance Program does keep the flood zones maps up to date. If you want to check your address to see if it is in a flood zone or that if you already have flood insurance, that it is being insured at the right level, this may be helpful to you. Here is the link.

Remember that your agent is a good source for any questions about Flood Insurance.

Part 2: 10 Least Ticketed cars on the Road by Model

There are a lot of factors that go into choosing the car you may want to drive: mileage, repair costs, aesthetics, performance and that is just to name a few. How about how likely it is to be ticketed?

Once again Your Mechanic looked at data from insurance.com to determine if there is a correlation between car model and likelihood to be ticketed. There were two components, the first was drivers. They looked to see which drivers were typically getting more tickets based on models, luxury cars, midsize, SUV, sports cars etc… Also by habit, including how many moving violations and the associated vehicles with these.

Here is the list of 10 least ticketed cars by both the percent of vehicle owners as well as by the model. Data from Your Mechanic.

10. Land Rover, Range Rover 10.9%

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9. BMW 320I, 9.9%

8. Audi A3 2 Series, 9.2%

7. GMC Savana, 8.8%

6. Cadillac Escalade, 8.1%

5. Chevrolet Express, 7.7%

4. Cadillac ATS, 6.2%

3. Acura ILX, 5.6%

2. Lexus IS350, 3.4%

1.Buick Encore, 3.2%

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FYI- Here’s the 10 most ticketed cars by model according to a study from “Your Mechanic”

This is a study from data analysts at Your Mechanic. If you have read this blog long, you know there are certain factors that contribute to insurance premiums on your personal auto. One factor you may not have thought about lately is the number of moving violations that may be on your driving record and associated with a certain vehicle.

According to some studies from insurance.com speeders can tend to prefer certain car models. The study that came up with this list expanded on this looking at models such as trucks, compacts, SUV’s , luxury, compact etc… and used this to get some data on what drivers are likely to be ticketed and vehicle types.

Traffic violations can differ from state to state. The most common from which they derived the list was running red lights, driving without headlights, illegal turns, illegal parking, running a stop sign and speeding. Having said all of the above, here is the list from My Mechanic of the 10 most ticketed vehicles by model and percent of car owners.

10. Toyota Tacoma,30.1%

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9. Acura 3.0S/CL,30.1%

8. Dodge Stratus SXT, 30.2%

7. Volkswagen GTI, 30.3%

6. Mazda 3S, 30.3%

5. Chevrolet Monte Carlo LS/LT, 30.8%

4. Volkswagen Jetta GL, 31.4%

3. Dodge Charger, 32.1%

2. Nissan 350Z, 32.5%

1. Lexus ES300,33.4%

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Some Tips for Small Business Owners to save on A/C bills

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Summer  heat and humidity require many hours of the air conditioning system running as well as the dollar signs. This high-cost form of energy draining can be a big operating expense of small businesses in the summer. Here are some seasonal tips and maintenance suggestions to reduce energy costs and prevent any problems with the systems themselves. These maintenance tips can be performed on your own and some by a qualified technician service on an annual basis.

  • Make sure areas surrounding the A/C units are clear of any debris
  • Use a programmable thermostat set at higher temperatures during off hours
  • Draw shades and blinds to minimize hot sunlight coming into the room
  • Use ceiling fans where possible to reduce the need for A/C
  • Use efficient lighting systems that are energy efficient
  • Have a professional technician come out each year to check for efficiency
    • Electrical connections
    • Signs of corrosion or damage
    • Compressor and condenser are in proper working oil and function
    • Clean and check for proper refrigerant levels

Here are a few ideas we hope you find helpful with August just kicking off and the heat that comes this month!

Photo Credit: Plano Air Conditioning Repair Company and link to www.sammsheatingandair.com/