If a Neighbor’s Tree Falls into your Yard causing Property Damage, Who is Responsible? Q and A

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Question: If a tree in a neighbor’s yard falls and damages a fence, a car, your roof…is it their responsibility to cover the damage?

Answer: Long story, short. No. It is not their fault that the tree fell. In most cases the tree was there before the fence was put up. It is understandable that trees get larger over time and the fence may have not been close. However, trees tend of fall over when the wind blows of it is heavy with ice and can fall into your yard.

If the tree is healthy and there would be no danger of it falling other than outside sources(i.e. weather or other circumstances out of the norm) in most cases there would be no negligence on the part of the neighbor if the tree does fall.

While the above is the most common scenario. If you are in a situation where you note that there is a diseased, dying or dead tree that poses a danger and the owner is aware, there could be liability. However, you would mostly likely need prior documentation. Send a certified letter that there is a diseased or dead tree that could potentially fall and damage your property or injure someone. Send a certified letter and keep a copy and the mail receipt. You can also document with photos. Liability is often denied if the tree is near the back of the lot and the owner says they were unaware. That is why the above documentation would be needed and would be the difference between you covering the damages or your neighbor(or his insurance company)taking care of the damages.

Most neighbors want to be, well, neighborly, and would address any potential dangers or hazard in conversation. But you may want o follow up a with a friendly written request to remove the tree.

Photo attributed to: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Important Tips for Credit Card Fraud Prevention

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Credit card fraud can be an easy form of identity theft for getting such information as credit card number, name and address. This can be the recipe of identity theft.

Here are some ways to prevent this since we all have credit cards and consequently the exposure to potential identity fraud.

  • Check credit card statements carefully for fraudulent charges
  • Destroy all unwanted credit card offers. You can also request that credit bureaus not sell your name to credit card companies by calling 888-567-8688
  • Keep track of credit card receipts. Some can have your credit card number printed on them. Which can be an easy target.
  • Activate new cards upon receiving them and shred or cut up expired cards before discarding them.
  • Shred sensitive documents
  • Review your credit report annually

These simple steps could help you avoid being a victim of  credit card fraud.

 

A personal Reflection for Memorial Day from Lynn Mathis

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Memorial Day

When I think of Memorial Day I can’t help but recall an experience had several years ago when I accompanied our church youth group as a chaperone for a mission trip to Bluefield, West Virginia.  One of the “jobs” assigned to  my group was at an abandoned cemetery. Three years earlier a small group of men decided to reclaim and restore the cemetery. We saw pictures of the before …which was an aerial view of a mass of green vegetation, with no indication of a road much less any graves. After volunteers working just about each weekend since, the cemetery was in an amazingly different shape. Prior volunteers had hauled away tons of debris… the park had become a local dumping ground. One gentleman explained as they would clear a path to a reclaimed grave, countless times the next time they came, the newly reclaimed grave would have flowers, placed from a loved one who had not been able to get close to the site for years.

My task was to clean  tombstones. I had a well used brush with a bucket of bleach and water. The tombstones I had the best success with were those placed to mark the graves of veterans.  The stones were simple, straight and I think the type of marble used cleaned up better than most of the other stones. But I also wonder if they did not clean up better because I put more effort, more elbow grease into those stones. As I scrubbed I thought of the serviceman whose grave was marked. I expressed my thanks as best I could, by cleaning his stone.  This remains one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had and a memory that comes to mind when we take time as a country to remember those people who have served our country so I can enjoy my freedom today. I have no way of knowing if these men lost their life while serving our country, but I know they were willing to if necessary.

Williams Turner &Mathis will be closed for Memorial Day. We hope you will have a safe and happy holiday, and take a few minutes to reflect on who this holiday was set aside to honor. God Bless America.

Lynn Mathis

Is Your Golf Cart Covered?

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Golf Carts are for the gold course, right? Well…yes but they are increasingly being used as more.

They are used to travel within the neighborhood or neighboring properties. They are often used in gated waterfront vacation homes, traveling within a retirement community, or just rolling around your community. While they are not normally speedy vehicles, they’re still moving which means they can cause damage or injury. Should either of these events occur the car owner needs to have the proper insurance coverage.

Good news. Homeowners policies do take on some of the liability associated with golf carts. However, these conditions are specific and somewhat limited. Here are some scenarios in which the car would be covered under a homeowners policy:

  • While the user is playing golf on the golf course, as well a leisure activities on the golf course
  • They cover the car while crossing public roads to get from one side of the course to the other
  • It covers the cart inside a private residential community and if the community has authority over any of the roads the carts would be permitted on these as well(for example: if a vacation home is in a community where they have designate certain cart paths on the road to cross to get to the beach)
  • They are also covered at your residence

There is a recent local example of this. Avondale Estates has ‘okayed’ the use of golf carts or low speed vehicles (even unlicensed)on the streets within the city. If your cart is insured under your homeowner’s policy, liability coverage most likely does not apply when taking the golf cart into the streets. Make sure before you take those carts into the street it is covered.

So what if you are using your golf cart in a scenario other than the ones listed above? What should you do and what coverages are available?

  • First of all, speak to your agent. Find out what coverages you have an if they are enough. They will also have options with their carriers for potential coverages to make sure your car has proper and adequate coverages
  • Endorsements can be added to your homeowner’s policy, this is meant for carts with 4 passengers or less and for carts going under 25mph.  Endorsements can cover a wide range of causes such as fire, theft, vandalism, collision etc…and is subject to a deductible
  • Auto- you can endorse or some carriers will write a specific policy for the golf cart. These can be used for cars that can be used in roadways and the same coverages can be applied to carts with this policy as with your auto policy

If you have a golf cart be sure to read over these scenarios and ask your agent if you are not sure if your cart is covered.

5 Most Stolen Vehicles

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While new technologies have made car thefts decline some in recent years it is still a crime that is prevalent. Nation Insurance Crime Bureau(NICB) warns that car thieves have updated their methods with new technologies.  Smart keys, stolen identities for car loans and switching id numbers on vehicles are a few of these ways. Here is the list the NICB put on of most frequently stolen vehicles of 2014.

5. Toyota Camry, Number stolen in 2014: 14,605.

4. Chevrolet Pickup (full size),Number stolen in 2014: 23,196.

3. Ford Pickup (full size), Number stolen in 2014: 28,680 thefts.

2. Honda Civic, Number stolen in 2014: 43,936.

1. Honda Accord, Number stolen in 2014: 51,290 thefts

Do you need to purchase a damage waiver for a rental car?

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Rented a car lately? Did they push you to purchase the damage waiver(in house insurance) on your rental? What exactly are they offering? Provides coverage if the rental car is damaged or stolen.

But do you need this waiver that costs additionally per day?

Possibly not…. if you have full coverage on your personal auto policy. If you have full coverage on any of your vehicles(meaning there is collision and comprehensive available) that coverage can apply to the rental car. If this coverage does not apply to any vehicles on your personal policy the waiver may be something to consider.

As always, if you have any questions about this be sure to give your agent a call and they can answer any questions regarding getting a rental and applicable coverages on your personal policy.

8 Ways to Avoid Backover Accidents

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With the warm weather more people are out and about which means more children are playing in driveways and streets. Back over accidents typically occur  when a vehicle is backing out of a driveway or parking spaces and backs into a child without seeing him or her.

  1. Be sure children are properly supervised when in areas where vehicles could be moving.
  2. Be aware of small children -the smaller the child the less likely you are to see him or her.
  3. Teach kids not to play around vehicles. Ever.
  4. Walk around vehicles to make sure a child or any of his or her toys are around before backing.
  5. Lock vehicles so kids cannot get into vehicles and put the vehicle into gear.
  6. Check surroundings and assume children are around
  7. When backing do so very SLOWLY with windows down so you can hear sounds and if any kids could potentially be around. Check and double check as kids can dart behind vehicle and there are also in blind spots while backing.
  8. Do not rely solely on back up detection and camera devices in vehicles as they do not take the place of personal observation and walk-arounds to make sure there are no kids around before backing.

10 Most Expensive Cars to Insure in 2016

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We get it, owning a sports car is fun…who hasn’t dreamed of driving a car with lots of horsepower? It all sounds good but the insurance premium on that dream could hold a pretty steep price tag.

Many factors go into premiums including price of the vehicle and price of repairs, both of which are high on these models. Insure.com and Quadrant Information Services have calculated average premiums with six large carriers and in 10 zip codes in all states. These factors are estimated and could differ within your state and with your personal information.

Here it the list of most expensive cars to insured in 2016:

10. Porsche 911 Careera GT3 RS, Average annual premium: $3,212
9. Audi RS7 Quattro Prestige, Average annual premium: $3,229
8. LandRover Range Rover SV Autobiography Black LWP, Average annual premium: $3,245
7. BMW M6 Gran Coupe, Average annual premium: $3,309
6. Nissan GT-R Nismo, Average annual premium: $3,476
5. Porsche Panamera S Executive, Average annual premium: $3,484
4. Mercedes S63 AMG 4Matic, Average annual premium: $3,513
3. Mercedes S600 BI-T, Average annual premium: $3,539
2. Mercedes SL65 AMG, Average annual premium: $3,797
1. Dodge GT Viper, Average annual premium: $4,048

 

10 Least Expensive Vehicles to Insure in 2016

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It’s that time of year again…time to find out from the Insurance Information Institute what the top ten least expensive cars to insure in 2016 are. This is based on such factors as car value, close of repairs and safety ratings of the cars.

Insure.com with Quadrant Information Services calculated the average 2016 auto premiums for these vehicles across the states factoring the the top 10 zip codes per state.

10. Nissan Frontier S King Cab Pickup, Average annual premium: $1,204

9. Jeep Cherokee Sport Utility 2WD, Average annual premium: $1,203

8. Buick Encore Sport Tour 2WD, Average annual premium: $1,200

7. Ford Escape S 2WD, Average annual premium: $1,194

6. Jeep Compass Sport 2WD, Average annual premium: $1,190

5. Jeep Wrangler Sport 4WD, Average annual premium: $1,181

4. Jeep Patriot Sport 2WD, Average annual premium: $1,180

3. Dodge Grand Caravan AVP 2WD, Average annual premium: $1,174

2. Honda CR-V LX, Average annual premium: $1,170

1. Honda Odyssey LX, Average annual premium: $1,113

Risk Management- Best Practices Insurance Companies Look for that Lead to Fewer Claims and Lower Premiums

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There is more to an agent to client relationship that just offering and providing coverage. Insurance companies look for certain processes, plans and measures in place to prevent claims. An agent partners with you on this process of risk management, if proper process are in place to mitigate risks, less claims happen and lower premiums occur. By learning what insurance companies look for and areas that can be properly managed for potential risks you can benefit your business as well as provide safety and enjoyment to all involved.

Here are a few areas and tips to get a head started on the process of Risk Management:

Physical Surroundings

  • A few housekeeping items: Good indicators in your office are cleanliness, storage and well maintained office equipment. A neat and orderly premises implies pride of ownership and that the location is being managed properly.This also cuts down on workplace accidents due to untidy work conditions. Surveillance cameras outdoors at large offices can also be a good safety measure to review if any incidents do occur.

Office Indicators

  • Employee Selection: Completing background checks,new hire orientation, and proper screening are assessed to insure that employees receive ongoing training for job specific skills and safety measures. This is specifically true of drivers that could be added to the company policy, often MVRs will be run and insurance eligibility will be completed regardless. Proper hiring, recruitment and training processes are important to the risk management process.
  • Accounting:Make sure everything is up to date. Reviewing financial statements,keeping detailed and accurate records, tax forms and control systems are important. Make sure all data is fact checked and matched on all records..also make sure the company is candid on finances and easy to track for audit purposes.
  • Building Security: Is there a burglar alarm, is the building sprinklered, is all equipment properly maintained?…These are some questions you can ask about your building safety. Security protocols may be necessary if there is child care in the facility such as check in procedures for the entrance. Also, are there emergency protocols for fire, weather or medical emergencies and are these practiced with employees? Some things to think about in terms of building security.
  • Incident reporting: Make sure there is a plan in place for this. Additionally, make sure management and staff know how to initiate and report accordingly.

These are just a few ways to get a head start on the process of risk management and the benefits in work environment and insurance credits to lower premiums. For more information and consultation on this, please contact your agent.