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Monthly Archives

September 2013

911 BEHIND THE WHEEL — AND AUTO INSURANCE

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

Strokes, heart attacks, seizures, undiagnosed diabetic comas, or other medical emergencies trigger auto accidents every day.

If you suffer a medical emergency while driving, an Auto policy can provide financial protection against your losses.

Consider these scenarios:

You have a medical crisis behind the wheel that injures another driver and damages their vehicle. Depending on the circumstances, your insurance company might or might not cover a Bodily Injury Liability or Property Damage claim. Many states allow a medical emergency defense against Liability claims, provided the driver hasn’t had previous health problems or shown negligence (for example, if a diabetic hadn’t taken insulin and went into a coma behind the wheel).

You experience a medical emergency while driving and damage your own car – say by running into a sign pole. Repairs will be paid by your Collision coverage, if you carry it (Bear in mind that many drivers, especially those with older cars, choose not to buy Collision insurance).

Your car is damaged by a driver who has a medical emergency. In most cases, the other driver’s Liability insurance will pay for the repair. However, if the driver’s insurance company decides that he or she isn’t liable for the accident, your Collision coverage will pick up the tab.

An Auto policy will remain in effect after a medical emergency because insurance follows the car, not the driver. Depending on the nature of the problem, a doctor might recommend that you don’t drive anymore. If your doctor OKs driving after you recover, the insurance company can raise your rates, impose a premium surcharge, or not renew your policy when it expires.

To learn more about how Auto insurance can help protect your pocketbook, just give us a call. We’re always ready to help!

KEEPING HOME BURGLARS AT BAY

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

Despite a dramatic rise in the level of home break-ins, nearly one in three homeowners (30%) don’t take basic steps to protect their homes. That’s the bottom line of a survey sponsored by Nationwide Insurance of more than 1,000 policyholders coast-to-coast who carry Homeowners or Condo insurance.

“We conducted this survey to identify common behaviors that could expose home and personal property to thieves,” says Pete Lore, Nationwide’ Associate Vice President of Property Technical Claims. “What we found was that homeowners can, and should, do more to protect their belongings.”

To help keep your home safe from thieves – and, in some cases, benefit from significant premium discounts – we’d recommend that you:

  • Put deadbolts on doors and always lock them (nearly one third of all thieves enter homes through front doors, which are often unlocked, according to National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association).
  • Make sure that doors and windows (on all levels) are locked.
  • Install a home security system and keep it on 24-7 (one in five respondents to the Nationwide survey turned off their systems during the day – even though that’s when home burglars are busiest).
  • Have motion-detection lights on the outside of your property.
  • Do not hide a spare key outside the home – burglars know the most common hiding places.

If you’re going on vacation, tell police or the neighborhood watch about trip plans and ask them to drive by your house to see if it’s secure. While you’re away, put newspaper and mail delivery on hold or have someone pick them up for you. Keep quiet online about your travel plans; bad guys often use social media to target people who are out of town.

For a comprehensive complimentary, review of your home security needs, just give us a call at any time.

TRAVEL INSURANCE: TEN QUESTIONS TO ASK

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

Preparing for a vacation can be one of the most exciting times in life. However, it comes with responsibilities beyond buying plane tickets and making hotel reservations.

For example, it’s all too easy to overlook the need for Travel Insurance. These “‘peace of mind” policies can protect travelers against everything from trip cancellation, and travel delays to lost luggage, medical emergencies (most Health policies have only limited coverage abroad) – and more.

Because coverages and rates vary widely, it can be difficult to choose the policy that’s best for you – and your pocketbook. To help you make the right decision, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I have a tight flight connection?
  2. Am I going to be travelling on non-refundable flights?
  3. Where am I going and what are the risks associated with traveling and the situation at my destination?
  4. Do I have any health problems that might crop up during my trip?
  5. Will I be driving?
  6. Will I be taking part in downhill skiing, surfing, or other high-risk activities?
  7. If I missed a flight or get injured, would I be able to afford a return ticket?
  8. What is the refund policy on my coverage?
  9. Have I read the fine print make sure that you understand exactly what is covered and – just as important – what isn’t?
  10. Have I compared similar policies to note any major price discrepancies?

Our Personal insurance specialists would be happy to help you answer these and other questions, to help ensure your peace of mind as you travel.

Bon voyage!

FLOODS, CARS, AND AUTO INSURANCE

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

Floods happen – and nearly half of all deaths related to them involve vehicles, says the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The best advice for drivers during periods of heavy rain or flooding is to stay off the road. If that’s not possible and you see signs of high water or stranded vehicles, pull over or take a different route ( “Turn around, don’t drown”).

However, an unexpected flash flood can easily catch you unawares. If this happens, safety experts recommend taking these precautions to prevent an accident or a water-damaged car:

  • Never drive beneath an underpass during a heavy rainstorm because they’re prone to flooding.
  • Be wary of water levels. According to FEMA it takes only one foot of water to float a car, or even an SUV, sweeping it off a bridge or down a road.
  • If your vehicle gets caught in a flood and stalls, or you lose control, get out before the car is carried downstream.
  • If you can’t escape and your vehicle is going under, don’t panic. Once the car is submerged, open the doors, hold your breath, and climb out.

The good news: If your car is involved in a flood-related accident, Auto insurance can make sure that you don’t get swept away financially. Comprehensive coverage will pay for any type of damage to your car up to its actual cash value caused by natural events, such as flooding. If you hydroplane during a storm and flip your car or hit another vehicle or tree, Collision insurance will pay to repair it or cover the actual cash value of the car.

To learn more, please feel free to get in touch with our agency.

LONG-TERM CARE: FOUR THINGS TO KNOW

By Life and Health | No Comments

With people living longer and longer, these days, there’s a growing need for Long-Term Care (LTC) insurance. To help you choose the policy that’s best for you – and your pocketbook – industry experts offer these guidelines:

  1. Buy now. The older you are, the more you’ll pay for LTC because you’re more likely to develop health problems as you age. What’s more, any medical condition might lead an insurance company to reject covering you.
  2. Don’t count on Health insurance. For example, Medicare generally doesn’t cover long-term care, and Medicaid will pay for a nursing home stay only after you’ve gone through most of your assets.
  3. Balance the length of the policy against the size of the daily benefit. With a “short and fat” policy, which provides a relatively large payout for a shorter period, you’ll enjoy higher payments at the risk of having your benefits run out. On the other hand, the “long and thin” option extends the coverage period while offering a smaller benefit.
  4. Allow for cost inflation. With a Guaranteed Purchase Option (GPO) or future purchase option (FPO), you can increase your coverage every two to three years to reflect skyrocketing health care costs – without taking a physical or paying a higher premium because of new medical conditions or poorer health. You might also be able to buy policy “riders” that factor in simple and compound inflation.

Purchasing Long-Term Care insurance can pose a daunting challenge. Our agents stand ready to share their experience and expertise with you at any time.

APPLYING FOR LIFE INSURANCE: HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICYNOW

By Life and Health | No Comments

Failing to tell the “whole truth” on your Life insurance application can cost your beneficiaries dearly.

The healthier you are, the less you’ll pay for Life coverage (especially for a Term policy). Applicants who smoke like a chimney or drink like a fish are statistically more likely to die young – which means that the insurance company will charge them a higher premium to cover the greater risk of death during the policy period. Other factors affecting premium rates include diseases such as cancer, and such health issues as diabetes or obesity that can contribute to a shortened lifespan.

When applying for a Life policy, it’s crucial to be totally honest about the state of your health. Fudging the truth can lead the insurance company to reject your application or, potentially, even cancel coverage.

You might think that stating on your application that you’ve never had cancer when you’re actually a survivor, or that you’re a non-smoker when you still smoke a pack a day, are nothing but “little white lies.” However, these misrepresentations won’t stand up when you take the physical exam that’s required for most Life policies.

In addition, many policies have “contestability clauses,” which means that the insurance company can decide not to pay the death benefit during the first two years of coverage if you’re proven to have lied on the application. For example, if a policyholder claimed to be a non-smoker, and then died of emphysema six months later, coverage could be cancelled if the insurer could show that smoking led to this condition – which means the policy beneficiaries wouldn’t get a dime!

A word to the wise!

TRAVEL HEALTH INSURANCE: DON’T GO ABROAD WITHOUT IT!

By Life and Health | No Comments

You’re soon to be off on an exciting trip out of the country. Your plans are made, your flight is booked, your passport is current – and now all you can do is count down to the day of your flight. Before you pack your bags and board your plane, make sure that you have insurance to cover any unforeseen medical expenses while traveling.

Bear in mind that most Health policies provide only partial, or no, coverage outside the U.S. (Neither do Medicare and Medicaid). If an accident or medical emergency struck during your trip, you’d be left far from home – and uninsured. The solution: Travel Health Insurance, which can provide a number of benefits, including:

  • Emergency medical treatment
  • Hospitalization
  • Coverage for pre-existing condition
  • Prescription drugs
  • Accidental death
  • Hazardous sports coverage (optional)
  • If necessary, medical evacuation back to the U.S. – this alone could cost $50,000

If you’re a frequent traveler, you can purchase multi-trip coverage (for up to a year) at a significant discount. People who plan to be abroad for an extended period might be able to buy a Major Medical policy that picks up the cost of prescription drugs and wellness programs.

As with most Health policies, Travel Health plans feature both in-and out-of-network coverage, deductibles, and co-payments.

You can choose from among a wide variety of plans, with differing options, and rates. For example, some policies also include such non-medical coverages as Trip Interruption and Travel Baggage.

We can advise you on selecting the Travel Health plan that’s best for you. Feel free to get in touch with us at any time.

LIFE INSURANCE: BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

By Life and Health | No Comments

Fifty might seem old – unless you plan on living past 100, it means that your life is more than half over. However, people at this age today are far younger than they used to be. Think about how your grandparents looked in their 50s and 60s and beyond compared to today’s grandparents.

Although growing older isn’t what it used to be, you might still think that people over 50, who tend to be less healthy than their younger counterparts, can’t afford to buy Life insurance. Not so.

Increased competition in today’s market means that insurance companies are seeking customers of all ages– and that rates are lower than ever. More and more insurers are designing and marketing policies to people 50 and older, which means that they have a far better chance of getting Life coverage.

To help protect your loved ones with Life insurance, at a cost you can afford, we’d recommend these guidelines to a healthy lifestyle:

  1. Watch your weight. Having a normal Body Mass Index (generally less than 25) will improve your chances of living longer.
  2. Deal with any health issues. For example, if you have a condition such as high cholesterol, get it under control, whether by medication or changing your diet.
  3. Exercise regularly, for obvious reasons.
  4. If you’re a smoker, kick the habit. Quitting will not only improve your health, but save you money – which you can invest in helping pay your premium.

Of course, these recommendations apply to Life insurance applicants at any age.

We’d be happy to help you find the policy that can best meet your needs – feel free to give us a call at any time.

CONSTRUCTION SAFETY: THE ‘CORRECTION CONVERSATION’

By Construction Insurance Bulletin | No Comments

Safety inspectors know what to look for – but they might need a refresher on holding the “correction conversation”: explaining job hazards in such a way that your workers can see the potential danger, understand how it can hurt them, and suggest how to eliminate it.

To have an effective Correction Conversation, we’d recommend that safety inspectors follow these guidelines:

  • Try to make it personal. “Kneeling on the floor for the day is going to turn your knees into jelly in a few years.”
  • Tie the hazardous activity or condition to pain. “This night watchman dropped his flashlight, and when he bent down to pick it up, the rebar went right through his eye.”
  • Make comparisons. These cable clamps might work, but the fist-grips kind are the ones that should be used. See – they look like two fists gripping.”
  • Shift the blame. “I’m not sure who set this up, but because those cable clamps are upside down they won’t hold much. Just flip them over and torque them again.”
  • Connect the correction to something the workers can share. Pass along additional information. Keep it simple, and use graphics whenever possible, If the concern is not having an eyewash station near a concrete pour, send a photo of a what a worker’s eye looks like after a concrete burn.
  • Share a story. “I can beat that!” This phrase continues conversation in bars across the world. Tell a workplace hazard anecdote that you’ve heard or witnessed – and then stop talking! Chances are another worker will share a similar story. One-upmanship is a skill we all enjoy, and helps keeps a good Correction Conversation alive.

BEWARE OF NEGLIGENT SUPERVISION!

By Construction Insurance Bulletin | No Comments

Several courts have found yet another way for someone to sue contractors.

This term refers to lawsuits against you for alleged failure to exercise proper control over your employers. For example, one of your employees might be accused of injuring others recklessly while driving a truck on company business. A “negligent supervision” suit would claim that you were negligent in hiring this worker because you either failed to discover or ignored the fact that she had a record of reckless driving.

You also have an obligation to supervise your staff. Although you can’t foresee every incident, a court will look at whether you took reasonable steps to identify and guard against potential wrongdoing by your employees: everything from unsafe behavior on the job site to sexual harassment. It’s not only about whether a worker actually committed an offence – it’s about what you did to prevent it.

To head off liability for negligent supervision, we’d recommend that you:

  • Set and enforce clear guidelines for interviewing and hiring employees.
  • Provide training in conflict resolution and communication. Supervisors need to know when to report certain behaviors and which behaviors to look for, such as verbal abuse, failing to cooperate with supervisors or co-workers .and making inappropriate comments.
  • Conduct regular performance evaluations to address specific behavior or job performance changes.
  • Provide multiple avenues to receive allegations of misbehavior, and have unbiased managers investigate complaints so that no conflicts of interest exist. Investigate every incidents promptly and take decisive action.

We stand ready to review your company’s exposure to negligent supervision claims – and how your Liability insurance coverage can help protect you. Just give us a call.