Tips You Can Use



6 Steps to Take Following a Vehicle Collision

Posted by on Dec 16, 2017 in Personal Protection, Uncategorized | Comments Off on 6 Steps to Take Following a Vehicle Collision

Vehicle collisions happen each day to drivers of all ages. They are part of life in big cities and small towns. Knowing the correct actions to take following an auto collision can have a lasting impact on insurance premiums and possible legal repercussions. Take the correct measures to stay protected. Here are 6 steps to take following a vehicle collision:

1. Get to Safety

The action to take following an auto collision is getting to safety. Depending on the situation, this could mean moving a vehicle safely to the shoulder or exiting the automobile immediately. Always place safety as the top priority above all else. Create distance from moving traffic and other hazards before moving ahead.

2. Evaluate for Injury

A vehicle collision sends the adrenaline response into overdrive. Shock can distract from injuries. Check for personal injuries and encourage all others involved to do the same. If any back or neck injuries are suspected, immobilization is recommended. Any medically trained personnel can perform first aid if the situation allows.

3. Contact First Responders

After moving to safety and applying immediate first aid, call 911 and request aid. This is recommended any time there’s a vehicle collision, regardless of severity. Injuries may take days or longer to appear. Additionally, insurance carriers may reference official records following a vehicle collision.

4. Collect Information

With safety and first aid under control, it’s time to collect pertinent information from the people involved. More than driver name and car insurance carrier, thoroughly record the scene. Take photographs of the vehicles, damage, and the scene. Speak to the first responders to gather any relevant information. Trauma can affect short-term memory. Record responses for simple reference and accuracy.

5. Be Cooperative 

Following a vehicle collision, you may be in a heightened state of emotional response. This can make it challenging to be cooperative with other drivers and first responders. Other drivers are likely energized as well and may be challenging to communicate with. Be part of the solution.

6. Exercise Neutrality

One of the first gut responses following a vehicle collision or other trauma is talk it out. It’s perfectly natural yet following a vehicle collision a casual remark may cause trouble. After a vehicle collision, stay neutral with other drivers, witnesses, and responders. This includes remaining silent on social media channels. Inadvertently admitting fault may lead to increased insurance premiums and more.

Afterward, contact an insurance agent to report the collision and begin a claim. Agents are ready to help overcome vehicle collisions so you can get back on the road. Auto collisions are equal-opportunists and can happen anywhere. Prepare with comprehensive auto insurance and drive protected.

Update Home Insurance & Cover Natural Disasters

Posted by on Dec 15, 2017 in Personal Protection | Comments Off on Update Home Insurance & Cover Natural Disasters

Homeowners are taking too many risks with insurance coverage. According to a recent study by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), only a small percentage of homeowners plan for natural disasters when updating insurance plans. Approximately 4/5 homeowners are lacking sufficient insurance protection. Saving a couple of bucks today may cost a lot tomorrow. The Commission encourages all homeowners to consider updating insurance plans to include adequate coverage for natural disasters.

This past year, the nation watched as Houston and the Gulf states were struck by catastrophic flooding. In the Southwest, Northern Nevada was subject to catastrophic flooding as well. Many of the local homeowners found only too late their homeowners’ insurance policies lacked coverage for floods. In California, wildfires have ravaged the landscape leaving the door open for mudslides and erosion.

For most damages caused by natural disasters, additional insurance protection is required. The Commission’s survey found over half of homeowners were unfamiliar with their insurance policy. Between 2005 and 2015, natural disasters led to $24 billion in insurance claims. For those with protection, that’s a lot of savings.

Speak to an agent to review and update your homeowners’ insurance policy. In some cases, insurance coverage will have a mandatory waiting period before taking effect. Before disaster strikes, ask an agent about extra insurance protection for:

  • Earthquakes
  • Hurricanes
  • Flooding
  • Wildfires

A local agent will be familiar with other potential hazards specific to the area.

Additional questions to think about when updating a homeowners insurance policy include:

  • Were any changes or upgrades made to the home?
  • Has the number of home occupants changed?
  • Have any valuables been added to the home?

Matching homeowners insurance protection with the property protected will ensure compensation is swift and appropriate in case of a natural disaster.

Take steps to help keep home and property safe during a natural disaster. Always stay aware of local emergency warnings and follow official instructions for evacuation and disaster response.

Misleading Insurance Carriers Can Cost You

Posted by on Dec 14, 2017 in Personal Protection | Comments Off on Misleading Insurance Carriers Can Cost You

Drivers may be leaving some details out on their insurance policies. A lot of drivers it would seem, as a recent poll found over 80% of drivers fudge the details when obtaining a car insurance policy. There are a number of ways to save on car insurance from safe-driver discounts to policy bundling. Falsifying details to save money will likely cost more in the long run.

According to the survey, the top 5 ways drivers try to mislead insurance carriers are:

1. Misrepresenting annual mileage
2. Listing an incorrect primary driver
3. Falsifying the purpose of the vehicle (personal, commercial, etc)
4. Submitting misleading information about vehicle location
5. Omitting previous insurance claims history

For most people submitting false information, the primary motivation is financial gain. This is a risky gamble with potentially costly consequences.

Insurance carriers are on the lookout for this. Insurers are likely to void policies with intentional omissions or misrepresentations. This can be particularly risky in case of a claim as falsified policies may be dropped right when you need coverage most. That means that in case of a car accident, drivers can find themselves on the hook for extensive medical and property damages.

Falsifying insurance documents can have long-term impacts on insurance policy availability and the prices for premiums. Insurance carriers may be unwilling to carry policies for a driver with a history of telling “white lies”. Beyond higher future premiums, there is more than continuous auto insurance coverage at stake. Call it what you may, a “white lie” is an intentional omission. In the eyes of the law, this is considered insurance fraud, punishable by both fines and incarceration.

On the brighter side, it’s still possible to get great rates on comprehensive auto insurance plans. Our agents can help find the maximum number of discounts for honest coverage at affordable rates.

Personal Auto Policy Voided Because of Business Driving

Posted by on Nov 19, 2017 in Personal Protection, Uncategorized | Comments Off on 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.

Have an Import Export Business Get This Insurance

Posted by on Nov 18, 2017 in Down to Business | Comments Off on Have an Import Export Business Get This Insurance

Caring for staff is an important part of running a company. Depending on the state, insurance regulations vary. Standard business insurance policies include worker’s compensation and other liability coverage. For small businesses starting out, this may be enough coverage. For those in the export-import field there is extra protection available:

Credit-Risk Insurance for Exporters

Several export credit-risk policies are available courtesy of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im). Designed to both protect the insured and encourage expansion, these policies protect in case of buyer non-payment. They can also include protection from losses due to political, commercial, and natural influences. Policy options include:

  • Policies for Small Businesses. These policies are all-inclusive and available directly through Ex-Im. Umbrella policies are available and allow more-direct contact between owner and client for insurance matters. Income and export volume conditions apply; speak to an insurance agent for more information about small business policies for exporters.
  • Single-Buyer Short-Term insurance policies. Policies to protect single sales are available. For insurance for single shipments, speak to an agent about short-term export insurance protection.

These policy options are designed for small-medium sized companies with any level experience in the industry.

Cargo Insurance

For around one percent of the cost of transported good, cargo shipments are insurable for the worth of more than the cargo. Shipments are insured to compensate for time and profit-loss.

  • All-risk policies are the most inclusive, yet some restrictions apply. To access the most from a cargo insurance policy speak to an insurance agent.
  • General-average policies protect from transportation losses to other cargo from other exporters, included in the same shipment. Maritime regulations state all exporters utilizing the same ship bear the responsibility for all on-board contents. Tricky, right? Call an agent for more information.
  • Contingent insurance is there to cover gaps in insurance from other parties in a shipping transaction. Contingent insurance is the safety net for two-party transactions.

New exporters may wish to start small, yet as the company size grows so will risk. Policies can grow with the company.

Keeping Shipments Safe

There are a number of ways to help protect shipments before they head to sea. This can help reduce insurance claims, reducing premiums and costs as well.

  • Crate shipments for simple loading and unloading. Ports utilize forklifts, cranes, and other heavy equipment to load and unload cargo shipments. Packing shipments to withstand the loading and unloading process can limit and damages to the shipment.
  • Crate shipments for the high-seas. Oftentimes cargo is kept above-decks for exposure to the weather and sea-spray. The elements can wreak havoc on unsecured shipments, prepare for nature beforehand.
  • Crate shipments securely. During the transportation process, shipments may be left unattended. Reduce temptation by securing shipments with locks and other anti-theft measures.

Waterproof shipments when possible, and be liberal with the application of packing materials. Consider transportation routes and climates before crating, and always think safety first. For more information on insurance protection for exporter-importers contact an insurance agent today. Our agents are always on the lookout for ways to save money and promote health. Call anytime with any insurance-related questions.

Hacking on The Rise

Posted by on Nov 13, 2017 in Down to Business | Comments Off on Hacking on The Rise

It is estimated that over half the companies currently operating in the United States have been the victim of cyber-attacks within the past year. 53% to be exact, according to a recent study completed by cyber-insurance carrier the Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB) Inspection and Insurance Co. This study also found that of the businesses hacked within the prior year period, 72% spend over $5,000 investigating each incident. Response to cyber attack can be costly. Attacks must be discovered, damage mitigated, and changes may be necessary to limit future exposure.

More than a third of the businesses hacked (a whopping 38%) spent more than $50,000 in their response, 10% spend between $100,000-250,000 and 7% paid more than $250,000 in associated expenses. That’s over a quarter-million dollars on disaster response for a single attack. Timothy Zeilman, Vice President with HSB, a said the increased number of cyber assaults and associated high cost have companies more concerned with protecting information. Data is what drives a business; loss or corruption can be crippling on many levels.

Seven of every 10 executives worry data will become damaged or compromised due to a cyber strike. 62% of those surveyed worry about costly equipment damage as well. This study supports those concerns. The most common casualty in a cyber-attack is a loss of data (60%), followed by a disruption in day-to-day business (55%). Malware and viruses are frequent types of cyber-attacks. An increasing number of companies also experienced distributed denial of service (DDoS) assaults, payments demands via ransomware, cyber extortion of all types, and a number of social engineering issues.

Security experts say employees are a weak link in the chain when sensitive information is on the line, and business leaders agreed. When questioned on the largest risk to cybersecurity, respondents pointed to negligent or disgruntled employees (45%) and cyberpunks (37%). Almost two-thirds of businesses purchased or increased cyber insurance coverage over the past year. 56% of these businesses purchased a cybersecurity policy for the first time. This study was completed by Zogby Analytics on behalf of HSB. Zogby studied 403 presidents, CEOs, CFOs, and other high-level executives in the United States to accumulate data. Those surveyed worked in a range of industries with incomes ranging from less than $5 million to greater than $200 million.

We’re always searching for fantastic insurance information that may affect health and pocketbook. Call anytime with any insurance-related questions.

Watch Out for Deer

Posted by on Nov 13, 2017 in Personal Protection | Comments Off on 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

Posted by on Oct 18, 2017 in Personal Protection | Comments Off on 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!

Always Work With a Net

Posted by on Oct 17, 2017 in Down to Business | Comments Off on Always Work With a Net

Entrepreneurs spin a lot of plates. Gathering licenses, building inventory, and engaging potential vendors are several of many things involved with launching. A large number of responsibilities involved with starting a company leaves it unsurprising many entrepreneurs overlook securing effective commercial insurance policies. A grasp on specific risks helps tailor the right commercial insurance policy.

Mike Barton, with Commercial Insurance of Allstate, says the right policy changes for each company. Daycare-center operators and at-home caregivers carry different levels of risk. Policies tailored for meeting specific risks head-on limit liability. Kevin Haward of State Farm recommends general liability insurance coverage as a starting point to build upon. For home-based entrepreneurs, general liability policies cover gaps homeowner’s insurance policies may leave, such as guests attending at-home sales parties.

Commercial Insurance: The Options

Insurance requirements vary based on company size, industry, location and more. General liability protection creates a starting-point for coverage. Add extra coverage for increased protection. These additional commercial insurance coverage policy inclusions are available through a broker:

  • Commercial Property Insurance. The artwork in the office, computers, machinery and more gain protection through commercial property coverage.
  • Lost-Income Insurance. This policy compensates for revenue lost due to an insurable event, rendering the company unable to operate. Weather the storm with the right insurance protection.
  • Omission/Error Insurance. Dealing with small details is challenging; the occasional oversight may occur. This policy protects lawyers, doctors, and other professionals against damages due to unintentional data omission.
  • Compromised-Data Insurance. Corporate espionage is alive and well. Protect customer information, company secrets, and other sensitive information with a data compromise inclusion.
  • Cyber insurance protects companies using Cloud, internet, and other connected platforms for sharing data. Any entrepreneur with an internet connection is at risk, ransom-ware targets companies of all sizes.

Tips for Success

The experts recommend several tips for securing the right commercial insurance policy coverage:

1. Properly Value Property. Often, entrepreneurs underestimate the value of personal effects employed for company purposes or rely on a homeowner’s policy for protection. Protect these effects using commercial property coverage.

2. Ask Around. Many resources exist online for researching insurance policies and protection before buying. Other local entrepreneurs are an additional source of information. They can give advice coverage options, share knowledge about risks, and recommend an agent.

3. Get Help. According to Barton, small operations account for nearly one-third of the American labor force. At smaller companies staff often adapts, performing multiple roles to keep operations running. Sales, accounting, and customer service take time. An agent can shoulder the task of finding and activating the right policy.

4. Find the Right Agent. The right insurance agent understands the industry, location, and objective of the company. Commercial policies differ by state, agency, and by the agent. A local agent remains attentive to needs ensuring continuous and comprehensive coverage. Gain the right coverage for the right price using a local agent.

Researching ahead of time can help save later. To learn more about commercial insurance protection contact an agent today. Protection is available for companies of all sizes. Reduce risk, limit liability, and protect property with commercial insurance.

Contact an agent for any questions about commercial insurance, or with any other questions about insurance protection. Have a great article topic to share? We’d love to hear it!

In An Auto Accident? Do This

Posted by on Oct 10, 2017 in Personal Protection | Comments Off on 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.