Monthly Archives: January 2016

NHTSALast year, there were close to 900 recalls affecting 51 million vehicles nationwide. Every year, on average, 25 percent of recalled vehicles are left unrepaired. That means is one in every four recalled vehicles could potentially harm (or worse) the driver and passengers with the failure of some system or function. You are a smart driver; have you checked your vehicle for any recall? Well, the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA) wants to help.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) RECENTLY launched a new public awareness campaign called Safe Cars Save Lives that urges consumers to check for open recalls at least twice a year and to get their vehicles fixed as soon as parts are available.

“Recalls are a serious safety issue that should be promptly addressed,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “An informed consumer is one of our strongest allies in ensuring recalled vehicles are repaired. Do not wait to act if your car is under recall and the parts are available.”

Looking up your vehicle to see if it has been recalled only takes a few minutes and can potentially save your life as well as the lives of your passengers. Just find your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) located on your vehicle registration.  Then visit the NHTSA’s website at www.nhtsa.gov and click on “VIN lookup search” Enter your VIN in the space provided to explore any recall history. You can also check for NHTSA investigations and even make a complaint about a vehicle.

While you are thinking about vehicle safety, also think about what steps you need to take to insure your financial security while driving. Defective parts or not, accidents do happen, and part of how successfully you will get past one depends on your insurance coverage. Talk with your insurance professional to make sure you are fully covered for any eventuality.

broncos panthers 4You’re all set with your Broncos or Panthers gear. Plates, cups and napkins have already been bought and all your Super Bowl invitations have been sent. But before you go pick up the chicken wings and hamburger rolls, be sure some other paperwork has been checked. That is, your insurance policy, specifically, your homeowners or renters policy.

Anytime you host an event where alcohol is served, there is the possibility of some liability issues arising. Slip and fall accidents become more probable. Property damage (yours) is another distinct possibility. Even thefts, inadvertent, of course, can occur. Check your policy to be sure you are covered.

There is also Social Host Liability, which underscores your responsibility to your guests. In California, the host is usually not responsible for his/her guests once they leave the party, but they do have a social responsibility to make sure everyone has a safe experience. That said, a host is 100 percent liable for what happens to an underage drinker during and after the event. A host may also be found guilty of a misdemeanor for serving “habitual or common drunkards,”

Here are some excellent suggestions posted by the Insurance Information Institute (www.iii.org) that can help you have a party memorable for the right reasons:

– Hire a professional bartender. Most bartenders are trained to recognize signs of intoxication and are better able to limit consumption by partygoers.

– Encourage guests to pick a designated driver who will refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages in order to be able to drive other guests home.

– Be a responsible host. Limit your own alcohol intake so that you will be better able to judge your guests’ sobriety.

– Offer non-alcoholic beverages and always serve food. Eating and drinking plenty of water, or other non-alcoholic beverages, can help counter the effects of alcohol.

– Do not pressure guests to drink or rush to refill their glasses when empty. And never serve alcohol to guests who are visibly intoxicated.

– Stop serving liquor toward the end of the evening. Switch to coffee, tea and soft drinks.

– If guests drink too much or seem too tired to drive, call a cab, arrange a ride with a sober guest or have them sleep at your home.

Enjoy the game while you root for your favorite team (at least for that day). Make sure your guests have a great time, but remember they are your guests. Make you party one to remember for all the right reasons.

boat accident 4It’s a nice, sunny day, a perfect day to take your boat out of winter dry dock and have a little fun. The cooler’s packed, the water skis are clean, and you are ready to hit the water. Because the boat only comes to mind right before you want to use it, you may not have thought about boat insurance. Given the potential for accidents to and from the lake, as well as liabilities you could face even in a watercraft equivalent of a fender bender, you should think about it.

Many people think their boat is covered by homeowners insurance. In very limited cases it is true; however it is not for the vast majority of boat owners.  Much like you need certain insurance for your car, you should also have at least liability coverage for your boat. Because even though you think of yourself as a master boater, accident can happen.

Basic boat insurance includes: Liability, which covers costs related to bodily injury and property damage suffered by others in a boating accident you cause; Boat coverage, which is a lot like comp and collision for your car in that it covers repairs to your boat after it is damaged in a collision or damaged in several types of non-collision-related incidents like a fire; and Medical coverage which can help with costs related to injuries you may suffer in a boat crash.

Because most states do not require boat insurance, you may want to purchase Uninsured coverage to help if your boat is damaged by an uninsured boater.

Don’t be made a land lubber because your boat was damaged and you have to wait to fix it up. Even worse, don’t take the money you wanted to put into fixing your boat up because you have to pay for damages to someone else’s boat — and its passengers. Talk to your insurance professional and see what liabilities you may have and what you can do to protect yourself.

autoaccident1You pay your auto insurance premium diligently every month but never imagine you will need it. Bu the reason you have insurance is just in case, and sometime “just in case” comes in handy. If you are involved in an auto accident – whether your fault or not – you should follow some basic advice for seeing yourself through the temporary crisis.

  • Call 911. Even if no one is hurt, you’ll want to have the incident in an official record. Get a police report, too. Make sure you do not admit fault.
  • Document EVERYTHING. Take pictures of the accident scene, damage to your vehicle and the other party’s vehicle, as well as any other property damage. Note the time of the accident as well as any weather factors. Keep a pen and pad or paper in your glove box.
  • Move off the road if you can. After noting relative vehicle positions, at least move out of traffic. You don’t want to be the cause of another accident or exacerbate your own situation. If you have safety flares or reflective road triangles, use them.
  • Get the other driver’s information. Driver’s license number, license plate number, insurance information, etc. Note if there were any passengers and get their names, too. Also be sure to note any witnesses to the accident. Use your cell phone to take a photo of the other driver’s license and the license plate of the other vehicle.
  • Report the incident to your insurance company. Even if you don’t plan on filing a claim, it is important that they have your side of the story in case the other party does.

Another good piece of advice is to talk over your current auto insurance situation with your insurance professional. Take a little time to see what kind of coverage you can expect for yourself and the other driver. Be sure it’s enough for any eventuality. It’s better to be safe now than sorry later.

autoaccident1Sometimes reading an insurance policy is like deciphering a foreign language. Sure, there are a few words and phrases you understand, but for the most part it is not completely understandable. As auto insurance is as ubiquitous as (mostly) cars on the road, that particular coverage is especially important to comprehend. If you are a responsible driver, you have at least the minimum auto insurance required by the state.

With the insurance you are most likely to use, there are some basic terms you should be familiar with:

Adjuster – A person who investigates and settles insurance claims.

Binder – A temporary insurance contract that provides proof of coverage until you receive a permanent policy.

Collision coverage – Pays for damage to your car without regard to who caused an accident. The company must pay for the repair or up to the actual cash value of your vehicle, minus your deductible.

Comprehensive coverage (physical damage other than collision) – Pays for damage to or loss of your automobile from causes other than accidents. These include hail, vandalism, flood, fire, and theft.

Liability insurance – Pays for injuries to the other party and damages to the other vehicle resulting from an accident you caused. It also pays if the accident was caused by someone covered by your policy, including a driver operating your car with your permission.

Liability limits – The maximum amount your liability policy will pay. Your policy must pay at least $15,000 for each injured person, up to a total of $30,000 per accident, and $5,000 for property damage per accident (unless you have a Low Cost Auto Policy). This basic coverage is called “15/30/5” coverage.

Medical payments and personal injury protection (PIP) – Both pay limited medical and funeral expenses if you, a family member, or a passenger in your car is injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident. PIP also pays lost-income benefits.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage – Pays for your injuries and property damage caused by a hit-and-run driver or a motorist without liability insurance. It will also pay when your medical and car repair bills are higher than the other driver´s liability coverage.

For a complete understanding of your auto policy, as well as any other coverages you may have, your best resource is your insurance professional. Make an appointment to go over your insurance coverage and make sure you have all you need.

Silhouette-question-markEveryone should be at least semi-familiar with the terms of their insurance policies. After you make a claim (and that claim is possibly denied) is too late to fully understand your coverage. While many insurance terms are used across different policies, some are unique to particular coverages.

Take homeowners insurance for example. There are a few industry/legal terms that apply to that coverage pretty much exclusively. To help you better understand your homeowners policy, here are a few core common ones:

Additional living expenses (ALE) – Reimburses the policyholder for the cost of temporary housing, food, and other essential living expenses, if the home is damaged by a covered peril that makes the home temporarily uninhabitable. Some policies cap the amount of ALE payable to 20 percent of the policy’s dwelling coverage.

Exclusion – A provision in an insurance policy that denies coverage for certain perils, people, property, or locations.

Liability coverage – Covers losses that an insured is legally liable. For homeowners insurance, liability coverage protects you against financial loss if you are sued and found legally responsible for someone else’s injury or property damage.

Loss of use – A provision in homeowners and renters insurance policies that reimburses policyholders for the additional costs (housing, food, and other essentials) of having to live elsewhere while the home is being restored following a disaster.

Peril – A specific risk or cause of loss covered by an insurance policy, such as a fire, windstorm, flood, or theft. A named-peril policy covers the policyholder only for the risks named in the policy. An all-risk policy covers all causes of loss except those specifically excluded.

Personal property – All tangible property (other than land) that is either temporary or movable in some way, such as furniture, jewelry, electronics, etc.

Replacement cost – Pays the dollar amount needed to replace the structure or damaged personal property without deducting for depreciation but limited by the policy’s maximum dollar amount.

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to sit down with your insurance professional to discuss all of your insurance policies and determine if you need any additional coverage. At the very least, you can be sure you understand everything about the policies you currently have.