Monthly Archives: February 2016

drone2

For the past few years, it seems like the news has been filled with drone stories. Not the armed military types, but those available to civilians. Supposedly, Amazon is going to create a drone army to deliver merchandise. Dominos will soon be using drones to deliver piping hot pizza right to your door (no tip necessary). Much like smart phone videos, drone technology has allowed amateur and professional film makers alike to get some great shots only helicopters could get less than a decade ago.

Now you have joined the drone revolution. You plunked down a few hundred dollars and are now flying the friendly skies. Have you thought about the potential liability?

If you are flying your drone over, say, a neighbor’s back yard and start filming people there, is that a crime? There are stalking and privacy laws on the books that are essentially targeted at paparazzi. If you are not “working,” what is your legal liability? Better check with an attorney on that one. Potential bodily injury (crashing your drone into a person) or property damage (crashing your drone into an object) is something you and your insurance professional should discuss.

Many homeowners and renter’s policies will cover minor liability claims for drone accidents. Anything beyond that would depend on your coverage. Bear in mind that some policies exclude Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) altogether. As far as any self-inflicted damage, any homeowners or renter’s insurance protection probably doesn’t extend to your own property.  Think of your vehicle. If you get into an accident and only have liability insurance, the other guy is covered. You are not.

Using drones in your business is another type of insurance altogether. Whether you are checking crops over your farm, getting some great camera shots for a film or video, or anything where you are making money using a drone, you would need a business liability policy. Using the car analogy again, your personal auto coverage would not cover you if you were using your vehicle for business.

Talk with your insurance professional and see what exposures you are leaving yourself open to. If there are any holes in your coverage, it is best if you close them before it’s too late.

boxYou’re only renting. Maybe it’s your first apartment, maybe you’re an empty nester downsizing to a smaller house, maybe you are just checking out the community before you buy. Either way, the property doesn’t belong to you. Plus, the landlord has to have homeowner’s insurance, and that will cover your stuff, too. Right? WRONG!

Obtaining renter’s insurance can be a bit overwhelming when you consider the variety of options and how many ways there are to put a policy together. But do not skip this coverage. Just like with homeowner’s coverage, you should make a list of all your property, making special note of especially valuable assets like collections, a rarities, as these will likely need additional coverage. If the home has had safety items installed, such as carbon monoxide alert systems, fire extinguishers and even a sprinkler system, the price will be positively affected.

With most policies, your possessions are covered against losses from fire or smoke, lightning, vandalism, theft, explosion, windstorm and water damage (not including floods). Like homeowners insurance, renters insurance also covers your responsibility to other people injured at your home or elsewhere by you, a family member or your pet and pays legal defense costs if you are taken to court.

Renters insurance covers your additional living expenses if you are unable to live in your apartment because of a fire or other covered peril. Most policies will reimburse you the difference between your additional living expenses and your normal living expenses.

The bottom line is renters are responsible for protecting their own belongings. Don’t be caught short or surprised when your landlord’s insurance company dies not cover your losses. Talk to your insurance professional and obtain the necessary coverages before it’s too late.

auto insuranceIn order to legally drive a vehicle in the state of California, operators must carry a minimum amount of insurance coverage. These “minimum limits” are  $15,000 for injury/death to one person, $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person, and $5,000 for damage to property.

For qualified drivers, the California Low Cost Auto Insurance Program offers a policy with limits up to $10,000 per person in case of bodily injury or death, up to $20,000 per accident in case of bodily injury or death, and up to $3,000 for property damage.

What do these coverages mean? The first number in 15/30/5 or 10/20/3 is the amount of medical liability coverage a drivers has for one person injured by him/her in a vehicle accident. The second number is the total coverage offered for any one occurrence, no matter the number of people injured. The third number is for property damage, or damage incurred through  the fault of the driver covered.

We are all aware of the cost of medical care these days, and even slight damage to the newer luxury cars ubiquitous to many areas in Southern California can easily run into the high four figure range. So it is always smart to consider the highest coverages your budget will allow. Remember that anything not covered by your insurance policy is your responsibility.

As always, talk things over with your insurance professional to see that you have as much protection as possible.

umbrella2A column in Daily Finance (www.dailyfinance.com) posed this scenario: “While its easy to assume that only a rich person could need that much insurance coverage, you’d be surprised at how important an umbrella policy can be for an average member of the middle class. For example, if you have a car insurance policy with liability coverage, you may think you have enough protection in case of an accident. But a lawsuit… could quickly exceed the $100,000 or $300,000 insurance payout.”

Are you prepared for that? Because everyone knows (or should know) that any damages beyond your policy limits are your responsibility. Maybe you thought your auto liability or homeowners liability was enough, but do you want to find out they weren’t after the fact? Your livelihood and that of your family is at stake.

In the same Daily Finance column, the author points out that “although 85 percent of umbrella insurance claims are related to car accidents, the policies offer protection against accidents that occur at your home, too — for example, in case someone falls down your stairs and sues you, or your balcony collapses during a party. Many people opt for an umbrella policy because they have a pool or a trampoline on their property and fear the consequences of a child getting injured.”

Be sure you have all the coverage you need. You have been vigilant in your insurance protection so far, so go the extra step. Talk to your insurance professional and be sure you are covered for all eventualities. Better now than in the future… when it’s too late.

mustang red car hot wallpapperThere have been numerous debates on whether a red vehicle is more likely than another color vehicle to be pulled over. Some claim that driving a red car will result in higher insurance premiums. The answer is the color of your vehicle does not have anything to do with your likelihood of being pulled over nor does it affect the cost of your insurance.

According to well-known myth debunking website Snopes (www.snopes.com), police across the U.S. have consistently denied any connection between vehicle color and tickets issued or the allegation that they write up the drivers of red cars more often than they do other motorists. Said Sgt. Thornnie Rouse, a trooper with the Maryland State Police for more than 20 years: “You don’t care about the car’s color, you care about the violation. If a red car and a green car drive past you, and the green car is going 30 mph over the speed limit, the driver of the green car is the one who is going to get stopped.”

What car is pulled over the most? Quality Data (now Verisk Analytics) did a study a few years back and found that he most-ticketed car on the road is the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class. Drivers of these cars are four times more likely to get a ticket than the average person. Of course at $100k per vehicle, those drivers can probably afford a speeding ticket.

No surprise at the least ticketed vehicle. 8 of the 10 least-ticketed cars are SUVs and minivans. This is likely because these vehicles are likely carrying multiple passengers – in particular younger children – and people tend to drive safer in those scenarios.

Regarding your insurance, if your red vehicle is a late model Ferrari, you will most definitely be paying a high premium, but not because of the color. Likewise if you are driving a red Prius and your friend has a white Lexus, guess who will be paying less for their insurance coverage. Premiums are based on a number of factors. Vehicle color is not one of them.

Although your vehicle color does not affect either, speeding tickets do factor in determining insurance rates. So do other moving violations. What is the best way to keep your premiums lower? Drive safely.

rain driving 2As we await the next round of winter storms here in California, the last one reminded us why we need to take extra care and drive safely during and after a rain or snow storm. According to the Federal Highway Administration, Nearly one-quarter of weather-related vehicle crashes occur in bad weather like rain, snow, winds, slushy or icy pavement, resulting on average in 1,300 deaths and 116,800 people injured annually.

Naturally, the top of any suggestion list is to slow down. By driving at lower speeds, you are in a better position to be prepared for sudden stops due to debris and other wet-weather driving hazards. Something else to do is check brakes after driving through puddles or other water hazards. Give them a tap or two when it’s safe. Speaking of water, it’s best to use the center lane when you can. Avoid outside lanes where water tends to collect. Also be wary of pooled water on the road as it may be concealing a deep pothole.

Before swerving around a pothole, check the surrounding lanes to be sure they’re clear. Don’t brake directly over a pothole.  Applying brakes causes the car’s weight to shift to the front of the vehicle and can increase damage from the impact. Potholes are another reason to leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you, as you will have extra time to identify and avoid these road hazards..

Be sure to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. On wet pavement, a car needs two to three times more stopping distance than dry. Add ice to the equation and multiply that figure a bit more. Extra distance provides a buffer zone in case of skids – you or the vehicle in front of you.  If the car skids and control is lost, do not slam on the brakes. Instead apply the brakes with a steady, light pressure. DO NOT pump the brakes on ABS-equipped vehicles. Remember to steer in the direction the car is sliding.

If your area is experiencing inclement weather, you need to turn on your headlights. Even if isn’t raining or snowing that minute, it is an extra safety precaution that takes seconds to do. Not only is it easy, it is California state law.