Monthly Archives: May 2016

kids in hot cars 2

There is no question that a child succumbing when left in a hot vehicle is tragic. There is also no question such a tragedy can be prevented by following some basic safety instructions. No one wants a repeat of the string of child deaths last year caused by caregivers leaving their small charges in a vehicle during a warm day.

It’s not just kids being left in vehicles by their caregivers. We all know that youngsters are natural explorers and like to pretend. A vehicle provides a wealth of possibilities for fertile minds, but self-locking doors and trunk lids accidentally closed can quickly turn playtime into a nightmare.

Here are some startling facts from Kids and Cars (www.kidsandcars.org):

– The inside of a vehicle heats up VERY quickly! Even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a car can reach 125 degrees in minutes.

– Cracking the windows does not help slow the heating process OR decrease the maximum temperature

– 80% of the increase in temperature happens in the first 10 minutes

– A child’s body overheats 3-5 times faster than an adult body.

– Rear-facing car seats look the same whether there is a baby in it or not.

– Children, especially babies, often fall asleep in their rear-facing child safety seats and become quiet, unobtrusive little passengers.

Now for some safety tips:

– Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.

– Keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat. When the child is placed in the car seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It’s a visual reminder that the child is in the back seat.

– Make sure you have a strict policy in place with your childcare provider about daycare drop-off. Everyone involved in the care of your child should always be aware of their whereabouts.

– Keep vehicles locked at all times, even in driveways or garages. Ask home visitors, child care providers and neighbors to do the same.

– If a child goes missing, immediately check the inside passenger compartments and trunks of all vehicles in the area very carefully, even if they are locked. A child may lock the car doors after entering a vehicle on their own, but may not be able to unlock them.

– If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. Call 911 immediately. If the child seems hot or sick, get them out of the vehicle as quickly as possible.

Be safe and enjoy your summer!

road trip 2It is no secret we love our cars. Most of the nation, especially Southern California residents, loves to head out on the highway. What better opportunity to take it all in than a long weekend? If you do decide to take a road trip, be prepared to have lots of company.

The Automobile Club of Southern California (www.calif.aaa.com) projects the biggest Memorial Day Weekend travel holiday since 2005 among SoCal residents. The motorist organization expects 2.89 million Southern Californians and 4.67 million statewide are expected to take a long weekend getaway – a 2.5 percent increase over the number of 2015 travelers.

It’s the largest number of Memorial Day travelers since the all-time record of 3.2 million in the Southland and 5.18 million statewide, which was set in 2005. The good news is Gas prices are expected to be more than $1.10 a gallon less at most local stations than a year ago at this time, when the ExxonMobil refinery explosion forced the Los Angeles-Long Beach average price over $4 a gallon.

The Auto Club offers the following tips for those heading out in vehicles this weekend:

-Travel during off-peak times to avoid congestion.

-Check your vehicle’s fluid levels, belts, hoses and tires.

-Pack plenty of fluids and activities for youngsters for long trips.

-Plan your route ahead of time and bringing along a map in case you need to choose an alternate route. While GPS services and smartphone apps are helpful, they may not always be operational or accurate.

-Take care with children by properly using safety belts and car seats, and accompanying them into the restroom during travel breaks.

-Choose a well-lit, populated area for rest stops when driving at night.

Have a safe drive!

life-insurance 2

Obviously, talking about someone’s demise, especially yours, is unpleasant. But like any other long-term plan, having adequate life insurance is critical to making sure your loved ones – those who count on you for financial support – are taken care of.

To assess your life insurance needs, the Insurance Information Institute (www.iii.org) suggests asking yourself the following questions.

Does anyone depend on me for financial support?

Whether it’s a spouse/domestic partner, children, grandchildren, or even aging parents, you’ll want to make sure they’re left financially secure. Buy enough life insurance to replace your income while also financing the expenses your beneficiaries will incur to replace services you provide within the household (e.g., landscaping, tax preparation).

Are my retirement and other savings alone enough to support my dependents?

Unless your savings and retirement benefits are substantial, the income they generate is unlikely to be enough to pay for the housing, education and other day-to-day needs of your financial dependents.

What is my plan for covering final expenses?

Whether or not you have dependents, you’ll want to be able to cover the expenses incurred by funeral related costs, outstanding taxes and debts, and the administrative fees associated with “winding up” an estate. These expenses can total upwards of $15,000, and can be defrayed by having the right life insurance policy in place.

Keep in mind there are two major types of life insurance—term and whole life. Term covers the policyholder for a specified period—usually from one to 30 years. Whole life, sometimes called permanent life insurance, covers the policyholder for as long as they live—even if it’s to 100.

“Because there are many options when it comes to purchasing life insurance,” said Michael Barry, the I.I.I.’s vice president for Media Relations,  “it is important that consumers work with an insurance professional who can explain the various types of life insurance policies—and make sure they get the best coverage for their specific needs and budget.”

open signThere are a lot of expenses tied to starting your own business. For most people, these are paid for out of savings, home equity, retirement accounts, etc. Keeping these cost under control is paramount to business survival, and while some cannot be manipulated, others can be reduced with a little planning and forethought. Insurance is one expense that can vary according to certain factors.

The key here is to understand how insurance companies determine premiums. The Insurance Information Institute (www.iii.org) has some good advice for every fledgling entrepreneur regarding these factors. Here is a condensed version:

Type of business — How is the business legally structured? Are you a sole proprietor or an incorporated or limited liability company (LLC)? The less you are personally liable for the better.

Location, location, location — Businesses located in high-crime areas, or in areas that are susceptible to severe weather, such as flooding or tornadoes, will pay higher rates. If you have a choice as to where to locate your business, ask your agent for several quotes for the different locations you’re considering.

Facility size and characteristics – The larger the building, the more it will cost to insure. The building material and age of the wiring, plumbing, roof, etc. is also a consideration. State-of-the-art fire alarms, sprinkler systems and proper exits can save you money.

The value of the business — When applying for Business Interruption Insurance (BI), which covers lost net profits and continuing expenses after a catastrophe, the amount of coverage and, therefore, the premium costs will be based on your estimate of the company’s future revenues and expenses.

Number and training of employees — The more workers, the higher your workers compensation premiums will be. However, providing proper job training and safety rules can help reduce the insurance costs—in many cases, a well-trained worker is less likely to have an accident.

Take some time to talk with your insurance professional about how you can mitigate certain factors that can drive up the cost of insurance. They can help you figure out ways to bring your premium down while maintaining the coverages you need.

earthquake 2

Are you ready for the big one? That question has been posed to Californians for decades. Can you answer it? If we were struck by a catastrophic earthquake — which experts predict will happen — would you and your family be OK? How about your home? Could you rebuild it?

Earlier this month, experts from around the world met at the National Earthquake Conference in Long Beach. The San Andreas Fault was a big topic of discussion According to Thomas Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center, it is “locked, loaded and ready to roll.”

Anyone who has lived in California for even a little time knows the San Andreas Fault is the longest – and most dangerous – in the state. A cause for concern is that the last big earthquake to strike the southern portion of the was in 1857, when a magnitude 7.9 earthquake ruptured between Monterey County and the mountains near Los Angeles. A magnitude 7.8 earthquake on the southern San Andreas fault would cause more than 1,800 deaths, 50,000 injuries, $200 billion in damage and severe, long-lasting disruptions, according to a 2008 U.S. Geological Survey report. The Northridge Earthquake was a magnitude 6.7.

Consider taking steps to prepare for a quake. Put together an earthquake kit: water and non-perishable food for three days, plus a battery-operated radio, flashlight, and extra batteries. Visit the American Red Cross website (www.redcross.org) for a complete list of recommended supplies. Create an evacuation plan, including a specific location your family can gather. Everyone can—and should—participate in creating and practicing your plan. There are also smartphone apps that are useful in making up a disaster plan.

Remember that  damage caused by earthquakes is not covered under standard homeowners or renters insurance policies, so look into purchasing a supplemental policy for earthquake damage. Some renters believe their landlord’s insurance will cover their belongings. That is incorrect. In California, there is the California Earthquake Authority (CEA). The CEA coverage limit is the insured value of the home as stated on the companion homeowners insurance policy with a deductible of 10 or 15 percent. You should also check to see if damage to your vehicle would be covered under the optional comprehensive portion of your auto insurance policy.

Take some time to sit with your insurance expert and go over how prepared you are for the “big one.” Make sure everything is in order and you have a good plan of action before you need it.

swimming pool 2

The weather has been great, you are getting back in to swimsuit shape, and your backyard pool is beckoning. You are thinking about barbecues, pool parties, and enjoying a nice water-centric summer season. Of course, something like a swimming pool can have become a liability issue.

First off, be sure your insurance company knows you have a pool if you do. Not listing it on your homeowners policy will probably result in a denied claim should you file one. Where most people see the focus of great backyard parties, insurers see increased risk. That, of course, is what drives insurance rates.

If you have a homeowners or renters policy, it should cover for bodily injury of someone other than residents of the insured home if they are injured – up to the limits of the policy. The personal liability coverage should cover medical costs for the injured party including emergency room, ambulance charges and follow-up medical visits. You may want to purchase additional liability insurance; maybe up to $300,000 to $500,000.An umbrella liability policy is not a bad thing, either, say for an additional $1 million of liability protection.

Your homeowners insurance policy may cover any personal liability for personal injury to guests or visitors. However it would most likely provide very little coverage for damage to the swimming pool itself. If the pool itself is above average in cost (expensive material, special design, etc.) and/or has special features, such as a waterfall, you may want to consider a special endorsement. You may also wish to consider that most damage to the in-ground pools consists of cracking from ground movement or maintenance type issues to pool equipment, which most likely will not be covered by a standard home insurance policy.

Having a swimming pool can be a great thing, especially in the middle of a sweltering day. Inviting friends and family over can make you a very popular person. Just remember all of the potential implications of being that great friend. Talk with your insurance professional and see that an insurance claim won’t ruin your summer.