Road trip! Know the laws where you drive

Before you head out on your road trip, consider your itinerary. Traffic laws and enforcement in states that you visit may differ from the state where you live.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers a website with a map detailing state distracted driving laws. Click on the state to see restrictions on cell phone and texting use by age, in school zones or construction zones.

The Governors Highway Safety Association also offers a convenient map describing many traffic-related laws. Click on the state for a list of laws and restrictions connected to seatbelts, speeds, older or younger drivers, motorcycle helmet use, child safety seats, impaired or aggressive driving and driving in work zones. Another source for state traffic regulations is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Your automobile or travel club may also be able to provide information specific to the states you plan to visit.

Here’s a summary of some common traffic-related laws:
Speed limits for passenger cars vary from 55 to 75 mph on interstate highways, and limits can change between urban and rural areas.
Cell phone restrictions vary widely. In 11 states and the District of Columbia, all drivers are prohibited from using handheld cell phones. Several other states ban all cell phone use – handheld or hands-free –  for young drivers.
Texting while driving is a bad idea no matter who or where you are, but the penalties you may face for breaking the law could vary. In 41 states and the District of Columbia, text messaging is banned for all drivers. Some states put additional restrictions on young drivers.
Seat belt enforcement may be either primary or secondary. For a primary offense, a law enforcement officer can cite you directly for not using your seat belt. In states where enforcement is secondary, you would be cited only in conjunction with another traffic infraction.
Child safety seats are required in all 50 states for children who meet certain requirements, and all states except Florida and South Dakota also require booster seats for older children. Check the chart for weight limits and fines in each state.
Young drivers in some states are limited in the number of passengers they may carry, and passengers may be limited to immediate family members only.
Headlights may be required even during the day in some states if weather conditions require you to use windshield wipers or when visibility is restricted by fog. Look for a sign at the state line.
Stop light and speed cameras may be in use in some communities. Most states do not have laws restricting these enforcement measures, so don’t be surprised if you drive through a municipality that uses them. In most cases, the use of enforcement cameras is posted on signs at city limits.

Market Value vs. Replacement Cost

Here is our first attempt at catering our insurance education to the visual learner.  We at Fey Insurance are not artist so please keep that in mind.  Enjoy this video that talks about the difference between market value and replacement cost.

Safe Travels this Holiday

The Holidays are in full swing and with Christmas just a day away; many have already started their Holiday travels. Being the insurance people that we are, here are a few tips for a safe and secure season of travel.

1) Make your home seem like someone is still there. You can do this several ways. Leave your front and back porch lights on so that at night your house is lit up. Ask a neighbor to collect your mail while you are gone so it doesn’t stack up. You can also ask the post office to hold if for you until you get back. Another way to make it look like you are home is to ask a neighbor to pull in and out of your driveway at some point if it snows giving the appearance that you have been in and out of your house.

2) Don’t show off to the Facebook world that you are on vacation. I know this can be tough for some but letting everyone know you are out of town on Facebook can be dangerous. We recommend waiting until you get home from your trip before you post vacation pictures.

3) Car travelers should be prepared for heavy snow at all times. The best way to do this is to make sure you have extra blankest, windshield washer fluid, ice scrapers and even a small shovel. You never know when you might need any of those things. Also, be sure to have your phone charged during the trip so that you have it in case of an emergency.
4) Don’t skimp on heat in your home: we recommend to keep the heat in your house at a reasonable level so your pipes don’t freeze.

Those are just a few simple tips. We here at Fey Insurancehope you have a wonderful Holiday and Merry Christmas

Cost Savings Ideas

There is constant talk today about cutting costs. Here are two options that might help you save a few dollars on your insurance in this rough economy.

1)Raise your deductibles:
A typical homeowner policy has a deductible of $500 and a typical auto insurance policy has $100 for comprehensive and $250 for collision deductibles. One way to help save a few dollars on your annual insurance bill is to increase your homeowner deductible to $1000 and your comprehensive and collision deductibles on your auto to $500 each. Note that when you do this you bring a little bit of the financial risk back on yourself. A good rule of thumb to help figure out if the deductible change is worth the risk is to take the savings you will get for increasing your deductible and multiply it by three. If that number is larger than the difference between your old deductible and your new deductible in my opinion you are taking on an appropriate amount of risk for the savings.

2) Drop physical damage on your old vehicles.
If a car is 10 years or older it is probably worth researching whether you should have comprehensive and collision coverage on your car (many people know this as “full coverage”). Two ways to help you decide if dropping comprehensive and or collision from your car is worth it are:

1. The Insurance Information Institute says that if your car is worth less than 10 times the amount you pay annually for comprehensive and collision coverage it isn’t worth keeping the coverage.

2. Another way to analyze if it is worth keeping the coverage is to take the premium you pay for collision and add it to your deductible amount. That is the total amount that it costs you to insure your car. (i.e. Your annual collision premium is $250 and your collision deductible is $500. If you total your car you will have paid $750 ($250 in premium and $500 in deductible) before you received any money from your insurance company) If in your mind it isn’t worth spending that kind of money to save your vehicle if it was totaled than you might want to consider dropping that coverage.

Building Ordinance Coverage

This endorsement provides coverage if the enforcement of any building, zoning or land use law results in added cost that are not covered as a direct loss.

The endorsement is separated into three distinct parts: section A, B and C, which typically allows the policyholder to purchase one or all of these valuable coverages.

SECTION A applies to loss to the undamaged portion of the building. This endorsement covers the loss of value of the undamaged portion of a building caused by enforcement of ordinance or laws.

If a government agency requires the demolition of your entire building because the damage exceeds a certain percentage as detailed in their ordinances, this coverage would apply.

Without this endorsement, you would have no coverage for the part of the building that was not damaged because that part of the building had not suffered “direct damage.”

SECTION B of this endorsement covers the cost of demolition of the undamaged portion of the building. Without this coverage, you could be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in demolition and disposal costs.

SECTION C provides payment for the increased cost of construction if the code enforcement requires improvements to construction that were not in the original building. This coverage will pay these increased costs whether constructions is at the same location or another location, with some restrictions.

The building ordinance endorsement requires that you purchase coverage equal to 80 percent of the property’s replacement cost value. This is an optional coverage. For more detail please call your friendly Fey Insurance Services representative.

Police Officer’s Visual Estimate of Speeding

Ohio Supreme Court passed a new ruling 5-1 saying that a police officer’s “unaided visual estimation of a vehicle’s speeding” is strong enough to support giving out a speeding ticket to drivers. No long do they have to actually have a speed detector prove that you were speeding. The only criteria that has to be met for officers to be able to estimate that a person was speeding is that they have to be trained and certified by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy or a similar organization.

We mention this in our blog post today because speeding tickets can often have an adverse affect on your auto insurance premium. Companies can charge surcharges for speeding violations. Some companies can even cancel your insurance if you have too many speeding violations.

So, now more than ever it is important to be mindful of your speed as you drive. All a police officer has to do is feel that you are speeding and you can be pulled over and handed a ticket and fine.

Business Tips: Controlling Risk For Property Owners

-Cincinnati Ins. Co (Kevin Oleckniche)

Losses that occur on property you own can affect your livelihood and that of your tenants. They also can affect your insurance rates and eligibility. Without the proper controls in place, you could be saddled with the responsibility of owing for injury or damages that you did not cause.

RECOGNIZE THE RISKS

When you understand the risks you face as a property owner and lessor, you can better manage them. Consider these scenarios:
Natural perils – A tornado sweeps through town, damaging your building and your tenants’ contents.
Fire – A grease fire starts in a restaurant at one end of your building. Before it is extinguished, fire damages multiple units and tenant contents.
Third-party injury or illness – A patron slips and falls in the parking lot, spraining her ankle.
Change in occupancy – A restaurant replaces a retail store in one of your units. As a property owner, you want to determine if the current sprinkler system is able to handle the demands of a restaurant.
Change in tenant operations – A retail craft store expands its operations to include pottery making. With this expansion, your tenant adds kilns to heat-treat ceramic projects.
Vacancy – Your unoccupied building is vandalized, resulting in damaged property.

REVIEW THE RESPONSIBILITIES

A well-designed lease agreement can assist owners in transferring responsibility for payment due to bodily injury or property damage to the legally responsible party.  Consult with legal counsel when evaluating your current lease or other formal contract.  When consulting with your attorney, consider whether your agreement:

-is signed by all tenants
-contains appropriate anti-subrogation wording and indemnificationhold harmless provisions favorable to you and acceptable under your state’s laws
-authorizes you to develop, change and enforce rules and regulations for the premises
-defines which areas you control and which the tenant controls
-defines the maintenance obligations of all parties while specifying the scope of the operations and the steps you will take if the tenant defaults on these obligations
-grants you the right to inspect the leased premises for conformance with the lease provisions concerning maintenance and to point out to the tenant any obvious hazards
-requires the tenant to obtain permission before performing any building alterations
-contains provisions regarding use of hazardous substances, dispensing of liquor and other activities that increase the risk of loss
-requires service contractors who come on your premises to provide certificates of insurance verifying adequate limits of insurance and appropriate state licenses, where applicable
-requires tenants to obtain specified liability insurance on behalf of the owner, with you listed as an additional insured on a primary basis. Make sure you obtain proof that the tenant has acquired and maintains all required insurance.

Consult with legal counsel to familiarize yourself with state laws before you lease space to bars, restaurants or stores that sell liquor.
While it is your duty to live up to your obligations as a property owner, it is also wise to make your tenants take responsibility for their actions and premises upkeep.
Your local independent insurance agent is there to help you maneuver around the challenges you face as a property owner. Contact your agent whenever a new tenant moves into the building, a current tenant changes its operations or part of the building becomes vacant for 30 days.

Homeowner Policy: Section 1

A homeowner policy is made up of two sections, Section 1 Property and Section 2 Liability.  This blog post will focus on Section 1 which outlines the four property coverages provided by a homeowner policy.  Those four coverages are as follows:

 
Coverage A Dwelling:  This coverage pertains to the actual house itself.  The limit shown on the policy in this section is the amount of insurance the policy will pay out if the house was totally damaged.  It Is important to understand that this limit of insurance should be based on Reconstruction Costs (the amount it would take to rebuild the house) instead of Market Value (the amount you can buy or sell the house on the real estate market).  For more details on this check out our Reconstruction Cost vs Market Value article.  The dwelling limit of insurance will drive the other three parts of Section 1 Property so for example purposes let’s say our Coverage A Dwelling limit is $200,000.
 
Coverage B Other Structures:  Other Structures are property located on your land that are not permanently attached to your home.  This would be things like detached garages, fences, sheds, barns and pools to name a few.  Back in the 50’s this was a much more common concern to have Other Structures coverage because the norm was to have a detached garage.  Today many garages are part of the house so this coverage is not as much of a focus on new homes.  The homeowner policy, however, automatically includes this coverage in most cases so even if you do not have a need for it, still it is there.  The limit for this coverage is usually 10% of the dwelling limit so if our Coverage A is limit is $200,000 then our Other Structures limit is $20,000.  

Coverage C Personal Property:  This section covers your contents, your personal belongings inside the house, such as TVs, clothes, furniture, pictures, etc get its coverage.  The important thing is to be sure that you have replacement cost coverage for you Personal Property and not actual cash value.  If you have actual cash value it means they will take into account how old your stuff is and not give you enough money to go out and replace your items without having to go buy used.  If you have replacement cost coverage you can go replace your furniture with new furniture from a store and the policy will reimburse you the full amount.  Coverage C Personal Property is also derived from the Coverage A Dwelling and usually is 70% or 75% of the amount.  This means that if our Dwelling limit is $200,000 then our Personal Property limit would normally be $140,000 or $150,000.

Coverage D Loss of Use:  Loss of Use means that if you have a claim on your house that makes it so that you can not live in the house for a period of time, the homeowner policy under this section will help pay for your lodging expenses and some of your eating out expenses (usually 1/3rd of your meal expenses).  This loss of use might be for a few days or a few months depending on the extend of your homes damage.  The limit of coverage given under this section can very from company to company.  Some companies give a time period they will cover it for (example 2 years) or they will just pay what ever the amount of loss is (actual loss sustained).  Some companies, similar to how they do it on the Other Structures and Personal Property section, give a percent (usually 10%-20%).

Deductible Basics

When a covered insurance claim happens the insured, in many cases, will be responsible for the first few dollars of most losses. The amount they are responsible for is called the deductible. More often than not, deductibles are only associated with property damage of the insured’s own possessions whether that is a vehicle that was damaged or damage to their contents, their buildings or even their loss of income. On some occasions you may see deductibles on liability claims but not in many.

Deductibles can come in many different forms on insurance policies. You can have a given dollar amount, say $500. Often times you see this type of deductible on home insurance or business property insurance. Some deductibles might be a percent of the loss like 1% or 10%. Sometimes you will see this type of deductible on a home or business but many times it will be associated specifically with earthquake coverage. Deductibles can be vanishing deductibles. As the insured racks up years of no losses, their deductible gradually drops each year until eventual it is $0.

In most cases the deductible is per claim. This means that each time you have a claim you pay a deductible. It isn’t like your typical health insurance policy where you have an out of pocket deductible for the year and once you meet that limit you are done with the deductible. In property and casualty, if you have a $500 flat per claim deductible you will pay $500 each time you have a claim no matter how many you have in a given year.

Deductibles can be a helpful cost savings tool. They can be raised to help drop premiums but the insured needs to understand that by raising deductibles they have taken on a bit more of the burden of possible claims.

It is important for insureds to understand what their deductible is so that they can be prepared to financially meet its requirement if a claim were to happen. I mention this more in connection with a percentage deductible. The insured should know if the percent is on the cost of the claim or on the coverage limit. For example, if a person had a $200,000 house and an insurance policy with a 5% deductible (on the coverage limit) it would be best to know that you have a $10,000 deductible before you have a claim. Someone that doesn’t know their policy might think that it is 5% per the cost of the claim.

Deductibles are just one of many facets to an insurance policy. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your policy and policy coverages and consult your independent insurance when ever you have any questions.

Buckle Up Your Best Friend

Dogs are a man’s best friend. So it only makes sense that dogs often travel in vehicles. Sometimes those are trips that are necessary for the dog such as doggy daycare or the vet. However, a lot of the time they are just to keep the driver company as they drive around town or go on a short road trip.

Dogs can be great companions as you drive around in your vehicle but they can also be great distractions. There are times you will see dogs sitting on the laps of the drivers or sitting dead center of the back seat which blocks the driver’s view out of the rear of the car.
In an accident dogs can also be a major hazard. When auto accidents happen they often stop a vehicle cold in its tracks. However, anything not buckled into the vehicle continues to travel at the speed the vehicle was traveling. Often, dogs are not strapped in and therefore become a large moving object in your vehicle. This can cause major damage to your pet as well as possibly to you or anyone else in the vehicle. It is best to have a dog strapped into your car, not only for your dog’s safety but also for your safety and for the safety of those in your vehicle. Visit a pet store near you and pick up an attachment that enables you to comfortably seatbelt in your dog.