Homeowner Insurance in a Disaster

With all the devastation that is occurring in the country from tornados, home insurance has become a hot topic. More specifically, having the correct amount of insurance on your home has become a hot topic. A few weeks back we posted a blog article about a house’s “Market Value” vs. “Construction Replacement Cost”. Just a few days ago USA Today journalist Sandra Block posted a wonderful article in the Money section of USA Today on the same topic. Here is a link to this article:

Will Your Homeowners Insurance Cover You if Disaster Hits? by Sandra Block (June 1, 2011) USA Today

Texting

Recently this article was posted as an editorial in the April 5th, 2010 Toledo Blade. We here at Fey Insurance Services thought it might be of interest as it could be something that affects all of us on the road.

Article published April 05, 2010Time to ban texting
The Michigan Senate took a fairly dramatic step a few days ago. Lawmakers had earlier voted to make the highly dangerous practice of text messaging while driving illegal – but only as a secondary offense, meaning police could only cite you for it if they first pulled you over for something else.

Since anybody who sees flashing red lights is apt to stop texting immediately, this meant the law would be little more than eyewash. But the GOP-controlled Senate reversed itself, voted to make texting a primary offense carrying an immediate fine, and sent the bill back to the House.

Why the change of heart? Senators were shaken by a teenager in Ottawa County who was killed when he took his eyes off the road to text-message his girlfriend. The boy was far from the first victim; three years ago, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock was sending a text message when he crashed into a flatbed truck and was instantly killed.
The danger of this phenomenon may not be sufficiently understood by lawmakers in their 40s and 50s, who usually aren’t part of the text-message generation. But it is increasingly how young people communicate, and being on the road with drivers looking down to punch a tiny keyboard on their cell phones ought to scare anyone who isn’t in a Sherman tank.
The text-messaging bill’s main sponsor, state Rep. Lee Gonzales (D., Flint), knows what that means. He introduced the legislation after his pregnant daughter-in-law was rear-ended by a woman punching away on her cell phone. Fortunately, she and the baby both survived.
The day before the Michigan vote, the Ohio House passed a similar bill that would make texting a primary offense, though it would not allow police to issue fines for six months. The Ohio Senate and the Michigan House should speedily ratify the work of their respective other chambers, and join 20 other states that have banned the practice.
Thanks to seat belts and safer cars, highway deaths in the nation last year were lower than in any year since 1954. It would be tragic if we allowed modern communications technology to send the death toll spiraling skyward once again.

Auto Liability Basics

Auto insurance liability limits come in a few different forms as well as in many different levels. The two main forms of auto insurance liability are “Split Limits” and “Combined Single Limit”. One main thing to first understand about auto insurance liability limits is that these limits are what’s used by the insurance company to pay out on your behalf the damages that you cause to someone’s body and or property. Auto insurance liability limits are not used to pay money toward your injuries or property damage. Those coverages are auto insurance medical payments coverage, comprehensive coverage, collision coverage and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. We will not be addressing those items in this blog post.

Split Limits have three different ceilings or maxes that the insurance policy will pay out. Those three different maxes are “bodily injury per person”, “bodily injury per accident” and “property damage”. Often you will see insurance policies with split limits of $250,000 bodily injury per person and $500,000 bodily injury per accident and $100,000 in property damage. What this means is that if you cause an auto accident the most that one individual will get for their bodily injuries is $250,000 from your insurance policy. If there are multiple people in the other party’s vehicle then the most the policy will pay out is $500,000 in bodily injury to all involved. Accidents that you cause will usually result in property damage to others and $100,000 is the max that the above example limits will pay for someone else vehicle or property.
 
Combined Single Limit still covers bodily injury and property damage but there is only one lumped together limit for the policy. For example if you have a $500,000 combined single limit policy than the most the other party will receive for their bodily injuries (no matter how many people are in the vehicle) and property damage that you cause is $500,000. There is not a per person limit sublimit nor a property damage sublimit.

There are many different levels of auto insurance liability limits you can have. Each state has a minimum which means you at least have to have the amount they require in order to legally operate a vehicle. This limit is usually very low and in order to best protect your assets and help restore people that you cause injury and damage to we recommend much higher limits of insurance. Obviously the higher the limits of insurance you purchase the more money the insurance policy will cost but extra money you spend could be the difference in protecting your assets after a large claim or have the possibility of losing some of your assets.

Snow Emergencies Overview

With all the snow and ice today I though it would be good to have a refresher on what snow level emergencies meant. 

Find emergency classification details and Ohio law pertaining to snow emergencies online at: http://www.weathersafety.ohio.gov/SnowEmergencyClassifications.aspxSnow emergency levels and enforcement

LEVEL 1: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Roads may also be icy. Drive cautiously.
LEVEL 2: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Only those who feel it is necessary to drive should be out on the roads. Contact your employer to see if you should report to work.
LEVEL 3: Roadways are closed to non-emergency personnel. No one should be driving during these conditions unless it’s absolutely necessary to travel or a personal emergency exists. Employees should contact their employer to see if they should report to work. During a Level 3 emergency, drivers may be subject to arrest and/or fines.

When a Level 2 or 3 is issued, motorists are advised to seek public transportation. In a Level 3 emergency, conditions are not safe and driving is limited to emergency personnel and personal emergencies. One purpose for issuing a Level 3 snow emergency is to enable snow removal equipment to adequately clear roadways without the obstacle of motorists. Citations could be issued for reckless or unnecessary driving during a Level 3 emergency.

A Social Media Risk Management Tip

My social media risk management tip is simple, think twice before you type a message, post a picture or join a group. Why, you may ask? Think back to the days when kids in grade school would pass notes back and forth during class. Often those notes could have damaging words written on them. They could be words that haunt the person that wrote them, the person who received them or a third party all together. However, the beautiful thing about those written scraps of paper is that they eventually got thrown away and are sitting in a dump far from anyone who could read them. Today those passed notes are now in the form of tweets, texts or Facebook posts. Today, those passed notes could be stored in the Library of Congress. Recently the Library of Congress announced that it would archive all public Twitter posts dating back to 2006.

Yesterday I read a New York Times article titled “The Web Means the End of Forgetting”, written by Jeffrey Rosen. It was a great article and sited a few examples of how those old Facebook or MySpace photo posts or text posts can come back to haunt individuals. The most famous example being Stacy Snyder who lost her teaching job because of a picture she had on MySpace. She even fought the situation in court and after two years of legal battle she lost in a federal district court. Rosen also talks about people who were fired from their jobs because of things they wrote on Twitter. This blog article could go on and on with examples of how things put on social media sites have come back to hurt individuals.

This Oxford and Cincinnati insurance office is not saying never to post on social media or that it is bad. We are just doing our job as risk managers and encouraging you to have fun but to be cautious in what you write or post.

Driving Drowsy

A 2008 study, taken from the Annals of Internal Medicine, suggest that some antihistamines may impair driving ability, even more than alcohol. The driver doesn’t even have to feel drowsy.

Forty study participants, when given diphenhydramine and an amount of alcohol to boost their blood alcohol level to .10 (legally impaired in most states), tested worse in a driving simulator when under the influence of antihistamine than under the influence of alcohol. A newer non-sedating antihistamine, Allegra, did not affect driving any more than the placebo given in a blind test screen.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates there are 50 million allergy sufferers in the United States. Allergies account for more than 17 million outpatient physician visits each year. Since the 1940s, antihistamines have been among the most widely prescribed medications. It is estimated that currently there are 30 million patients in the United State taking regular antihistamine medications in this $8 billion drug market.

If you have taken antihistamines, ask your doctor if a non-sedative prescription will work for you.

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.