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Will Boat Insurance Keep You Afloat?

06/11/2015 | No Comments

Make Sure You Have Boat Insurance to Weather the Storm

If you enjoy fishing, sailing, yachting, or cruising around on a powerboat, make sure you have boat insurance that covers your liability risk as well as your watercraft, equipment and passengers. Perhaps you have a lake cabin and like to tow water skiers or tubing enthusiasts. Maybe you have the party boat and every Fourth of July you load up your vessel with guests, food and libations.

Water activities are a great way to bring people together, but it is important to remember that accidents, injuries and fatalities do happen, especially when alcohol is involved. To get the right coverage that will protect your financial investment,work with an independent agent in the Trusted Choice® network. A local agent who knows the risks and regulations in your area can help ensure that you are fully covered when you head out on the water. Contact your Tri County Agent today!


Critical Steps for Boater Safety

  • Take a boating safety course
  • Educate your passengers on safe boating techniques
  • Make sure all passengers wear life vests
  • Follow all rules of the waterway you frequent
  • Stay sober, particularly if you are at the helm
  • Get boat insurance to ensure you are protected for the risks involved in boating, from liability claims to theft, storm damage and capsizing

What Does Boat Insurance Cover?

The exact boat coverage you need depends on multiple factors. Small boat insurance is very different from yacht insurance, for example. However, for most types of boats, the three kinds of coverage in a basic boat insurance policy include:

  • Bodily injury liability for expenses related to the injury of another person
  • Property damage liability for expenses related to harming another person’s property
  • Physical damage for damage to your own property, including your boat and trailer.

You also may want to add additional types of coverage to your boat insurance policy in order to fully protect yourself and your property. Here are some examples of additional coverage:

  • Property coverage for equipment such as tools, life preservers, anchors and oars
  • Insurance for fishing equipment like your rods, lures, nets and tackle
  • Towing coverage when your boat becomes disabled and needs servicing
  • Medical payments coverage for hospital and funeral expenses for you or your passengers
  • Uninsured/underinsured boaters coverage if you have an accident with another boater whose insurance is not sufficient to cover damages

As with all insurance, the amount of benefit or reimbursement you have in the event of an incident is set at the time you buy your policy. Be sure to talk with an experienced independent agent who can make sure you have sufficient insurance for the risks you encounter.


What Kinds of Boats Need to Be Insured?

You can insure just about any kind of vessel, whether you have a yacht, speed boat or personal watercraft (PWC) like a JetSki. Every type of boat has the potential to be stolen or damaged, and can be involved in an incident that results in harm to another person or their property. Even if your boat is docked or stored in your garage, it can potentially be vandalized, damaged in a fire or storm, or stolen.

Many owners of small watercraft such as canoes, rafts and kayaks assume they will be covered under a homeowners or renters policy. This may be the case, up to a specified limit in your home policy. However, when it’s time to make a claim, you don’t want to be surprised to find out that this limit is not adequate to cover the value of your investment.

Be sure to consider the amount of coverage you would need to repair or replace each of your boats and recreational vehicles if damaged or stolen and ask your agent to help you get the right coverage for those items.


Can You Buy Boat Insurance Online?

There is certainly nothing wrong with getting online boat insurance quotes when you are shopping around. Just make sure you are comparing “apples to apples.” For example, if you get multiple online quotes for boat insurance, you could start by making sure that each includes the same amount of liability, property damage and medical coverage.

Buying insurance is a personal matter, and many considerations go into choosing just the right coverage for you. For this reason, many people choose to work with an independent agent who can provide guidance and answer questions. That kind of support can be difficult to find in an insurance call center or online interface.

There are over 27,000 Trusted Choice member agency locations nationwide. A local independent agent in this dynamic network can provide personalized assistance and quotes. Your agent can also look for discounts, such as multi-policy discounts and premium reductions if you have taken a boater safety course. Contact your Tri County Agent today and get the help and advice you need so you are prepared for your next adventure.

 


Insurance “To – Do” list

05/27/2015 | No Comments

1. Determine your policy’s limits
It’s not unusual for people to buy coverage, only to find out later on that their policy doesn’t provide for everything that’s damaged. For instance, some insure their home based on its purchase value rather than what it cost to rebuild the home from scratch. The cost to rebuild should determine your policy limit. By securing an extended replacement cost policy, these typically pay 20% over and above what your policy allows for.

2. Perform an inventory assessment
Built within every home and business owners insurance policy is protection for your valuables and belongings. But do you know how much all your valuables are worth? If not, it’s a good idea to conduct an inventory assessment to see how much protection is appropriate.

3. Review flood coverage protection
Oftentimes, people think that their homeowners insurance includes flood insurance, when in actuality, this is a separate policy entirely. Flooding is the No. 1 natural disaster in the U.S., according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And if there is a hurricane, you can almost guarantee it will be accompanied by copious amounts of rain that could find its way inside. In fact, 90% of all natural disasters include some form of flooding, according to III data.

4. Examine coverage for additional living expenses
After Hurricane Sandy, which was a Category 1 storm, thousands of people in the Tri-State area had to abandon their homes because they were deemed uninhabitable. Besides the inconvenience it caused, it also required many people to pay out of pocket for the cost of renting out a hotel. Additional living expenses protection provides for these unexpected costs. Ensure that your home or renters insurance policy has it.

5. Assemble an emergency kit
If you don’t have an emergency kit, now’s the time to put one together. The best items to include are those that you’ll need to have when in an urgent situation, such as three days worth of food, water and clothing. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a great online resource that details all the things that ought to go in one, including the type of first-aid resources to have on hand.

For more information on how to prepare, contact us today!


Summer Party Safety

05/22/2015 | No Comments

The entertainment value in a summertime get-together can be in the camaraderie and storytelling. But don’t let your next backyard barbecue turn into a tale of woe, to be retold years from now.

One party hostess recalled a disastrous event that involved hot oil, alcohol, a paper tablecloth and fireworks:

“The oil to fry the turkey was too hot and too full (yes, we fry our turkeys in Texas). Maybe it had to do with the over-served [read: one too many alcoholic beverages] cook. But once the turkey went in, the oil bubbled over, caught the paper tablecloth on fire, and lit the grass on fire.”

The grass fire then ignited a pile of fireworks, which were supposed to be on the porch. This in turn “led to one huge fireball, screaming crying children who will probably never recover from the panic that was set throughout, which then led to roof catching on fire.”

The damage tally was: one home partially destroyed, several cars damaged by smoke, a missing dog, $2,500 worth of poorly timed fireworks and three acres of burned grass. The lessons learned, reported the wiser hostess: “We now monitor everyone’s booze intake, park cars far away, and only have one person know where the fireworks are. And I now cook the turkey with fire extinguishers nearby.”

Summer is truly party time in America. But homeowners should be aware of the risks associated with these get-togethers. Before reviewing safety tips, let’s look at three common risks for which a homeowner might need insurance coverage:

Liquor liability: Summer parties can be a breeding ground for drinking-and-driving accidents. Most homeowners know that they bear some responsibility if a guest becomes impaired after consumer alcoholic drinks at the homeowner’s house, and then causes a car accident. If the party-giver is sued, however, his/her homeowners and automobile insurance policies may not provide liability coverage. (Keep in mind that the legal defense against a claim is another significant expense for anyone who is sued in such a circumstance.)

Changes to homeowners insurance standard contracts in 2000 may limit the coverage available under a homeowners policy. Homeowners might be well served to check their homeowners and auto insurance policies (contacting their agent, if necessary) to determine what protection they may have.

Personal accidents on the homeowner’s property: A homeowners policy and an excess liability policy (dubbed an “umbrella” policy) provide broad protection for accidents on the party host’s property. For instance, if a guest tumbles down the steps of an outdoor deck or a child is burned by the outdoor grill, the homeowners policy would pay medical costs for the guest (and, should a lawsuit follow, likely would pay the costs of defending against the lawsuit and damages awarded in the case).

No one, of course, wants to see such events occur, but accidents do happen. Homeowners coverage is designed to “make whole” a homeowner who is facing a liability claim due to an accident on his or her property.

Property damage liability: When guests drive to your party and park their cars at your home, the homeowner assumes risk. The possibilities of property damage range from a simple dent from a stray baseball, to a young driver releasing the parking brake and rolling the car into a tree, to an impaired driver going for a joy ride and damaging the car. A different example of property damage is the theft of a guest’s purse/wallet or valuable articles from the party-giver’s property.

Homeowners coverage pays for damage to another person’s property, if the homeowner is held liable. A homeowner’s negligence and omissions (i.e., failing to take steps that might have prevented an incident) are reasons that he or she can be found liable for damage to another person’s property.

To prevent accidents, consider some sensible safety precautions:

Grilling

Some 5,000 people are injured by charcoal, wood-burning and propane grill fires each year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration of the Federal Emergency Management Administration. Good safety practices include:

  • Before using a propane gas grill, check the connection between the tank and the fuel line. Make sure the Venturi tubes (where the air and gas mix) are not blocked, and check hoses for cracks or damage.
  • Never use a propane barbecue grill on a balcony, terrace or roof. And never grill/barbecue in enclosed areas, as deadly carbon monoxide can be produced.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher or a source of water (a garden hose or four-gallon pail of water) near an outdoor grill or barbecue.
  • While barbecuing, don’t wear loose clothing. Use long-handled barbecue tools and/or mitts that are flame resistant.
  • Don’t squirt flammable liquids onto an open flame.
  • Don’t leave a grill unattended.
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children. Supervise children around outdoor grills, which are objects of curiosity.
  • If using a charcoal or wood fire, dispose of hot coals properly by soaking them with water, then stirring to ensure that fire is extinguished. Never place them in plastic, paper or wooden containers.
  • Keep alcoholic beverages away from the grill since they are flammable.

Drinking

Liquids containing alcohol cause the human body to lose more fluid, say health educators. So summertime drinking in the sun or heat can present hazards to health, including impaired judgment, balance and coordination. Consider these safety tips if serving:

  • Use designated drivers.
  • Make non-alcoholic beverages as available as alcoholic drinks.
  • Stop serving alcohol before the party ends.
  • If children are attending the event, remember that alcohol may seem more available to them at a party.

Dining outdoors

Food-borne illnesses favor the hot conditions found at outdoor events where food is not refrigerated or may be undercooked. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers food safety tips:

Cook foods thoroughly to safe minimum internal temperatures.

Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Hot foods should be heated and maintained at 140 °F or warmer with chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays. Cold foods should be held at 40 °F or colder. Maintain cold by placing food dishes in bowls of ice or in a cooler.

Live by the “two-hour rule”: Foods should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Tri County agents like a summer party as much as anyone, especially when they’re safe. For more information about what homeowners and umbrella coverage for the home where you host your parties, contact us today.


The many ways umbrella insurance protects you

04/16/2015 | No Comments

If you don’t already have excess personal liability insurance, it’s time consider buying it. Such a policy could save your assets.

Also called umbrella insurance because it protects you over and above the liability coverage that’s part of your existing homeowner’s and auto insurance, this special type of liability insurance can pay for the monetary damages arising from legal claims against you (leading it to also be known as lawsuit insurance). But it’s much more than that.

Umbrella insurance can also cover the legal fees to defend you from claims of personal injury and property damage that may arise due to accidents. It can even pay for the legal fees to defend you against false arrest and claims of libel, slander and defamation of character.

Do you think all this sounds extreme, and these aren’t risks in your life? Consider a few of these situations.

Let’s say you’re throwing a big party at your home, where alcohol will be served. With the risk of personal accidents or guests driving home after drinking, you could be open to the risk of getting sued. You may think you’re safe because you hired a bartender, served food, ended the party at a reasonable hour and offered taxi services and designated drivers. But that’s not going to protect you in the event of an accident for which you’re held liable.

In another example, let’s say the party is on your back deck — and it suddenly collapses. This happened in real life, and the first liability claims for personal injury were filed the next day! The takeaway here is that if you entertain at home for large groups of people, the risk of a large liability claim is real.

Or have you ever rented a car? Before you do that again, search the Internet for drug busts involving folks who rented a car in which illegal drugs had been left behind. I know, a likely story. But it has apparently happened to lots of people, who’ve been arrested after being stopped in such a rented car. A check with the local police found they get called frequently to pick up illegal drugs and other items when rental car companies are cleaning returned vehicles.

If you check a rental car insurance policy, you’ll discover it doesn’t really cover you for any losses other than damage to the vehicle and loss of possessions.

Or do you have teen drivers at home? Have a pool, a boat, ride motorized vehicles? Have a large amount of assets, savings, etc. to protect? I think you get the picture.

And don’t assume the liability coverage in your home and auto policies is sufficient. Most home insurance covers liability claims only up to $300,000 for personal liability, and most automobile policies provide up to $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident for bodily injury. Amounts covered for property damage are lower, typically around $100,000.

Auto policies include liability insurance to cover the medical expenses, pain and suffering, and legal costs for you, your passenger, the driver of the other vehicle and his passengers. While most states require you to have mandated minimums of liability for auto insurance, they’re usually quite low and don’t provide the protection you need because, depending on the situation, a lawsuit can involve damages of a million dollars or more.

Here’s another thing: Auto and homeowners policies don’t cover certain types of liability claims, such as defamation of character, libel, slander and false arrest. But excess liability insurance should cover the legal costs of defending against such charges, including the costs of clearing your reputation.

The bottom line is that umbrella insurance is an important complement to your existing homeowner’s and auto policies. It provides protection in excess of the other policies’ limits and can be purchased in increments of $1 million to $2 million or more. It costs as little as $250 to $500 a year.

I typically suggest buying it in an amount that equals your net worth, or more. Speak to your insurance agent or financial advisor for guidance on how big of an umbrella you should get.

By: RAY MARTIN MONEYWATCH

Contact a Tri County Agent today with any questions.  We can help personalize your policies.


Drivers, Local Authorities Deal with Tough Winter’s Potholes

03/27/2015 | No Comments

Trusted Choice® survey shows about 50% of U.S. car owners report vehicle pothole damage.

March 26, 2015 Poor road conditions have cost consumers and the insurance industry at least $27 billion over a five year period, according to a 2014 survey commissioned by Trusted Choice® and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”). The survey also reveals that from 2009 to 2014 half of car owners experienced damage to their vehicles as a result of potholes. As millions of Americans encounter potholes as the rough winter wraps, Trusted Choice® urges drivers to be cautious now and as repairs continue.

 

“The snow, ice and freezing rain during the rough winter months left their mark on our roads in Ocean County and across the country,” says Jacki Frank, Owner of Tri County Agency in Brick, NJ – a Trusted Choice® agency. “Severe potholes have led to accidents which may impact insurance rates, as premiums are determined by past claims, accidents and driving violations. Potholes and poor road conditions aren’t just an inconvenience, they are an expensive and dangerous result of harsh winters.”

 

The pothole survey also found that 31% of car owners who reported pothole damage to their vehicles filed a claim with their insurance company. A surprising 65% of respondents who needed repairs said they (or a third party) paid out of pocket for the vehicle to be fixed. Only about 3% said local authorities stepped in to foot the bill. For about 40% of respondents, that bill was more than $500.

 

“This survey highlights how widespread the pothole problem is on our roadways and that the costs are enormous to both the insurance industry and to consumers,” adds Frank  “And now, local authorities are struggling to keep up with the extensive road repairs.”

 

While motorists in the Midwest, Northeast and North Central regions of the country reported the most pothole damage, surprisingly the numbers were not that different even in the Southern and Western regions which typically experience milder winters.

 

“Drivers rely on their auto insurance coverage and their own pocketbooks to deal with unexpected expenses,” continues Frank. “A Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent can help you select the coverage that best suits you and your vehicle by helping you evaluate your insurance needs and risks.”

 

Trusted Choice® independent agents offer the following tips to motorists to help avoid costly damage from potholes and stay safe as they hit the roads after a tough winter:

 

Pothole safety tips:

 

  • Keep an eye on traffic patterns. A number of cars that slows down or move quickly to other lanes may be a sign of major potholes or road damage ahead.
  • Avoid the urge to swerve out of the way of a pothole at the last minute. You may swerve into the path of an oncoming vehicle. Risking damage to your car is wiser than risking the loss of your life or that of another person.
  • Report potholes to your state or local transportation department. Some states and localities have pothole hotlines. Motorists who think their state or local government will pay for damage to their cars may be out of luck. Laws in this area vary by jurisdiction and, even where such remedies are available, conditions may apply such as a requirement that the jurisdiction had notice of the pothole.
  • If you hit a pothole and suspect damage, pull over as soon as it is safe. If you notice damage, record details and specific damage—just as you would in the event of a collision with another motorist—in case you need to file an insurance claim.
  • Check in at least annually with your independent insurance agent to ensure that you have the right coverage.

 

Tri County Agency of Brick is a local Trusted Choice® agency that represents multiple insurance companies, so it offers you a variety of personal and business coverage choices and can customize an insurance plan to meet your specialized needs. This firm adheres to a pledge of performance, committing them to providing excellent customer service. You can visit Tri County Agency of Brick online at http://www.tri-countyinsurance.com or call 732-477-1010.

 

The pothole survey was conducted for Trusted Choice® and the Big “I” by MFour Mobile Research, Inc. using MFour’s Surveys on the Go® Smartphone Application Panel which includes Apple and Android mobile device users. MFour is an independent research company headquartered in Costa Mesa, California. Interviews of a nationally representative sample of 2,565 U.S. car owners were conducted in June 2014 and weighted by age and gender to represent the general U.S. population over age 18. More information about MFour can be obtained at www.mfour.com.


Spring Forward: Spring Cleaning and Safety Updates

03/06/2015 | No Comments

Temperatures are getting warmer and now that it’s spring, it’s time for spring cleaning and making spring time repairs around the house. Taking care of our homes is important, so take a moment to understand how taking care of things around the house can impact your insurance with these spring time tips:

Spring cleaning inside the house

Time to dust, sweep, vacuum and scrub! For many of us, this can also mean cleaning the kitchen and bathroom, where we might find ourselves using chemical based cleaning agents. Make sure that if you’re using these using chemical cleaners you properly ventilate the room you’re in, because sometimes the fumes from these products can be quite powerful. It can be as simple as opening windows and make sure you keep interior doors open to allow air to flow throughout the house. These simple steps can help you prevent getting too dizzy, or potentially passing out if you breathe in too many fumes. It’s also critical to keep and store these products safely- keep them in a cool dry place that isn’t accessible to small children or pets, and always follow the instructions on chemical cleaning products.

You should follow similar rules for ventilation and storage when working with paint or wood stains. In addition to fumes, paint also poses separate risks to hardwood floors, carpets and furniture, so whether you’re just touching up a window frame or redoing the whole room, make sure you use drop cloths to protect floors and furniture. In fact, if you can, move all furniture and area rugs out of the room when painting, but if you cannot, make sure they’re clear of the walls and covered. The last thing you want is a paint stain on your carpets, hardwoods or your furniture.

Never dispose of paint or chemical cleaners down your sink- if you want to get rid of extra or expired cleaning products and paint, contact your local municipality about how and where you can dispose of these items safely. Many communities will designate certain days when they will collect these items so that they can be disposed of appropriately. If you were to improperly dispose of these items you could be found liable for any property or environmental damage they may cause, including clean-up costs and fines from local, state and federal authorities, and under a standard homeowners policy you would not have coverage if you dumped the chemicals, and those costs would come out of pocket.

Checking for Unwanted Guests

No, not the in-laws, but wild animals. During the winter months when temperatures drop, humans aren’t the only ones looking to get in out of the cold. If animals get into your home they have the potential to cause damage to the house, your belongings and they may leave a mess. Certain types of damage by animals may not be covered by your insurance policy, but if you discover damage that appears to be the work of an animal, notify your Trusted Choice® insurance agent and take appropriate steps to remove the animals, and consider hiring a professional pest control firm if you aren’t comfortable doing so yourself.

Reduce your risk of a fire loss

While you’re cleaning the house, take a few moments to check fire extinguishers and smoke detectors. As you go through the house replace all of the batteries in your smoke detectors and test to make sure they work. If you own a fire extinguisher- check its pressure. Most municipalities have inspection requirements for fire extinguishers in public or commercial buildings, but not for private homes, so it’s important you check on at least an annual basis. While extinguishers have a longer shelf life than most products, over time they may lose pressure and the last thing you want to have happen when facing a kitchen fire is to have the extinguisher fail to actually extinguish a fire. When purchasing a fire extinguisher for your home, see that it’s classified for A, B and C fires. These classifications refer to different types of fires- ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids/gases and electrical fires. You want to make sure that your extinguisher is capable of handling these different types of fires.

Dust off the insurance policy

Finally, spring is a great time to review the “whole picture” of your homeowners or renters insurance. Tri County agents have the ability to write insurance with multiple insurance companies, because, like the seasons, your insurance needs change. A Tri County agent can work with you to make sure your coverage fits you and your family’s needs.


Dangerous Temperatures

02/18/2015 | No Comments

The risk of frozen pipes increases with the arctic air and plummeting temperatures.

  • Keep thermostats set to a minimum of 65° F
  • Leave faucets with pipes exposed to an outside wall or poorly insulated areas running at a slow trickle to relieve water pressure

Ice dams and roof collapse are serious concerns due to the rapid accumulation of snow and ice.

  • If you can do so safely, remove snow from roofs using a snow rake with a long extension arm
  • Consider professional removal of snow that poses an immediate danger

General Safety

  • Remove sharp icicles from entryways and other areas where they pose a threat to people or property
  • Keep walkways and driveways cleared of ice and snow to prevent slips and falls

You Can’t Start a Home Business Without This

02/05/2015 | No Comments

Across America, millions of people are enjoying the earning potential that can come from having a home-based business. For some, this form of income is ideal because it provides the flexibility to work part-time around family needs and schedules. For others, a home-based business is a full-time venture. Whatever your type of business, you may benefit from having a home-based business insurance policy to protect it.


Home-Based Business Quick Facts

  • Americans currently run approximately 38 million home-based businesses
  • Statistically speaking, a new in-home business starts up every 12 seconds in this country
  • About 70% of all home-based businesses are still operating 3 years after inception
  • U.S. home-based businesses generate more than $425 billion each year
  • Approximately 20% of all home-based businesses earn more than $100,000 a year

What Are My Options for Home Business Insurance Coverage?

business insurance policy can protect you from potential liability claims and from loss or damage to your merchandise and equipment. There are a wide variety of different kinds of home-based businesses as well as different ways of attaining this coverage. Your main options include:

  • Your homeowners or renters insurance policy: For some smaller home-businesses, simply purchasing an addendum to your home or renters insurance policy will meet your coverage needs. This is ideal for home businesses that do not have a lot of expensive merchandise or equipment to insure. For less than $10 a month, you can receive about $2,500 worth of additional personal property coverage for your business equipment. This sort of coverage does not protect you from liability, however, so if your business faces the potential of a liability lawsuit, you may want to see out one of the options below.
  • A home business policy: These policies are ideal for medium-sized businesses that have assets between $2,500 and $10,000 as well as those that face the potential for a lawsuit due to injuries, property damage or poor work quality. This type of policy generally costs about $20 to $30 month, can provide up to $10,000 in property coverage and $1 million in liability coverage.
  • commercial insurance policy: This sort of policy is meant for larger home-based businesses that have many assets and require a vast amount of coverage. Policies will generally offer several types of liability coverage, including malpractice and negligence in provision insurance. Commercial insurance can provide millions of dollars in property coverage. You can expect a policy of this type for a home business to cost between $50 and $100 a month.

Most home-based businesses can be fully covered with one of these coverage options.

Why Would I Need Home Business Insurance Coverage?

There are a number of circumstances where a home-business insurance policy can save you from financial loss. Risks vary by industry, but consider the following scenarios:

  • If you keep a large amount of inventory in your home and it is damaged in a fire or stolen during a burglary, you may lose thousands of dollars.
  • If work you do has errors that lead to financial losses or embarrassment for a client, you may find yourself on the wrong end of an “errors and omissions” liability claim.
  • If you do product demonstrations and someone becomes ill or injured as a result of using the product you are showcasing, you may be sued for medical costs.
  • If you travel to your clients’ property to do your work, such as with a lawn care or home-organization business, and you inadvertently damage something of great value to your client, you may be sued for property damage.

There are a number of instances where those who run a home-based business may find themselves in need of a suitable homebusiness insurance policy.

What Does In-Home Business Insurance Cover?

An insurance policy for your home-based business can provide the following:

  • Liability coverage: This provides insurance to shield you from losses due to liability claims. A home-business insurance policy will allow you to purchase between $300,000 and $1 million in liability coverage.
  • Property coverage: This provides insurance to shield you from loss or damage to your business assets, including computers and other equipment, merchandise, materials and inventory. You can purchase up to $10,000 in property coverage with a home business insurance plan.
  • Lost income coverage: If you are forced to temporarily cease business operations due to damage caused by a covered event, this insurance will enable you to continue receiving the income necessary to pay employees and bills for up to one year.

Depending on the insurance provider you choose, you may have other coverage options available to you. Some policies will even allow you to include your coverage for up to three employees.


Ice & Snow – Remove It Before You Go

01/22/2015 | No Comments

Remember to remove all ice and snow from your vehicle before driving, especially from the hood, windows and roof. It’s the law in New Jersey! Motorists who fail to do so face fines of $25 to $75 for each offense, regardless of whether the ice and snow is dislodged from the vehicle. If flying ice or snow causes property damage or injury to others, motorists face fines of $200 to $1,000 for each offense. There are approximately 500 fatalities in the United States per year due to icy road conditions.
Winter Driving Tips

  • Drive slow (at or below the posted speed limit) and adjust your speed for the changing road conditions.
  • Turn on your headlights, using low beams when traveling in snow.
  • Increase your following distance. In winter weather, travel at least eight to 10 seconds behind the car in front of you.
  • Give snowplows plenty of room to work. Don’t tailgate and try not to pass. If you must pass, take extreme caution in doing so. Remember, a snowplow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see him, but they don’t always see you.
  • If you skid, don’t brake or accelerate. Remove your foot from the gas, and gently steer your car in the direction of the skid (the direction the rear of your vehicle is sliding.) When your car starts heading in the desired direction, carefully straighten the wheel.
  • Slow down before exiting the highway. Exit ramps often have icy patches, sharp curves and stalled or stopped vehicles.
  • Have a personal safety kit easily accessible in your vehicle that includes: an ice scraper/brush; shovel; jumper cables or battery starter; blanket; sand, salt or kitty litter for traction; lock de-icer; flashlight and new batteries; extra windshield wiper fluid; safety flares/warning device; cell phone with spare battery; water and non-perishable food (i.e., granola or protein bars); and paper towels or a cloth.
  • If your vehicle does become disabled, pull off the road as far as possible and turn on your emergency flashers. Remain with your vehicle until help arrives. If you can’t get your vehicle off the road and are uncertain about your safety, do not stay in your vehicle or stand behind it. Proceed carefully to a safe location away from traffic.

Looking for Affordable Business Insurance?

12/19/2014 | No Comments

How to Trim Costs and Find Deals

Business owners are always looking for ways to improve their bottom line. In a tough economy, especially, belt tightening measures can be the difference between survival and failure of a business. If you are eyeing your insurance coverage for places to trim expenses, you will find some opportunities; it just takes a bit of hunting.

Every commercial operation, from large corporate entities to very small shops, needs commercial coverage. The best way to find deals and get the best possible rates on your business insurance is to work with an independent agent in the Trusted Choice®network.  Our agents have access to multiple companies and can find the most affordable business insurance plan for you, and these carrier partnerships allow independent agents to serve all of your business insurance needs, from property and casualty insurance to directors and officers coverage to workers comp.  Contact Tri County Agency today to get started.


Top 6 Ways to Get the Most Affordable Business Insurance

  1. Work with an independent agent who can compare rates from several sources for you.
  2. Increase your deductibles; you take on a bit more financial risk in the event of a claim, but pay lower premiums.
  3. Don’t buy more than you need.
  4. Request discounts based on safety measures you have implemented.
  5. Bundle your insurance plans together under one insurance company whenever possible.
  6. Pay annually instead of monthly or quarterly.

Cut Back on Costs, Not Commercial Insurance Coverage

The best ways to keep your business insurance costs low are to know exactly what you need, and get the amount that is appropriate for your company. For example, if you never drive a vehicle in the course of doing business, then you most likely do not need commercial vehicle insurance. However, if you do need commercial auto, find every possible savings opportunity within that plan. Be sure to hire experienced drivers with excellent driving records, for example. You can also require them to take a driver safety course. And finally, bundle your auto policies together for multi-policy discounts.

There are definitely ways to find affordable business insurance plans, and one of the most effective ways to get cheaper insurance and trim the fat from your expenses is to cut out excess coverage that you do not actually need. Just make sure you don’t reduce costs by eliminating business policies or important coverage you do need.

Here are a few ideas for ways to save on your business insurance costs:

  • Affordable Commercial Property Insurance: If your commercial property insurance provides more coverage than the value of the property, you can cut back. For example, if you are covering a $200,000 building with $500,000 in coverage, you’re paying too much. You can also typically bundle your general liability insurance into a business owners policy, or BOP, to save costs.
  • Affordable Business Liability Insurance: Your insurance costs will depend on the size of your business and the risks you face. If you are a sole proprietor or have a small retail store, a $5 million policy may be more than you will ever need. Ask your agent whether a $1 or $2 million poliyc would be adequate based on the nature of your business. As with your commercial property coverage, your general liability insurance can typically be bundled into a business owner policy.
  • Affordable Commercial Auto Insurance: If you or your employees drive in the course of doing business, you don’t want to get cheap auto insurance that compromises the quality of your coverage. However, you can often save money by bundling your business vehicle insurance with your other plans, such as your liability coverage or business owner policy. Another way to cut costs on your commercial auto insurance is to raise your deductible. Consider requiring your drivers to take a safety training course, which may result both in fewer claims and lower cost insurance.
  • Loss of Income Insurance: This coverage will help replace your business income and pay your regular costs, such as payroll and rent or mortgage, if for any reason you are temporarily unable to conduct business. You don’t want to scrimp too much on this coverage or you could end up paying your business mortgage after a fire or other devastating event, without the business income to pay for it. One of the best ways to save costs on this coverage is to bundle it into a business owner policy.

Digging Deeper to Find More Business Insurance Discounts

As a business owner, you have a range of opportunities to reduce costs through proactive efforts on your part. One of the most critical steps you can take is to work closely with an independent agent who will devote the time to fully understand your business needs and risks. The process is similar to working with an accountant who knows where to find deductions you wouldn’t necessarily think of on your own.

Tri County Agency of Brick will fully get to know your business and perhaps visit your facility, if appropriate, to learn how you operate. Your agent may identify several additional ways to cut corners on your insurance bill while still getting the highest quality coverage and maintaining an optimal risk management program.

For example, you may be able to get discounts by improving your company’s overall safety and security and remaining claims-free. Some of the ways you can do so include the following:

  • Develop a worker safety training program
  • Install security cameras and a building security system
  • Install a fire sprinkler system and make sure you have accessible, functioning fire extinguishers
  • Strengthen your company firewall against cyber-crime
  • Reduce risk in your daily operations through safety inspections
  • Improve fraud awareness; hire a forensic accountant to train your senior staff on what to watch for
  • Reduce your business liability through safe materials handling, a driver safety program and other safety measures that reduce the likelihood of claims

Some of the measures you take to reduce your commercial insurance costs may require an investment in the short term that will yield discounts and savings in the long run. Your agent can help you to assess which safety and security measures make the most sense for your organization and will yield the best outcomes.

To get the most affordable business insurance for your company, contact Tri County Agency of Brick today. Because our agents work with multiple insurance companies, you will have several options and can choose the best coverage for your company at the rate that fits your budget. Your agent will also be able to combine all of your business coverage in one package, so you have one contact for all of your commercial insurance needs.


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