09/21/2015 | No Comments
One of the most important areas of safety in our neighborhoods is around the school bus. Not only is it crucial for keeping kids safe, it is also the law. Below is a quick refresher course on school bus safety 101 for drivers.
Remember, the fines for improper passing of a school bus range from $102 to $252, and could include up to 15 days in jail as well as a 30-day suspension of your driver’s license, plus 5 points. Even more important, you are endangering the welfare of a child.
08/06/2015 | No Comments
Celebrating a child’s birthday is a joyous occasion for family and friends. Parents strive to fulfill their children’s wishes on their special day, but often, those wishes come with a hefty price tag.
Years ago, simple house parties with a cake and piñata were the norm. But today, many families take child parties to a whole new level, selecting elaborate venues and doling out expensive goodie bags. According to TodaysParent.com, hosting kids’ parties at a venue or with entertainers tends to cost a few hundred dollars minimum. In addition to this financial investment, parents should understand their responsibilities and liabilities when hosting a birthday party for their child.
Whether you decide to host your child’s party at your home or at an overpriced warehouse filled with moon bounces, you need to take precautionary measures to protect yourself in the event of an accident. The liability portion of your homeowners or renters policy should explain how you’re protected if you are sued or found liable for an accident involving a party guest.
When you rent a facility, the facility usually provides a waiver that excludes them from liability for injuries and risks. If the facility does not require the parents of each child to sign a waiver, ask for a copy and offer it to parents when you send party invitations. This gives parents ample time to review the waiver should they have additional questions.
And don’t forget about health issues. Gluten-free requirements and peanut allergies scare any parent who is feeding children other than their own. The liability portion of your homeowners policy will address relevant implications if a child or adult gets sick from consuming food at your home.
If you are hosting a child’s party and invite parents, you probably plan to cater to the adults as well. Parents like cake and ice cream, but some parents may opt for “adult beverages” over fruit punch. In the event you serve alcohol, know your state laws and statutes. Some states can hold party hosts liable if a guest is involved in an alcohol-related accident. And liability is not always limited to your guest and their injury or responsibility in an accident involving alcohol—if your guest or a third party suffers an injury from an accident and the alcohol links back to you, you could be held responsible for vehicle repair costs, lost time for work, medical bills or even claims for wrongful death.
In an effort to save money, some parents promote a drop-off policy for parties, which eliminates the need to feed parents and children. If your drop-off party is a slumber party, your risks are mainly limited to your homeowners policy. But if parents drop off their children and you transport the children to another place, you should take a quick peek at your auto policy. Make sure you have adequate bodily injury liability limits to cover injuries in the event of an accident.
Your children may receive gifts on their special day, but there’s no better gift than peace of mind. Talk to your Tri County Agent before you plan your child’s birthday party to ensure you have the coverage you need to fully protect your home and finances. A party can turn out to be a wonderful celebration for your child and guests. Let your Tri County Agent help you to make that happen.
07/07/2015 | No Comments
Tri-County Agency of Brick is Proud to Support U.S. Veterans With New Pre-Licensing Program
7/7/15 – Tri-County Agency of Brick, a member of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of New Jersey (IIABNJ), is pleased to announce the support of a new association program that supports the men and women of our armed forces. The U.S. Veterans Pre-Licensing Program, launched on Memorial Day 2015, assists U.S. Veterans in obtaining their New Jersey insurance license.
“As a member of IIABNJ, it is an honor to help bring this program to our state’s veterans,” said Jacki Frank. “We are excited to see future leaders come out of this program and begin a successful career in the insurance industry.”
IIABNJ’s U.S. Veterans Pre-Licensing Program includes an online Property/Casualty Pre-Licensing Course, the New Jersey State Licensing Exam, the Initial Insurance License, a Pre-Employment Assessment Test, and access to a robust Career Center, all free of charge.
To gain access to the program, veterans will need to provide current photo identification, honorable discharge papers (DD 214 form), proof of New Jersey residency, and a current resume. Upon verification, veterans will receive complimentary access to the online course, which is required prior to taking the state exam. Upon completion of the course, veterans may proceed to take the state exam and subsequently apply for their initial license; both of which are refundable by IIABNJ upon completion.
“Tri-County Agency of Brick understands that U.S. Veterans deserve support as they re-enter the civilian world. We believe that by supporting such an honorable program, we can not only assist with this initiative, but can help perpetuation the insurance industry with qualified individuals,” said Frank.
Veterans who are interested in learning more about this program may visit www.iiabnj.org/veterans or contact IIABNJ at 609-587-4333 for a verification location nearest them.
About Tri-County Agency of Brick
Tri-County Agency of Brick is a family owned and operated agency that has served Ocean & Monmouth Counties for over 45 years. Tri-County is also licensed in Pennsylvania, Maine, and Georgia. For more information about Tri-County Agency of Brick, visit www.tri-countyinsurance.com.
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!
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
02/18/2015 | No Comments
The risk of frozen pipes increases with the arctic air and plummeting temperatures.
Ice dams and roof collapse are serious concerns due to the rapid accumulation of snow and ice.
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