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.
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.
A 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:
Most home-based businesses can be fully covered with one of these coverage options.
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:
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.
An insurance policy for your home-based business can provide the following:
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.
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
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.
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:
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:
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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