09/25/2014 | No Comments
Home insurance policies are designed to protect your personal property and provide reimbursement in the event of damage or loss. Yet, when a claim is filed, many people are surprised to find certain items are excluded from coverage. Likewise, some individuals miss the opportunity to file a claim, not realizing they have experienced a covered loss. Below are five areas that tend to cause confusion in the world of home insurance. Do you know which ones are covered by your current policy? (Hint: Ask your insurance agent if you aren’t sure.)
Typically, home insurance covers only minor losses such as damage or theft of home office equipment. According to Paul Martin, CPCU, another example of a covered loss would be damage caused by your child’s after-school job mowing a neighbor’s grass. Most home insurance policies provide a $2,500 loss limitation for business property such as inventory kept in the home, computer equipment, or a fax machine. Yet, those who store inventory such as Pampered Chef items, for example, know how quickly $2,500 adds up.
Also, don’t count on your home insurance to cover business liability losses. If you’re named in a lawsuit connected to a business that is run out of your residence, home insurance won’t cover any related claims. Regarding business activity conducted in your home, purchasing separate business insurance is the best way to guarantee proper coverage.
Motorized items are typically not covered under home insurance for liability purposes. Recreational equipment such as an ATV used in your own backyard may be covered, but if you take that same ATV off of your property and sustain a loss, it will not fall under your home insurance policy. Until recently, even the small motorized Barbie Jeeps driven by young children were excluded from home insurance, but now they are sometimes explicitly named in newer policies.
Motorcycles and golf carts, along with large motorized watercraft, are additional examples of items that are not automatically covered, although some smaller motorboats and sail boats may be included in coverage. Other watercraft such as canoes and kayaks fall under a loss limitation of $1,500.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites accounted for more than one third of homeowners insurance liability claims in 2013, amounting to $483 million in payouts. Most accidents or injuries caused by pets are covered by home insurance unless your policy specifically names a certain breed or size of animal that is excluded. Also, keep in mind that if your dog does bite a human or another dog, it may be excluded from future insurance coverage.
Flood insurance is the prime example of a loss not covered by home insurance. Flood insurance is a federally subsidized program which must be purchased separately, and premiums are set by the National Flood Insurance Program. Earthquake insurance is another example of a required separate policy. Although many people in earthquake-prone areas do consider buying this policy, the risk of loss is still present for those living in parts of the country who may suffer from unexpected earthquakes such as the August 2011 event shaking the East Coast. Volcano damage is also generally excluded from coverage, even in limited geographic areas with an elevated risk of this danger.
Which acts of nature are covered? Hail, wind storms, tornadoes and wildfires are generally included in home insurance policies. Hurricane damage is covered under home insurance as well, except for flood-related damage stemming from these large storms.
Musical instruments, like many other high-value items, fall under a theft loss limitation for home insurance purposes and require a separate rider or policy to guarantee full replacement cost. Otherwise, the $2,000 piccolo that your musically gifted child plays may not return your full investment if he or she drops and breaks it. The same rules apply for firearms, jewelry, silverware and other high value collectible items.
One final instance of insurance protection which causes confusion involves borrowed items. If you borrow an expensive item from your neighbor, such as a high-powered snow blower, and it breaks under your care, you may be liable. Even though the incident occurred on your property, home insurance will not cover any related claims, so you may need to personally bear the cost of replacing your neighbor’s equipment.
If you have questions about personal property items which may or may not be covered by insurance, a Trusted Choice agent can help. Trusted Choice® independent agents work for consumers, not a large parent company, and they are happy to assist you by writing a policy tailored to meet your individual insurance needs.
09/18/2014 | No Comments
If you’re like most Jersey drivers, chances are you’ve experienced aggressive driving in the Garden State. In a Plymouth Rock study, 99% of respondents report having witnessed at least one road rage incident. From insulting gestures to physical altercations, dangerous decisions plague our roads.
The next time you’re feeling stressed behind the wheel or find yourself in the vicinity of an aggressive driver remember these tips to help defuse the situation:
If you experience aggressive driving behavior or road rage in New Jersey, pull over to a safe area and contact New Jersey’s Aggressive Driver System via phone at #77. Remember, your report can help prevent a future tragedy.
By following these pointers and making a commitment against distracted driving, we can all Get Home Safe®.
09/11/2014 | No Comments
Business insurance can be complex, and it takes an experienced insurance agent to help you get the right commercial coverage for your enterprise. You need an agent who can provide not just one portion of your business insurance needs, but all of your commercial coverage, from commercial vehicle insurance to professional liability coverage to workers comp.
An independent agent in the Trusted Choice® network who specializes in business insurance can do just that. Unlike captive agents who provide specific coverage from one insurance company, independent Trusted Choice member agents work with many carriers. These agents can meet all of your commercial insurance needs, even when you need speciality coverage, or several different policies from different carriers.
Independent agents handle over 50 percent of commercial insurance policies in existence today, and are located in over 27,000 offices nationwide. Contact a local member agent in your area today to get help with your entire business insurance portfolio.
Every company, large and small, has unique risks. Some have workers who operate heavy machinery or drive vehicles while on the job, while others serve food and alcohol or handle toxic substances. Doctors and hospital staff handle patients, body fluids, sharp needles and equipment. Some employees handle sensitive documents, data, or money, potentially opening the door to business fraud. For this reason, every company needs commercial insurance coverage specifically matched to the risks of the enterprise.
Determining your risks and making sure you have the right commercial insurance in place requires an evaluation of a wide range of factors, including:
To assess your business insurance needs, start by contacting an independent agent in the Trusted Choice network who specializes in commercial insurance. These agents can fully address every aspect of your business coverage and help to ensure that you do not have gaps that could leave your business exposed to financial risk.
Every commercial operation needs business insurance. The specific blend of coverage types you need for your business depends on many factors, such as whether your employees handle money, dangerous substances, sensitive data or expensive merchandise.
Your agent will be able to recommend a package combining the coverage types you need, tailored to your risk management concerns.
For example, you may need some combination of the following types of commercial coverage:
While you certainly do not need all of these coverage types to safely run your business, it’s nice to know that you have a variety of ways to manage the specific risks your company faces.
You may also want to offer or provide certain types of coverage to your employees, such as:
The coverage you choose for your business and employees should be designed to fully protect your company’s assets. A quality benefits package will show that you are an excellent employer to work for, and may even help you to attract the best talent.
Corporate fraud, or “white collar crime,” is one type of business risk that nearly every commercial enterprise can encounter, whether it is a large corporation, a farm, a school, a restaurant, a non-profit charity, a medical practice or a machine shop. This is because any business operation, large or small, involves the exchange of money for goods and services.
According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), small business owners tend to believe their company is not prone to business fraud. However, in a study the ACFE found that small businesses are actually at a greater risk of employee embezzlement simply because they have a higher level of trust in their staff. The result of that trust can unfortunately result in more opportunity and more temptation for those who have access to the financials.
There are a few key lessons we can learn from the ACFE business fraud study:
A qualified commercial insurance agent can work with you to help you evaluate your business risks and reduce your exposure.
One of the biggest challenges of risk management is simply assessing the potential problems your business may face so you can take the appropriate measures to reduce or eliminate those risks. If you run a commercial operation, there are several vital risk management strategies you can use to protect your business:
By assessing your business risks from multiple angles with a qualified commercial insurance agent, you can more adequately protect your company from the challenges that can undermine your company’s financial health.
A member agent in the Trusted Choice network can review your business needs and help you evaluate the commercial coverage options that make the most sense for your organization. Your agent will also compare policies and quotes from multiple business insurance companies to find just the right fit for you.
These independent agents are devoted to helping you get just the right insurance for your business. Because of their many insurance company partnerships, Trusted Choice independent agents can handle all of your business insurance needs out of one office, simplifying your business policies, and even finding you discounts. Find a local independent agent to get personal assistance today.
09/04/2014 | No Comments
Only 15 percent of people under the age of 18 have life insurance, according to recent research from the American Counsil of Life Insurers. On average, children are covered for only about $5,000 total, which is usually only enough to cover burial expenses. Sometimes this coverage is tacked on for a small fee to a parent’s life insurance policy. Child life insurace policies can be useful tools to help in emergency situatiions, such as falling on hard times and having a whole life policy to cash out. These policies can also come in handy if you have a long history of health problems in your family, like diabetes, cancer, or heart disease. Sometimes buying policies while children are young can ensure they have coverage when they’re older and policies are more costly and harder to find.
If you’re wondering whether you should buy life insurance for your children, it may be helpful for you to do a little research with reputable insurance providers. There are different reasons for buying family life insurance plans and many different types of policies are available. To find out which plan makes sense for your family, you may need some guidance from an insurance professional.
When children have only having one around to support them financially, it can be a challenge for them to get their complete needs met, with regard to daily living expenses, childcare, wellness care and education. If you are considering ways to protect your children from an uncertain financial future, family life insurance may be an excellent solution. To learn more about policy options and what might be right for your situation, contact a member agent in the Trusted Choice network.
The main purpose of buying family life insurance is to protect your whole family financially from a future you can’t predict. Here are some considerations:
Start by discussing your situation with a financial advisor or a local independent insurance agent in your area. By getting help and advice, you can make the most informed choice for your family.
Many people don’t realize that there are certain benefits to buying kids life insurance. One reason to buy life insurance for a young family member is for financial planning purposes, especially when you’re starting financial planning for a baby, for example.
One of the major benefits of life insurance for kids is that a policy will protect them if they develop health problems later in life. In a manner of speaking, you will be insuring their ”insurability” for their future life insurance needs.
Another reason to buy life insurance for your children is to create a financial legacy for them beginning in infancy and going forward to their adulthood.
If you have a child with special needs, a children’s life insurance policy can alleviate any future financial hardships such as ongoing care and medical expenses, when you can no longer provide.
You have two main choices when considering life insurance:
The cost of family life insurance depends on the type of life insurance you buy. Rates vary from one company to another, but in general life insurance for children and young adults is very affordable. Generally speaking, you can expect to pay anywhere between $120 and $360 annually, depending on the insurance options you choose.
Term life insurance policies are the most affordable, while permanent policies such as whole life and universal life are more expensive because of the cash value accumulation feature.
Farm family insurance is provided by insurers who specialize in providing life insurance coverage to families which make their living by farming. A family farm is a small business venture that typically every member of the family participates in at one time or another. Purchasing a farm family life insurance policy can help your family stay on their feet financially if a sudden death should occur.
The optimal amount of life insurance for your family will be dependent on the reasons you want the life insurance for your children. Term life policies will provide protection for your children if they pass away suddenly, and will grow with them as they come into adulthood.
Permanent life policies like whole and universal children’s life insurance will provide the same benefits as term life, but will also have a savings and investment portion that could be lucrative as your child grows older. You can buy an inexpensive $5,000 term policy, a more expensive $250,000 whole life policy, or anything in between.
When reviewing child life insurance and family life insurance quotes, be sure to compare options from several different companies before you make a decision. The best family life insurance company is going to be the one that offers the best value and the best coverage for your needs and budget.
There are a number of considerations that go into any life insurance decision, including your specific needs and goals, the type of policy that makes sense for you, the health risks your children face, and the amount of coverage to buy. You can speak with financial planners and attorneys to help you understand what the best coverage options might be – and of course, you can consult with an independent agent to help you collect quotes efficiently. If you decide to get quotes on your own, just make sure that you evaluate the reputability of each insurance company you get a quote from; rating agencies like AM Best can be a big help. When you have the right policy for your family, you can get peace of mind that your children are ready for whatever this world throws at them.
08/31/2014 | No Comments
School is back in session and many high school and college students will be driving more as they commute to and from school, which makes now a good time to remind your student driver about safe driving practices.
In 2009, approximately 3,000 teens in the United States were killed in car crashes and more than 350,000 were treated for crash-related injuries, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Center for Disease Control. Don’t let your student driver become part of this statistic – encourage him to stay focused while on the road and follow these safety tips:
Keeping your student driver safe on the road is important and part of that means making sure he has the appropriate auto insurance coverage. Your independent insurance agent can help you find the right coverage for your student driver and answer any questions you have about the insurance. You should also ask your independent insurance agent about student driver discounts, such as the good student discount, which can save you 10 to 15 percent on your premium if your student has a B average. Student drivers who have completed an accredited driver education or training course may also be eligible for a discounted auto insurance rate.
08/21/2014 | No Comments
Traffic accident scenarios are common, from fender-benders to highway crashes. In fact, according to the Census Bureau, over 10 million accidents occur on U.S. streets each year. The key is to be prepared so that the costs involved in recovering from an accident are not devastating to your finances.
Trusted Choice® member insurance agents handle the concerns of drivers every day, answering questions like “How much car insurance do I need?” and “How do I choose my auto insurance deductible?” You can find an agent or get a quick insurance quote right now by entering your ZIP code.
Legal defense alone can cause devastating financial hardship, even if it turns out you are not found to be at fault. For this reason, it is important to think carefully about the coverage you may need in the event of an accident. If you buy car insurance online without professional advice, you may not be fully covered.
When you’re on the hunt for accurate insurance quotes, it’s also important to look for coverage that makes sense for your concerns and budget. An independent agent in the Trusted Choice network can help you get fast quotes that are tailored to your real life needs. Moreover, you can get answers to your questions about how much insurance is best for you, how to get discounts and how to keep your costs low.
Independent insurance agents offer several important benefits:
When you work with an independent agent, you are not stuck with one insurance company and the solutions that company provides. Instead, you will have a range of choices from top insurance companies.
Your independent agent will assess your needs based on factors such as the number of drivers in your family and their ages. Your agent will also look at bundling multiple vehicles together, or combining your home and auto policies under one insurance company, so that you can get the best value for your dollar.
Your agent can help you review several policy choices, coverage limits, deductibles and pricing and choose the best fit for you.
Drivers in every state are required to have auto liability insurance, such as personal injury protection (PIP).
Car insurance liability requirements vary by state, and include a minimum amount for bodily injury costs per person and per accident as well as a minimum for property damage liability. If you cause an accident, liability coverage pays those costs, up to the limits set for your policy.
In addition to required liability coverage, you may also want collision coverage to protect your investment in your vehicle. And depending upon your specific needs and risks, you may also want comprehensive coverage – now known as “other than collision.” Together, collision and comprehensive can provide protection for everything from accidents to theft and vandalism.
There are three primary types of insurance coverage:
There are also several different types of coverage which may be available to you, including:
As you consider your policy needs, it is important to keep the coverage limits in mind. The costs of a severe crash can quickly exceed the limits. If that occurs, you will have to pay for costs out of your own pocket.
Shopping for insurance online may be a great way to get information and rough quotes, but there are drawbacks to actually buying your auto coverage that way. One of the drawbacks with buying car insurance online is that it may not match your needs. Many people go looking for instant online insurance, only to find that it is difficult to know whether it offers the right amount and type of protection. Buying a no-frills basic car insurance policy may meet state requirements, but may not provide the compensation you need to recover from an accident.
It is important to discuss your risks and coverage options with a qualified insurance agent who can help ensure that you don’t have coverage gaps. An independent agent can help you learn everything you need to know to make an informed decision about your car insurance.
You can get started getting the car insurance you need right now by getting quotes or by finding a local independent agent in the Trusted Choice network who will work with you to find a plan that meets your family’s needs and budget.
Independent agents are able to compare insurance plans from multiple insurance providers so you can find the best policy for you. When you need to compare options and quotes, a member agent in the Trusted Choice network is your one-stop shop.
Your agent will not only take time to understand your needs and help you compare quotes, but will help find discounts so you can get better value from your policy. And your agent will continue to be accessible to you with one local phone call when you have questions or concerns, or need to file a claim.
There are over 27,000 Trusted Choice member agency locations nationwide. To find a local agency, enter your ZIP code.
08/14/2014 | No Comments
As children return to school across the country, families know that can also mean a return to the practice field, whether through school sports teams or community sports programs and often parents may find themselves on the sidelines as a volunteer coach. It can be especially rewarding to teach children the skill sets of a sport or to impart important life lessons about winning, losing and sportsmanship, but volunteers should also know that being a volunteer coach may impact their personal insurance coverage.
Do I have coverage through the organization running the team/league?
Do I have coverage under my auto policy while transporting my team?
Do I have coverage under my homeowners policy?
Your homeowners insurance provides you with protection against claims of bodily injury, but the organization you’re volunteering for may provide this coverage, so your homeowners or renters insurance would be secondary to any insurance coverage provided by the organization if a player in your care were to be injured as part of being involved on the team.
Can I obtain additional coverage?
The good news is that you can purchase additional coverage that will help cover costs over your existing coverage with a Personal Umbrella Policy. It’s important to understand that the umbrella coverage only comes into play after other coverage has been exhausted, but it provides added peace of mind and the premium is usually very affordable.
Volunteering as a coach means that you’ll have the opportunity to be a positive contributor to the growth and development of young people. As a responsible adult, it’s important to look out for the best interests of the kids in your care, as well as your own interests and Trusted Choice ® Independent Insurance Agent can help you answer and understand these questions.
08/07/2014 | No Comments
Could your car’s worst enemy be…a shopping cart? How could a motor-less, four-wheeled wannabe pose such a threat to a proper automobile? Believe it or not, one of the most common causes of body damage to a car is the dings and dents received by not-so-innocent buggies in the parking lots of your neighborhood grocery store. The question is: If your car is the next victim, how will your car insurance respond?
When dealing with damage to your car, there are two types of insurance: collision and other-than-collision (commonly called OTC or “comprehensive”). A common misconception is that the two are one and the same; likely because of their collective nickname: “physical damage.” In fact, they are separate types of insurance covering different types of losses, usually containing different deductibles and warrant a separate premium. Many drivers carry both, some carry one or the other, and others forgo this insurance all together.
Drivers who don’t have collision or OTC coverage should not expect to receive any dollars for damage caused by this rolling enemy. Drivers who do purchase collision, OTC or both must rely on the facts to determine which one will apply. Many drivers that have both may have a higher deductible on one or the other and, depending on how the loss is classified, be forced to pay the larger deductible. That difference could mean hundreds of dollars out-of-pocket.
For example, what happened that ultimately introduced the shopping cart to your car’s new paint job? If you back into a cart or someone accidentally runs into your car while steering toward the space next to yours, these claims could fall under the heading of collision.
But people aren’t the only culprits. Many cars are damaged by a cart that rolls due to an uneven surface or a gust of wind. These claims could fall under the heading of OTC.
Unfortunately, history has proven that there is no absolute rule in determining where shopping cart claims should be paid; each claim is fact specific. The important thing for drivers to realize is that it is possible for the claim to be covered under either. To help control the out-of-pocket cost surrounding this mystery, drivers could consider carrying the same deductible amount for both collision and OTC—this way at least you know what it will cost regardless of the details. Changing deductibles is a simple process that can be made in one quick phone call to your Trusted Choice®insurance professional.
And next time you go to the store remember to watch for unattended buggies… you might just be their next target!
07/31/2014 | No Comments
As a business owner, you may have one or more vehicles, such as delivery vehicles, taxis, limos or buses. The right commercial auto insurance covers you for accidents, injuries and other incidents that can put those investments at risk.
What coverage do you need, and how much? What are the risks to you, your drivers, and your business that commercial auto insurance can cover? To get your questions answered and find a policy you can afford, talk with a local independent agent in the Trusted Choice® network. Trusted Choice member agents who specialize in business insurance can provide quotes on all of your commercial insurance needs.
The Department of Transportation investigated the impact of distraction in commercial motor vehicle (CMV) crashes and safety-critical events in 2009. They found the following:
Commercial automobile insurance is a broad term that refers to most commercial business automobiles, including but not limited to:
Commercial auto policies cover personal cars that are used for business, as well as SUVs, light duty trucks, buses, limousines, taxicabs, vans and other delivery vehicles used solely for business purposes. Use of these automobiles is associated with a range of risk factors, including how you use them, how often, and how many miles they travel each year, among other factors. Insurance companies review these risk factors along with any efforts your company may make to improve driver safety, when they assess the amount of coverage your business needs.
If you are looking for coverage information on large trucks and heavy equipment used for business purposes, refer to the commercial truck insurance section.
Commercial auto insurance is similar to personal auto insurance in basic coverage, such as liability, comprehensive, collision and other types of coverage that are specific to business vehicle use. A commercial auto policy is designed to protect your business from significant losses that could affect your company’s financial wellbeing.
Commercial auto insurance policies combine several different types of coverage – some are required and some are optional. A typical policy includes some combination of the following:
The right commercial insurance can protect you, your business, and all of the drivers in your commercial cars, vans, pickup trucks or limos in an accident. One of the most critical ways to protect your company is by having adequate liability coverage in case you or one of your employees causes an accident that injures another person or damages their property. If a claimant files a law suit against your business due to an accident, your company’s finances can be at stake. Depending upon the circumstances, even your personal finances as the business owner can be at risk.
Make sure your commercial auto insurance protects your business investment and personal liability by covering the costs of damages, claims, legal fees and the amount awarded to the claimant. An independent agent in the Trusted Choice network can help you to determine appropriate levels of protection for your business and your personal assets, and provide a range ofquotes from several insurance companies for you to compare.
Small business owners and entrepreneurs often use their own cars while on the job without a second thought. However, it is important to know that your personal insurance may not cover commercial use of your auto.
It’s very common for a small business owner to send an employee out on an errand, whether to get supplies from the local store or to give a business consultant a ride from the airport. If the staff member gets behind the wheel of his own car, and the business owner does not have a commercial auto insurance policy in place that covers that worker and his car, any injuries or damage that result from an accident may not be covered.
Regardless of how much or how little you and your employees use personal vehicles in the course of doing business, getting adequate coverage in place can prevent a financially damaging event from putting your business at risk.
Many people start their insurance-quote shopping online. The downside is that an automated online system cannot answer your questions, compare dozens of companies and quotes, and give you fast but accurate results. It is also important to know that with direct insurance companies, you are typically restricted to buying one type of policy.
An independent agent, by contrast, can provide all of your commercial coverage through one office. A local independent agent in the Trusted Choice network can sit down with you, get to know your business, and learn how you and your employees use your business automobiles. Your agent will ask a variety of questions designed to not only get you an accurate quote, but also find discounts that may be available to you. You may be asked questions such as:
Your agent will work closely with you to assess your needs and ensure your policy fully meets your needs and provides the level of coverage you are seeking.
A Trusted Choice member agent is your best resource for all of your business insurance needs. An independent member agent can research many companies that provide commercial auto insurance to find the best quotes, and put together a package of business and commercial auto insurance for you. You can get all of your business coverage conveniently right through one office.
If you’re in the market for commercial auto insurance, or if you have coverage already but aren’t sure it’s comprehensive or competitively priced, find a local Trusted Choice independent agent. You will get an open and honest assessment of your coverage to determine whether or not you can do better.
07/25/2014 | No Comments
A home away from home is what most renters look for during summer vacation. The perks of more space and privacy in a vacation home are invaluable, but if a disaster like theft or fire strikes, replacement damages can be very costly. When renting a vacation home, the oceanfront view isn’t the only thing to consider, as many people are starting to grasp the importance of understanding just how far their insurance policies reach. Here are a few tips and answers to your vacation insurance questions:
Under most homeowner policies, personal property owned or used by the insured is covered worldwide; So if you need to bring linens or kitchen supplies to the cottage, or if you need to stay connected while on vacation, bring your laptop or mobile device along, and you should have coverage if anything is lost or damaged by a covered peril.
A notable exception is for personal property which usually stays in another residence of the insured (second home, etc.), for which only 10% of the homeowner’s coverage applies. There may also be no theft coverage for watercraft and equipment, trailers or campers away from the residence premises.
Most homeowners or renters insurance policies will only cover damage to the rented premises due to fire, smoke or explosion. Some personal umbrella policies may cover other types of damage to the premises, so it is important to discuss your plans with one or more trusted advisers.
Before hitting the road and heading to the cottage, be sure to call your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent to discuss additional coverage, and to address any questions you may have. Having peace of mind is the best start to a relaxing summer vacation!
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