Cleaning Up The Mess

11/01/2013 | No Comments

Be sure your policy adequately covers you for debris cleanup in the event of a loss.  Great points to consider from Trusted Choice.

It’s after the wind blows or the fire burns. The insured is sifting through the rubble of what used to be his commercial building, looking for any savable scraps of what used to be.
The good news is that the loss is covered and the insured will be getting a check for the cost to replace the building. The better news is that the policy limit was adequate and the insured will not suffer the consequence of coinsurance. But it’s not over. The insured discovers that, due to increased demand resulting from widespread damage, hiring a contractor to remove the debris will be more expensive than anticipated. But that shouldn’t be a problem because the policy limit is adequate…right?

Most commercial property policies will cover the cost to remove debris resulting from a covered cause of loss. However, coverage may be limited or excluded depending on a few important factors addressed in the policy.

Factor #1 – How much is enough?
First, consider that it is not cheap to remove certain types of debris. For example, removing debris of an old frame building may be less labor-intensive than debris of a building with substantial masonry or steel. Removing such items will likely require the use of a contractor and heavy equipment. Also consider that high demand brought on by widespread damage will likely increase the contractor’s fee for service.
Second, consider how the policy calculates coverage to remove debris. Most policies say that the insured will have access to a stated amount—typically $10,000—plus the lesser of:

  • 25% of the paid loss plus the deductible, or
  • The remainder of the policy limit minus the paid loss.

For example, consider a loss to a building valued at $1 million. If the loss amount is $100,000 and the deductible is $5,000, coverage would be determined as follows:

  • 25% times the paid loss ($95,000) plus the deductible ($5,000) = $25,000, or
  • The remainder of the policy limit ($1 million minus $95,000) = $905,000.

In this claim, the insured has access to $25,000 plus the stated amount of $10,000 to clean up the mess.
Now consider the same building, only this time it is a much greater loss of $900,000. Coverage would be determined as follows:

  • 25% times the paid loss ($895,000) plus the deductible ($5,000) = $225,000, or
  • The remainder of the policy limit ($1 million minus $895,000) = $105,000.

In this claim, the insured has access to $105,000 plus the stated amount of $10,000 to clean up the mess. In the event of a total loss, it’s likely the policy won’t pay more than the stated amount of $10,000. The purpose of these examples is to show that the more severe the loss, the less money the policy includes for cleanup.

Factor #2 – What is ‘covered property’?
Most commercial property policies will pay only the cost to remove debris of “covered property.” This definition includes items specifically listed as such in the policy. The policy also lists items that are defined as “property not covered.” Items meeting this definition may also require cleanup, and the cost associated will not be paid by the insurance company. Examples of these items include pieces of the parking lot, building foundation, landscaping, and items that end up on your property from somewhere else.

Factor #3 – Pollutants
If a building is damaged and the site must be cleared, items defined in the policy as “pollutants” may require special care. For example, consider a print shop that catches fire, releasing highly toxic inks and dyes into the ground. Local engineers may require you to extract those pollutants from the site. If so, the cost may be substantial and is typically not covered by a commercial property policy or is limited to a specified dollar amount that may not be enough, such as $10,000.

What’s the Solution?
The best solution to this potentially large gap in coverage is to call your Trusted Choice® insurance professional. We can help you amend your existing policy to offer more coverage for the cost to clean up debris. We can also help you minimize your exposure by amending the policy to cover items that are currently excluded, such as those examples listed above. Further, we can help you understand the meaning of “pollutants” in your policy and determine if your property contains items that may require special care to remove.

Cases of Cyber Bullying Are On The Rise

10/25/2013 | No Comments

Trusted Choice has some great tips for parents to help with this unfortunate consequence of the information age.

Once considered a “rite of passage,” bullying is now viewed as a disturbing form of abuse. In many cases, bullying has caused long-term emotional damage to children and their families, and in some instances, even death. According to the iSAFE foundation, “over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying.”

Cyber bullying, a recent phenomenon that has coincided with the growing use of Internet and mobile devices, has tragic consequences for children, their families and communities across the world. As cyber bullying has become more common, it is important for parents to understand both its nature and how to be more hands-on when it comes to prevention.

What is Cyber Bullying? defines cyber bullying as “when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor.”

Cyber bullying can come in many forms, including:

  • Sending mean messages or threats to a person’s email account or cell phone
  • Spreading rumors online or through text messages
  • Posting hurtful or threatening messages on social networking sites or web pages
  • Stealing a person’s account information to break into an online account, and send damaging messages
  • Pretending to be someone else online to hurt another person
  • Taking unflattering pictures of a person and spreading them through cell phones or the Internet
  • Sexting, or circulating sexually suggestive pictures or messages about a person

Insurance and Cyber Bullying: Protection for Parents

Parents whose children have been negatively affected by cyber bullying have recently started taking action, including suing the parents of their child’s bullies for personal injury. Usually unaware of the issue until after the fact, the parents facing lawsuits are unprepared both emotionally and financially. Most standard homeowners insurance policies do not cover personal injury, and court costs can extend well into the millions, depending on the extent of harm done.

Coverage for personal injuries like slander and libel may be covered by most homeowners policies, but this often requires attaching a special endorsement. But these policies also typically cover liability claims that involve accidental damage, specifically excluding losses that are “expected or intended.” That means if harm is intended—often true in the case of cyber bullying—the policy may not provide coverage. And while some umbrella policies might provide broader coverage, they also often exclude deliberate acts to harm others.

What You Can Do: Taking Preventative Steps

In addition to talking with your children about cyber bullying and offering advice on handling conflict take the following preventative measures to help prevent cyber bullying:Keep your home computer in a busy area of your house.

  • Set up email and chat accounts with your children. Make sure you know their screen names and passwords, and check to be certain they don’t include any personal information in their online profiles.
  • Regularly review your child’s instant messenger “buddy list” with them. Ask who each person is and how your child knows him or her.
  • Print this list of acronyms that are commonly used in instant messenger and chat rooms and post it by your computer.
  • Discuss cyber bullying with your children and ask if they have ever experienced it or seen it happen to someone.
  • Explain that you won’t blame your children if they are cyber bullied. In particular, emphasize that you won’t take away their computer privileges—this is the main reason kids don’t confide in adults when they are cyber bullied.

Tri-County Agency of Brick Celebrates 25 Years of Serving NJ Shore Residents

10/23/2013 | No Comments

Tri-County Agency of Brick is proud to be celebrating 25 years of providing superior service to Ocean and Monmouth County residents. As a family owned business, Tri-County Agency believes in the importance of staying active in the community and staying loyal to the clients we represent. We have been working with local families and businesses, helping them welcome new members to the family, buying that new home or car, helping business owners protect their assets, and weathering the worst storms Mother Nature could muster.

The goal at Tri-County Agency is to develop long-standing relationships with clients and the community by providing exceptional service, knowledge, and care. We are dedicated to treating you as a person, not a policy.

Tri-County Agency of Brick is a Trusted Choice® agency and over the years our agency has grown and has adapted to the needs of our clients by increasing the number of companies we represent, as well as broadening the various line of products we offer. In addition to traditional personal, auto, and business policies, we also offer coverage for special events, home based businesses, and insurance for hospitality fields.

During the last 25 years, Tri-County Agency has been there for NJ Shore residents through good times and bad.  We are members of the local community, we live here too.  We strive to be more than just your insurance agent.  We thank our customers for voting Tri-County Agency of Brick as Ocean County’s “Best of the Best” Insurance Agency in the Asbury Park Press Readers Choice Awards for the past three years.

We are truly thankful for everyone in the community for helping to make the last 25 years so memorable and meaningful; and we look forward to continuing to serve Ocean and Monmouth Counties for another 25 years!

Tri County Agency of Brick was voted Ocean County’s “Best of the Best” Insurance Agency in the Asbury Park Press Readers Choice 2013!

10/17/2013 | No Comments

To Our Loyal Clients,

We are proud to announce that Tri County Agency of Brick was just voted Ocean County’s “Best of the Best” Insurance Agency in the Asbury Park Press Readers Choice 2013!!

We want to thank our loyal clients and friends for making us the “Best of the Best” for a third year in a row!  At Tri County Agency of Brick our goal has always been to provide our clients with the best possible customer service and to offer each client products and services that are best suited for their individual needs, whether for their home, car, or business. It is heartwarming to know that we have succeeded in serving our clients the very best our agency has to offer.

We will continue working every day to do our best to serve the community and our clients with the Best of the Best in customer service and in providing the best possible products for our clients.

We are truly honored to once again be voted Ocean County’s Best of the Best and we sincerely thank all our clients and friends for their continued support.


Tri County Agency of Brick

Make Fire Emergency Readiness an October Tradition

10/08/2013 | No Comments

Enjoy these Fire Safety Tips from Trusted Choice!

Add a new custom to the October traditions of Halloween candy, costumes and setting back your clocks: The end of Daylight Savings Time is the perfect time to change the batteries in your smoke alarms and to check the readiness of your fire extinguishers.

Smoke alarms are commonplace in homes, but fire extinguishers are still underutilized and misunderstood safety tools for many renters and homeowners. Your Trusted Choice® agent wants you to know that owning the proper extinguishers and understanding their correct use could mean the difference between a major fire loss to your property and a relatively minor cleanup.

If you need to brush up on your fire safety knowledge, a great first step would be to study the animated fire-extinguisher tutorial provided at With clear and simple explanations, it reveals the four elements necessary for a fire to exist — oxygen, heat, fuel and a chemical reaction — and how the right extinguisher works by removing one or more of those elements. The tutorial also clarifies the different types of fires — classified as A, B, C, D and K — and the specific extinguishers designed for each. Determining the most likely classification of fire to affect your home helps you purchase the proper fire extinguishers.

If you need to brush up on your fire safety knowledge, a great first step would be to study the animated fire-extinguisher tutorial provided at With clear and simple explanations, it reveals the four elements necessary for a fire to exist — oxygen, heat, fuel and a chemical reaction — and how the right extinguisher works by removing one or more of those elements. The tutorial also clarifies the different types of fires — classified as A, B, C, D and K — and the specific extinguishers designed for each. Determining the most likely classification of fire to affect your home helps you purchase the proper fire extinguishers.

If you already have purchased appropriate fire extinguishers for your home or apartment, congratulations! But don’t let your best-laid plans be defeated. We recommend that you practice the proper use of each type of extinguisher — since the last thing you want to do when confronted by a sudden fire is to read directions or, worse, waste the power of your extinguisher through improper technique.

So, every October, when it’s time to set your clocks back, make it a tradition to change your smoke alarm batteries and to follow these five extinguisher inspection tips from the experts at the Fire Equipment Manufacturers’ Association:

  • Be sure the fire extinguisher is visible and easily accessible.
  • Be sure the safety seal is not broken or missing.
  • Be sure the gauge or pressure indicator arrow points towards the green section, indicating correct pressure.
  • Be sure the extinguisher shows no corrosion or leakage and has no obvious damage, such as dents, gouges or burn marks.
  • Be sure the operating instructions are legible.

Smoke alarms and the proper use of fire extinguishers can help minimize the risk of a small fire turning into a major conflagration. But when the worst happens, the proper insurance coverage is an excellent and necessary safety net. Talk with Your Trusted Choice® agent about a review of both your safety preparations and your current insurance coverage to be sure you, your family and your valuable possessions have the protection you want and deserve.

Keep Home Fires Burning in the Proper Place

Home fires tragically result in thousands of deaths and injuries annually. And the latest statistics show clearly that working smoke alarms and proper fire extinguishers — along with proper evacuation planning — make a difference:

  • In the U.S., an average of seven people die per day in home fires.
  • Of all fires in structures or buildings, fires in homes cause 92% of civilian deaths.
  • Fires in homes that have no smoke alarm cause 37% of home fire deaths.
  • Nearly a quarter (23%) of home fire deaths happen in homes that do have smoke alarms, but the alarms do not work.
  • From 2007 to 2011, the average annual direct property damage from home fires was $7.2 billion.
  • The two major causes of home fires are cooking equipment, which causes 43% of home fires, and heating equipment, which causes 16%.

Hunting Safety

10/01/2013 | No Comments

Helpful tips from Trusted Choice for anyone planning to hunt this season.

As hunting season comes to a head, many professionals are gearing up to find game for the holidays. Whether a professional or amateur hunter, you can never be too safe. Here are a few tips on doing that!


Usually states require a license for those who participate in hunting activities. Search your state government’s website for more information about how to acquire your license. You can also get the information on approved hunting areas in your state. Begin to look into acquiring your license months before hunting season to avoid any delay.

Many homeowners policies have a sublimit for firearms. If you have an extensive collection or valuable guns, you may want to consider talking to your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent about insuring them on a special endorsement to the policy.


According to the United States Forest Service, here are things you should do to prepare the day of your hunting excursion:

  • Check weather reports before visiting the forest.
  • Tell someone where you will be hunting and when you will return.
  • Be familiar with the area you want to hunt.
  • Dress properly and be prepared for the worst possible conditions.
  • During certain seasons, wear hunter orange viewable from all directions.
  • If accompanied by a dog, the dog should also wear hunter orange or a very visible color on a vest, leash, coat, or bandana.
  • Check hunting equipment before and after each outing, and maintain it properly. Familiarize yourself with its operation before using it in the field.
  • Carry a spare set of dry clothing. Use layering techniques to prevent moisture while retaining body warmth. Always bring rain gear.
  • Carry a first aid kit.
  • Clearly identify your target before shooting. Prevent unfortunate accidents or fatalities.
  • Put hunting plans in writing (dates, times, location and expected time of return). The Coast Guard recommends putting boating plans in writing; leaving one at home and one on your vehicle.
  • Be alert when hunting near developed areas and trails. Other recreationists are in the forest as well.
  • Avoid wearing white or tan during deer season. Wear hunter orange or another highly visible color.


In the off-season, be sure to keep guns and ammunition locked up and secure. Also be sure to secure keep hunting vehicles insured in the off-season. You don’t want to come upon the next hunting season and forget to insure your hunting vehicle or have lapses. Talk to your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent about insuring expensive hunting gear and vehicles. Happy hunting!


09/24/2013 | No Comments

Advice from Trusted Choice for individuals going through a Divorce.

After 17 years of marriage, Ann and David have recently decided to end their union.  One can imagine that this time is emotionally devastating for them, but for many couples in the midst of divorce, finances and a secure future are at the forefront of their thoughts as well. Losing a partner can equate to losing half of your assets and financial security, and beyond restructuring monthly bills, insurance policies must also be restructured. If you are going through a divorce, talk to your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent about the proper steps to making your insurance changes.

Emotions can be intense when going through an ordeal like divorce, but remember your legal responsibility. Never alter documents and paperwork to sway in your favor, as it could result in financial and legal penalties if you are caught. A Trusted Choice® Independent can be of assistance in facilitating necessary changes to policies, and usually a change in policy will require both parties named on policies to give consent to those changes. If you and your spouse cannot agree on terms, joint policies may need to stay in place until the divorce is finalized and attorneys can advise your agent on how to proceed.

If you and your spouse have life insurance policies, part of your divorce settlement should involve coordinating the ownership and beneficiaries of the policies and any trusts that are involved. When children are involved, it is important to consider the financial obligations set in place to take care of your children should one of you pass away.

Divorcing couples should notify their agents when the ownership of assets changes. Even if your spouse owns or has use of a vehicle or residence, you could still find yourself liable. Note that you may lose spousal discounts and possibly other discounts which have been bundled. Try to review these changes with your agent before your divorce proceedings, as you should be able to incorporate those expenses in the final settlement.

Usually couples utilize health insurance under one spouse’s employee benefits.  If you were under your spouse’s insurance policy, you should be able to obtain health insurance through your employer if you work. Under the COBRA act, you may be able to stay on your spouse’s health insurance for up to three years, if you pay the premium yourself. Again, consider your children and who will be responsible for their health insurance.

Talk to your agent about disability and long-term care insurance. Single people should be concerned about disability and long-term care insurance can be harder to handle, especially because you must consider that you will not have someone to take care of you if something happens. This alone can increase the amount of the policy. With disability insurance, you must currently have income in order to qualify, and typically disability insurance will cover 60-70% of your income. Be sure to have your divorce settlement address what happens with alimony payments in the event of disability, if it applies.

Most long-term care insurance policies are individual policies and are not generally impacted by divorce; but be sure to check the policy. Again, remember that if you received a discount for being married, the premium may increase if you become divorced. Don’t forget to include the premium amount as an expense when your address the final settlement. Also, depending on your age, if you do not have long-term insurance, consider getting it. Being single now means you may not have someone to take care of you, and you will have to pay for long-term care expenses yourself.

Your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent can walk you through all of these steps. Divorce can be very hard, but Trusted Choice® is here to assist you in any way.

Transporting Kids to School Events

09/19/2013 | No Comments

More sound advice for Back to School from Trusted Choice.

As early as they start school, children become involved in extra-curricular activities. Adults charged with getting groups of kids from home or school to the ball field and back home again are usually more concerned with maintaining their sanity than auto insurance. However, hauling kids around could have a serious affect on your coverage.

In an auto accident, drivers can be legally liable for their passengers’ injuries. Most personal auto policies will extend coverage for injuries to passengers when driving your own car. But what if you rent or borrow a large van to take the soccer team out of town for a weekend tourney? While most auto policies will cover your actions in a car that isn’t yours, many contain restrictions on the size and type of vehicle they will cover.

School employees, such as teachers and coaches, who use their school’s vehicles to haul students and players from place to place have another reason to be concerned. In addition to possible size restrictions, there’s a concern with regular usage; specifically, your personal auto insurance policy may not pay for your liability from an accident in a vehicle that is not yours but is provided for your regular use. In addition to uncertainty with whether or not your policy will even respond, another serious concern is adequate limits of insurance. A serious injury to a single passenger could mean thousands of dollars in medical and other costs stemming from the injury, and those dollars increase with the more passengers that are involved. There are published accounts of accidents involving adults driving in a car pool in which damages greatly exceeded $1 million.

Yet, many adults continue to purchase auto liability limits based on the minimum required by state law. In some states, this required amount may be as little as $10,000 per person and $20,000 total for all injuries in an accident—not likely sufficient when you consider the severity of certain injuries and the number of passengers involved. Remember also that this limit applies for all injuries caused by an accident for which you are liable, including passengers of other cars.

Adults driving kids to athletic and other events should consider maintaining the highest liability limits possible, as well as a personal umbrella policy. The umbrella can provide much higher limits of liability, some well over $1 million.

Today’s drivers are faced with a multitude of distractions that pose a risk for accidents. Understanding your personal auto insurance could help bring at least a little peace of mind – talk to your Trusted Choice® insurance professional if you have any questions. 

School’s Back in Session: Back to School Tips

09/12/2013 | No Comments

Back to School Tips from Trusted Choice.

It is that time of year again! Uniforms are laid out, lunches are packed, and school buses are on the road everywhere. As the school year begins, you may think, you have everything in order, but here are a few things to consider adding to your Back-to-school list of things to do for children at every age:

Tiny Tots (Infants-toddler aged children)
Most day care facilities require every child to turn in a medical review form, ensuring that little Timmy has had the proper shots and vaccines before the school year begins. Most of these forms require parents to make a trip to the doctor’s office, so be sure to include this on your list of things to do, prior to the beginning of the school year. Also, check with your local government about free back to school immunization clinics that are usually offered in August and September.

Little Lads and Ladies (preschoolers)
Children are our most precious and valuable assets. Just as parents know, day care centers and pre-schools know this and should have policies in line to cover little Timmy, should he hurt himself under their negligence. Most facilities provide day care insurance liability information within the packet you are given when you register your child. Be sure to dig through those mounds of paper and read over that information to understand how to protect little Timmy when he does his monkey-bar stunts at preschool.

This is also the time to talk to your Trusted Choice ® Independent Insurance agent about term life insurance policies for college planning for Timmy’s future if you plan to take out loans. “In the event that something should happen to your child before the loan is paid off, proceeds from a life insurance policy can be used to pay the balance of the loan,” said Kathy Cunningham, assistant vice president, Life Marketing at Grange Insurance. Premiums are usually lower when children are young, as they are usually in good health at this age.

Kool Kids (school age and preteens)
As a regular soccer-mom/dad, you have given your share of rides to Little Timmy’s teammates, but use caution! Transporting other peoples’ little ones to events can be tricky. From a legal standpoint, always be sure to have contacted the other child’s parents and get their permission to have their children in your possession. As far as insurance goes, most policies would cover bodily harm to passengers in your vehicle in the event of an accident; however, it is EXTREMELY important to understand YOUR personal auto policy coverage, in order to ensure safety for every person that rides in your vehicle, big and small.

Teenage Dreamers (teenagers)
For some reason, your state believes that Little Timmy should be allowed to operate a vehicle and breathe at the same time. Before you pass out from pure shock, call your Trusted Choice ® Independent Insurance agent to talk about auto policy additions and coverage. Remind Timmy to study hard also- some insurance agencies offer a discount on the premium as a reward for young drivers with good grades.
Be sure that you and Timmy both remember to be a bit more cautious while driving in the neighborhood this time of year. With school in session, there is a change in traffic, which means more buses and children crossing the street in the morning and afternoon. And not that you need the reminder, but tell Timmy NO TEXTING WHILE DRIVING!

Growing Graduate (college-age children)
He no longer wants to be called Timmy, just Tim, and you’re in dire straits- from him leaving and the tuition bill you just paid! Eliminate extra stress by calling your Trusted Choice ® Independent Insurance agent to go over you homeowner’s insurance policy to make sure Tim is covered while away on campus. Most policies cover Tim as he is considered a resident of your home, but ask questions and be specific in what is covered- laptops, personal belongings etc… This is also a good time to talk about the auto policy, and update all of your information. Also look into Renter’s insurance, in the event that Tim gets an off-campus apartment or goes away for a long summer vacation.

Beyond warning him to wash his clothes more than twice a year, and to avoid eating pizza EVERYDAY, talk to him about being careful with his credit cards and personal information to avoid identity theft issues. After this, all you can do is cross your fingers, watch Tim drive away, and thank your Trusted Choice ® Independent Insurance agent for guiding you along the way.

Insuring Your Student’s Home Away from Home

09/05/2013 | No Comments

How to protect your student’s possessions at School by Trusted Choice
When students go off to college they usually take their computers, TVs, stereo equipment, most of their wardrobe, and anything else that they can cram into the car. Whether they’re taking all their worldly possessions or just enough to get by, they’ll need insurance to cover the things in their dorm room or apartment. So before they take off for college, make sure they’re covered by your homeowner’s insurance or a separate renter’s policy.

Students living in dorm rooms are typically covered by their parents’ homeowners policy if they are temporarily living at school and are younger than 24 years old. However possessions in a dorm room are considered “personal property located off premises” and most homeowners polices limit coverage to 10 percent of off-premises property. For example, if you have $80,000 in coverage for your home, your student’s dorm room is covered up to $8,000. If your student is taking a lot of pricey electronics and other valuable items to school, he or she may want to take out a separate renter’s insurance or property policy if the value of their belongings exceeds the coverage offered through the homeowner’s policy.

Renter’s insurance is a must if a student is living in an off-campus apartment. Most insurance companies consider students’ apartments permanent residences, which means a parent’s homeowners policy doesn’t apply. A landlord’s insurance also doesn’t cover a renter’s personal property. Renter’s insurance usually costs less than $250 a year for about $15,000 in coverage and covers the possessions in the unit in the event of a loss. It also protects the individual from liability if he or she causes damage to the rental unit.

Whether a student is living in a dorm or an apartment, it’s important to remind them to take precautions to keep their belongings safe. Encourage them to lock their doors if they leave their dorm or apartment. It takes a thief less than a minute to steal a laptop, purse, or other valuables from a room. Students also need to pay attention to their property if they host parties or have numerous guests.

If you have questions about your student’s insurance needs or you want to review your homeowner’s policy, your Trusted Choice® independent agent can help make sure your student has the right coverage for their home away from home.

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