Monthly Memo

Our monthly newsletter to help ensure the health and safety of our friends and neighbors

Monthly Memo- June: The Claims Process, Dog Bites

The Claims Process (homeowners)

An adjuster will inspect the damage to your home and offer you a certain sum of money for repairs. The first check you get from your insurance company is often an advance against the total settlement amount. It is not the final payment.

If you’re offered an on-the-spot settlement, you can accept the check right away. Later on, if you find other damage, you can “reopen” the claim and file for an additional amount. Most policies require claims to be filed within one year from the date of disaster. Check with your state insurance department.

When both the structure of your home and personal belongings are damaged, you generally receive two separate checks from your insurance company, one for each category of damage. You should also receive a separate check for additional living expenses that you incur while your home is being renovated.

Full article-



Sixty-two percent of U.S. households, or 72.9 million homes, own a pet, according to a 2011 survey from by the American Pet Products Association.

Over the years, many states have passed laws with stiff penalties for owners of dogs that cause serious injuries or deaths. In about one-third of states, owners are “strictly liable” for their dogs’ behavior, while in the rest of the country they are liable only if they knew or should have known their dogs had a propensity to bite (known as the “one free bite” principle).

Dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims paid out in 2012, costing over $489 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and State Farm®. State Farm said that it paid out more than $108 million as a result of its nearly 3,670 dog bite claims in 2012, a slight decrease from the previous year. An analysis of homeowners insurance data by the I.I.I. found that the average cost paid out for dog bite claims was $29,752 in 2012, up 1.2 percent from $29,396 in 2011. From 2003 to 2012 the cost of the average dog bite claim increased by 55.3 percent. The number of claims dropped slightly to 16,459 in 2012 from 16,695 in 2011.


Dog Owners’ Liability: Dog owners are liable for injuries their pets cause if the owner knew the dog had a tendency to cause that kind of injury; if a state statute makes the owner liable, whether or not the owner knew the dog had a tendency to cause that kind of injury; or if the injury was caused by unreasonably carelessness on the part of the owner.

There are three kinds of law that impose liability on owners:

1) A dog-bite statute: where the dog owner is automatically liable for any injury or property damage the dog causes without provocation.

2) The one-bite rule: where the dog owner is responsible for an injury caused by a dog if the owner knew the dog was likely to cause that type of injury—in this case, the victim must prove the owner knew the dog was dangerous.

3) Negligence laws: where the dog owner is liable if the injury occurred because the dog owner was unreasonably careless (negligent) in controlling the dog.

In most states, dog owners aren’t liable to trespassers who are injured by a dog. A dog owner who is legally responsible for an injury to a person or property may be responsible for reimbursing the injured person for medical bills, time off work, pain and suffering and property damage.

More info:

Monthly Memo- May: Poor Service, Not Price Drives Auto Insurance Customers to Shop

Poor Service, Not Price Drives Auto Insurance Customers to Shop

While a poor experience with their insurer is the leading reason customers shop for, and ultimately switch to a new auto insurance company, declining new price satisfaction is the primary reason customers are less satisfied when they do switch insurers, according to the J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Insurance Shopping StudySM released April 2014.

The study finds that 30 percent of auto customers shopped for a new insurance provider in 2013, among whom 36 percent ultimately switched insurers. Increases in premiums do not drive shopping as much as poor experience. Customers who experience a premium increase shop at a rate of 13 percent—less than half the rate of shopping among those who have a poor experience (28%).

Price, however, is still important in the selection process—eight in 10 customers continue to select the lowest-priced insurer—and an increasingly important driver of new-buyer purchase experience satisfaction once customers have selected a new insurer. Overall new-buyer satisfaction with the auto insurance purchase experience averages 821 (on a 1,000-point scale), down significantly from 828 in 2013. The decline in satisfaction is driven by a 17-point drop in the price factor, which has the greatest impact on satisfaction.

“The insurance industry spends billions of dollars each year on advertising, and over the last seven years many of those ads have tried to entice customers with big savings,” said Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power. “While switching to a new insurer usually results in savings, the ads make promises of savings that a growing number of new customers don’t believe they’ve received.”

Erie Insurance ranks highest among auto insurers in providing a satisfying purchase experience for the second consecutive year, with a score of 843. Erie Insurance performs particularly well in all three factors. MetLife and State Farm rank second in a tie at 839, while American Family and Ameriprise rank fourth in a tie at 835.

The 2014 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study is based on responses from more than 16,900 shoppers who requested an auto insurance price quote from at least one competitive insurer in the past 9 months and includes more than 50,000 unique customer evaluations of insurers. The study was fielded in July 2013, October 2013 and January 2014.

Article by Insurance Information Institute-


More people are biking than ever; indeed from 2000 to 2011, the number of bicycle commuters in the U.S. grew by more than 47 percent. We’re celebrating Bike Month with a reminder to ride safely and make sure you and your bicycle are properly covered. More info at #BikeMonth.

Watch our Facebook for posts throughout the month of May on bike safety!


Monthly Memo- February: National Pistachio Day, Home Based Business and more

pistachios Stop by either office on Wednesday February 26 for some pistachios, in honor of NATIONAL PISTACHIO DAY!



A home based business (Pampered Chef, Gold Canyon Candles, Mary Kay, Tastefully Simple, a beauty salon in a spare room, work from home typing, to name just a few) creates exposure from clients/customers entering your premise, your business operation and even the products that you carry/store to conduct your business. If you have one of these types of business, please contact us to review your specific needs. Most standard homeowner policies do not extend adequate coverage for a home based business located in a person’s home whether it be liability or business personal property. The simplest way to address a home business’ liability exposure is through an Incidental Business Endorsement. The IBE covers 50 different types of business’, mostly small offices and service providers for an additional annual premium depending on the type of business. Commercial policies are available for more sophisticated home business’ with expensive equipment, higher liability exposure or employees. 



Per Indiana Codes, 9-25-6-14 and 9-25-8-6, the Indiana BMV is now requiring an SR-22 filing be made anytime an insured’s operator’s license has been suspended, regardless of the underlying violation. Drivers who are caught operating a vehicle without insurance will be suspended for a mandatory 90 days, be required to pay a reinstatement f…ee and be required to maintain a sr22 policy for three years at the end of the 90 day suspension. Preferred insurance companies typically do not allow SR22 policies so you’d have to be placed with a Standard or Nonstandard (high risk) carrier which have higher rates AND pay the SR22 policy fee. ***$$= OUCH*** Don’t let your coverage lapse!


Snowmobile and ORV registration switches from DNR to BMV

Mandatory registration for owners of snowmobiles and other outdoor recreational vehicles switched on Jan. 1 from being handled by the DNR to being handled by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Registration is valid for three years and must be renewed every three years thereafter, for $30. Registration may be done online or in person at a BMV branch.



People use the term identity theft loosely. True identity theft occurs when a thief uses your personal information, such as your Social Security number, home address, checking account number, etc., to commit fraud and open new accounts. Fraudulent charges on a credit or ATM card may mean that someone has stolen your credit card account number to make purchases that you did not approve, but it may not indicate that your identity was stolen. Identity theft occurs when a thief steals your personal information to:

  • Open new credit card accounts
  • Take out loans for new cars or homes
  • Access bank accounts and withdraw funds
  • Rent homes
  • Obtain medical treatment and charge it in your name
  • Use your good name as an alias when committing a crime

These activities can result in a significant financial and emotional cost.

The FTC has many resources for Immediate Steps to Repair Identity Theft, Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes, Repairing Credit After Identity Theft, How To Keep Your Personal Information Secure and more!

December 2013- Monthly Memo- Winter Storm Safety

Here are some tips to help you prepare for winter storms

Before the Winter Storm - Before the winter storm strikes, it’s important to know the weather terminology that may appear across the bottom of your television screen or on the local radio station.
  • Winter Storm Watch: Severe winter weather may affect the surrounding area within the next 36 to 48 hours.
  • Winter Storm Warning: Severe winter weather conditions are on the way or will begin within 24 hours. Take cover and be prepared.
  • Blizzard Warning: Blinding snow and dangerous wind chills are expected for several hours. Sustained winds of 35 mph are expected to sweep the area. A traveler’s advisory is issued if driving conditions are expected to be dangerous or slow moving.

Winterize your car long before the first snowfall hits. Winter weather is unpredictable and may surprise you early in the season. Prepare a disaster kit for your vehicle that includes:

  • Sand
  • Tow chain
  • Jumper cables
  • Screwdrivers, pliers and a knife
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Spare change
  • Blankets/sleeping bags
  • Small can and waterproof matches for melting snow
  • Windshield washer anti-freeze
  • High calorie, non-perishable food items
  • Warm clothes that can be layered
  • Compass and map
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Shovel

Winterize your trees and bushes by trimming long branches. The ice and wet snow that accumulates on branches can cause damage to your home, car or neighbors.
Salt and shovel walkways often.
Drain your pipes if you go on vacation or experience a power outage to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting.
Make certain that each family member has warm winter gear, including a winter coat, gloves, hat or scarf and water-resistant boots.
Keep your gas tank full in the winter months to protect your fuel line from freezing.
Have your cell phone charged.
Stock an ample supply of logs that can be reached easily during a storm if you have a wood burning fireplace.


During the Winter Storm

If a winter storm hits your hometown, follow these safety tips:
Minimize travel. If you have to go out, cover your mouth with a scarf or ski mask to protect your lungs. Cover your head with a hat or scarf to prevent heat loss.
Minimize cold drafts and conserve energy in your house by stuffing cracks around doors and windows with rugs, newspapers or towels.
Stay inside and wear loose fitting, layered and lightweight clothing.
Stay off the roads. But if you have to travel during a winter storm or severe weather, let a family member or friend know your destination, travel route and estimated time of arrival.
Use your headlights when your windshield wipers are running.
Gently lift your wipers off the windshield if they are frozen instead of relying on the wiper motor. This practice will prevent your wipers from freezing to the glass and increase your wiper motor’s life span.
Apply firm consistent pressure to activate ABS brakes. Do not pump ABS brakes in icy weather.
Take frequent breaks when you’re shoveling to help avoid overexertion. If possible, push the snow instead of lifting it.
Assist elderly neighbors and people with special needs. Offer to remove the snow from their driveway, fetch necessities or invite them into your home to wait out the storm.


After the Winter Storm

Once the storm conditions subside, assess your home and property for ice and storm damage. Contact your agent as soon as possible to file a claim.
Other proactive steps to take:
Dry any wet building materials or contents promptly to avoid mold, mildew or further damage. These include materials and items such as carpeting, furniture, insulation and drywall.
Document your losses with a camera or video camcorder. This will help speed up the claims process. Compile a list of damaged items.
Hold off on permanent repairs until your adjuster approves your reimbursement.
Keep all receipts related to repairs and temporary housing.
Brush the heavy accumulation of snow off your roof, carefully.
Keep gutters clear, if possible, and shovel snow away from downspouts, basement window wells and stairwells.
Beware of high water runoff and possible sewer problems as the snow melts.
Be sure your street storm sewer is clear of snow, ice and debris to prevent flooding.
Check your sump pump periodically to ensure that it is handling the amount of water from thawing snow. Auxiliary pumps are available at home centers. Wet vacs, fans and humidifiers can also help to keep the area dry if a sump pump fails.


Driving Tips

If you’re stranded in your car during a winter storm, you should:

  • Stay in the car.
  • Tie a piece of bright colored clothing to the antenna.
  • Leave an interior light on when the engine is running so people can see you inside.
  • Move your limbs around to ensure proper blood circulation. This will also help you stay warm.
  • Run the car’s engine 10 minutes out of every hour.
  • Keep one window slightly ajar to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow to prevent carbon monoxide from entering your car.
  • Although you may think snow will help you survive, eating it will only make you colder. Instead, use a match or candle and melt it into a drinking container.

Additional Tips/Resources

Avoiding a Furnace Fiasco
Winter Storm Safety Checklist
Winter Storm Preparedness
Winter Storm Safety for Kids
National Weather Service Winter Weather Safety
Winter Proofing Your Home
Carbon Monoxide Symptoms and info
Winter Storm Safety (video)

November 2013 Monthly Memo: Winter/Home Heating Safety


Is the chill of winter creeping in and around your house? The best defense is making sure your home’s heating system is maintained properly

Follow these tips for extra efficiency and warmth

  • Have a professional inspect your heating system once per year, before winter hits.
  • Replace air filters often, per the manufacturer’s recommendation (the professional who inspects your heating system can tell you what’s best).
  • Seal up air leaks and add insulation around the house.
  • Clean registers and make sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpets or drapes.
  • Bleed trapped air from hot water radiators.

Other safety suggestions

  • Never use a kerosene heater indoors.
  • Never use electric or gas stoves to heat the home. They are not intended for that purpose and can cause fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • If using a wood fireplace, have it inspected annually by a professional chimney sweep.
  • When using a gas fireplace, keep the glowing embers and logs clean; inspect and clean the air circulation passages and fan; and avoid obstructing the vents.

Furnace Maintenance Checklist

  1. Turn off the electricity or gas to the furnace and replace the filter. If you haven’t regularly cleaned or replaced the filter, do it now and check it throughout the heating season. A clean filter will operate more efficiently. If you have a central air conditioning system that operates with the furnace blower, count on replacing the filter more often. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Remove dust from the furnace. Get all the crevices cleaned of dust. Vacuum the base and grills. And be sure to clear obstacles to the vents so air can freely flow.
  3. Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat is ideal for people who are away from home at set times throughout the week. A properly programmed thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs, according to ENERGY STAR.
  4. Check for carbon monoxide leaks. Carbon monoxide can be detected with an inexpensive test badge or battery operated alarm.
  5. Call the pros. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends scheduling a professional inspection each year for your furnace and all fuel-burning home heating systems, including boilers, fireplaces, wood stoves, water heaters, chimneys, flues and vents.

US Fire Administration- Safety Tips for The Home Avoiding a Furnace Fiasco

Let’s Have Fun with Fire Safety- kids booklet

Winter Storm Fire Safety A wide range of natural disasters occurs within the United States every year. Natural disasters can have a devastating effect on you and your home. The U.S. Fire Administration encourages you to use the following safety tips to help protect yourself, your family and your home from the potential threat of fire during or after a winter storm. You can greatly reduce your chances of becoming a fire casualty by being able to identify potential hazards and following the outlined safety tips.Alternative heatBeyond that, some homeowners opt for alternative heating devices, such as space heaters. While these can be comforting and warming, they can also become a fire-hazard. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that space heaters are associated with about 33,300 residential fires every year. If you decide to add alternative heating to your regime, make safety a top priority. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) suggests:

  • Look for products tested by Underwriters Laboratory (UL). Properly tested and rated stoves will have an attached safety label and an installation.
  • Buy models with automatic shut-off features and heat element guards.
  • Maintain a 36-inch clearance between the heater and combustible materials, such as bedding, furniture, wall coverings or other flammable items.
  • Do not leave a heater unattended.
  • Check every electrical cord for fraying and cracking. If one looks worn, replace it before using.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors in several parts of the house.
  • Never run the heater’s cord (or any cord) under rugs or carpeting.



  • Winter residential building fires result in an estimated average of 945 deaths, 3,825 injuries, and $1,708,000,000 in property loss each year.
  • Fires in one- and two-family dwellings account for 67 percent of all winter residential building fires.
  • Cooking is the leading cause of all winter residential building fires.
  • Winter residential building fires occur mainly in the early evening hours, peaking from 5 to 8 p.m.
  • Although at its highest in December, residential building fire incidence is collectively highest in the 3 winter months of January, February, and March.

Source: Winter Residential Building Fires (PDF, 1.0 Mb)


October 2013 Monthly Memo: Fire Prevention Week/Fire Safety


How Fire Safety savvy are you

Fires cause an estimated 3,500 deaths and nearly $4 billion in property damage in the United States annually — much more than hurricanes, tornadoes or floods. Yet many people ignore common fire hazards in the home and don’t prepare themselves or family members for this more common catastrophe. Set aside some time and effort to protect your home from a devastating blaze with these safety tips.

In this fun, animated video, Rover the Home Safety Hound and Freddie Flashlight teach children to stay away from things at home that might cause fire and burns.


This segment from NBC’s TODAY Show may surprise some parents, as it shows how kids can sleep right through the sound of a smoke alarm.

This video done by the NIST shows a VERY DRY Christmas tree on fire in a room. It takes a little over 30 seconds for the room to flashover. Keep your tree watered. Once it ignites (short circuit of a strand of lights, direct flame, etc) it will become a fully developed fire very fast and extend to the rest of the structure very quickly.

Home Fire Prevention and Safety Tips          *         Fire Safety for Children



Fire Resources - a page of links and resources on these topics

  • Smoke Alarms 
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Escape Plans (details/sample plan)
  • Chimney fires
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Halloween Fire Safety
  • Household appliances
  • Cook Up a Safe Place
  • Buffer Home Heaters
  • Holiday Fire Safety
  • Personal Property 

September 2013 Monthly Memo: Life Insurance Awareness Month

    Bibs. Cribs. Teddy bears and knitted blankets. The gifts pile up when you welcome a little one in to the world. But, one very important gift is often forgotten: life insurance.

A little known fact is that life insurance is just as important for children as it is for adults, but for different reasons. For instance, with an infant you don’t need insurance to cover loss of income they earn. But, purchasing life insurance for a child can help guarantee financial security for them and their future family.

Here’s how:

It will guarantee insurability. You never know what tomorrow will bring. In the unfortunate event that your child develops an illness or medical condition, they may become ineligible to purchase life insurance at a reasonable rate. Purchasing life insurance for your child when they are young guarantees the insurability of the individual for life. If your son or daughter does become uninsurable, they will already have and be able to keep the coverage from the policy you purchased.

It can help financially protect your family. We hate to think about losing a child. But the reality is, sometimes it happens. While losing a child doesn’t result in the loss of income, it can cause a financial strain. Funeral, burial and related expenses can run thousands of dollars (during a very emotional time). Purchasing a life insurance policy will help to ease the financial hardship.

It’s the easiest time to do it. The easiest time to buy a life insurance policy is when the child is first born. Unless your son or daughter is born with a medical condition or there are complications at birth, the process of obtaining a life insurance policy is quick and simple for a child.

Also, premiums are at their lowest. Compared to an adult policy, a whole life or universal life insurance policy for a child is an affordable way to provide the same lifetime coverage. Purchasing a whole life or universal life policy while your child is young ensures a more financially secure future.

You have options to choose from You can purchase a life insurance policy when your child is 15 days or older. And, you can choose the product that’s right for your family

  • How life insurance savvy are you? quiz
  • Find out how much life insurance you may need with this easy online calculator
  • Types of term life insurance policies  *  term vs. perm lifeinsurance.  
  • How To Choose The Right Type of Life Insurance
  • There are probably many more than a million reasons why you need disability insurance. And they all lie in one number: the money you’ll make over the course of your career. Curious to know how much you’ll make? Plug a few values into LIFE’s Lifetime Earnings Calculator. The results may surprise you. This calculator is also intended to show you how much money you stand to lose if you become sick or hurt and can’t work.
  • Download this Consumer Guide to life insurance
  • The key to any good relationship is trust and the client/agent relationship is no exception. You need to trust your agent’s knowledge, experience and professional judgment. And above all, you always should feel that the agent is acting in your best interest. The agent also needs to trust you. He or she needs to know that the information you provide is truthful and complete. And ultimately, the agent needs to have faith in your ability to make the right choices for your family. When it comes time to visit with your agent, here’s information that will help ensure a productive meeting.

August 2013 Monthly Memo: Perils, Loss and Misunderstanding

A sailboat’s stolen from your yard. Covered? A motorcycle is damaged in your driveway. Covered? Your home is damaged due to a sewer line break. Covered?

The answers in brief are depends, depends, and depends, based upon specific policies and circumstances. But a recent survey by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners reveals that many homeowners misunderstand what is included in their homeowners policies. For instance, despite extensive media coverage on Hurricane Katrina victims whose claims were denied because they lacked flood insurance, 33% of respondents incorrectly believe flood damages would be covered by a standard homeowners or property and liability policy.

The survey revealed a number of misunderstandings related to common losses:

  • 35% of respondents think damages from earthquakes are covered. Most homeowners policies exclude earthquake-related claims. An endorsement can be purchased for losses that arise from an earthquake event.
  • 34% of survey participants think damages from mold are covered. Moisture damage such as rust, rot, mold and mildew is specifically excluded in most standard homeonwners policies. Mold contamination is only covered on a limited basis, and only if it is the result of a covered peril.
  • 22% of respondents think pets stolen from or injured on their property are covered. This is another “depends” situation; there is no coverage for theft of a pet under most policies, although injuries may be partially covered based upon policy specifics.
  • 31% of people who took the survey think damages from termites or other infestation are covered. Most policies do not cover such claims.

Not sure what your policy covers? Ask your AGENT!