Our monthly newsletter to help ensure the health and safety of our friends and neighbors
Our monthly newsletter to help ensure the health and safety of our friends and neighbors
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.
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.
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- http://www.iii.org/insuranceindustryblog/?p=3649
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. http://bikeleague.org/bikemonth
Watch our Facebook for posts throughout the month of May on bike safety! https://www.facebook.com/wilsonsitesinsurance
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!
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:
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
If you’re stranded in your car during a winter storm, you should:
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)
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
Other safety suggestions
Furnace Maintenance Checklist
Source: Winter Residential Building Fires (PDF, 1.0 Mb)
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.
Fire Resources - a page of links and resources on these topics
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.
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
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: