Uninsured Motorist Coverage – Too Risky Not to Have

There are many responsibilities when driving.  Alot of people take these seriously.  They obey the traffic rules by driving the speed limit and following signs and lights. They purchase insurance as required by law. And, there are those that do not do any of these things. This means the responsible drivers must protect themselves from the ones that aren’t.

Everyone needs to seriously consider purchasing bodily injury liability and uninsured motorist coverage in Florida even though it is optional. But the Insurance Research Council  estimates that 24 percent of Florida drivers are uninsured. That is a scary figure. What is scarier is that there is no way to know how many people buy only the minimal coverage that is required by law. That means they have $10,000 in personl injury protection (PIP, also known as no-fault insurance) and $10,000 in property damage liability. The  PIP system is run amok with fraud. And, you also know that if someone is severely injured in a car crash, it does not take long to surpass $10,000 in medical bills. If the guy or gal that hits you has no insurance, those medical bills are all yours – – unless you buy uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. This also covers you if the at-fault driver is an underinsured motorist (UIM), an equally likely scenario is this dismal economy, or a hit-and-run driver, which is also not farfetched.

Simply, UM/UIM coverage makes your insurance company responsible for the damages that would otherwise have been the responsibility of the at-fault driver. Get out your auto insurance policy now, before you drive another block. In it you will find some BIG TYPE that tells you that this is VALUABLE COVERAGE that PROTECTS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY. Insurance regulators require by statute that insurers put this wording in BIG TYPE in your policy for good reason. It’s for your protection. You can reject this coverage but should know that there are better than one-in-five odds that the Florida driver who hits you is not insured. Why take that chance on those kind of odds?

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Florida Roads Dangerous When Wet – Precautions and Tips to Follow

If you have lived in Florida any length of time, you know about those sudden afternoon showers.  The days can be very hot. The roads had been polished and smooth by the oil spots on the road. The rain blends with the oil and rubber-dust deposits and it becomes a recipe for disaster. The intersections can be very dangerous spots where cars stop and start frequently. It takes a while for these areas to be saturated and be washed off the road.

Before you get on the road, here are some precautions to follow in addition to regular auto maintenance:

  1. Check tire tread as well as tire pressure.
  2. Wipers should be replaced at least once a year.
  3. Every car should have a good emergency kit.

While driving in rain, here are some helpful tips to avoid dangerous situations:

  1. Turn on headlights even if not raining heavy. Daytime running lights are also helpful.
  2. Adjust your speed to the wet roads. Don’t expect to go the same speed on roads that you would normally travel.  If it is raining don’t rush and allow for longer driving time if you need to be somewhere.
  3. Defog windows when needed.
  4. Stay toward middle lanes due to water pools in the outside lanes. If the water is deeper than the bottom of the door, find another route.
  5. When driving through water, drive slowly and break softly. After the puddle slowly tap breaks to help dry off pads.
  6. Drive in the tracks of the vehicles in front of you however do not follow too closely to trucks and buses that may spray more water in your line of vision.
  7. If unable to see the road or what is in front of you, you should pull over and wait for the rain to subside.

What to do if car starts to hydroplane or skid:

  1. If hydroplaning don’t brake suddenly or turn the wheel. This can cause you to go into a skid. Let off the gas slowly and try to steer straight. If braking is necessary, pump the brakes lightly (unless you have anti-lock brakes you can brake normally). Wait until you can feel the wheel on the road again.
  2. If you do start to go into a spin, don’t’ panic, take foot off gas slowly and steer the car in the direction you want to go. You may have to turn the wheel several times to keep the vehicle in a straight line. If you don’t have anti-lock brakes, avoid braking. If you do have anti-lock brakes, break firmly as you steer into the spin.

In heavy rains the best way to remain safe of the roads is to avoid driving during the worst of the downpour. However, if driving is necessary, please use good judgment and the precautions and tips above to stay safe on the roads.

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PREVENTING MOLD DAMAGE

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New York City Health Department, homeowners can minimize the risk of mold by keeping these tips in mind.

  • Fix all water leaks
  • Decrease mold growth by lowering the humidity within your house.
  • Within 24 – 48 hours of contact with water, clean and dry any damp furnishings.
  • Clean all hard surfaces with bleach and water solution and or detergent. Dry surfaces completely.
  • Add fiber glass insulation on all cold surfaces (i.e. pipes, roof, walls, and flooring) in order to prevent condensation or constant moisture.
  • Carpeting and or laminate flooring should not be installed in areas of your home which have perpetual moisture or condensation problems.
  • When remodeling your home or constructing a new home, seek building products that help minimize the potential for condensation / moisture and mold growth with products such as MemBrain, a smart vapor retarder placed inside wall cavities.
Please note that this section highlights examples of safety precautions that you can consider to help prepare yourself, others and your personal property for a disaster. Please recognize that a particular precaution may not be appropriate or effective in every circumstance. We encourage you to use your own good judgment about what is appropriate.
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Driver’s Excuses For Using Cellphone When Driving.

 Many states have adopted laws that prevent cellphone use while operating a vehicle. It is a distraction that has caused many insurance claims and unfortunately lives. While it is not a law currently in Florida, it is highly discouraged by law enforcement officers.

Check out the list below and see if you have used any of these excuses or if there are other ones that you use.

Here are the top 10 excuses the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia compiled of local drivers who were caught using handheld phone devices while driving:

1. This is a bogus law.

2. It was my boss on the phone – I had to answer it.

3. I wasn’t using it – I just like to hold it.

4. Sorry officer, I didn’t see you trying to pull me over because I was on my phone.

5. But it was an emergency call to my wedding planner.

6. My Bluetooth died.

7. Driver: I’m using my speakerphone. Police officer: No, you’re holding your phone in one hand and steering with the other.

8. I’m not driving; I was stopped at a red light.

9. I wasn’t talking, I was checking my messages.

10. I was just checking the time.

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Motorcycle Safety

 

 

 

 

To stay safe, you need complete command of your machine and the best safety gear you can get. We also have some helpful tips to keep in mind as you’re heading for the highway.

Be Prepared and Protected

New Gear? Update Your Policy

Your  motorcycle may have some coverage for custom parts and equipment—however you have to make sure each piece of equipment is listed on your policy. Any time you buy safety equipment or customize your bike, update your insurance policy before you head out on the highway.

Training saves

One out of four motorcycle drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2006 were driving with invalid licenses.* Most carriers offer discounts to riders who attend the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s safe riding courses or are active in one of 10 approved groups that promote safe riding. Do both those things and you can reduce your premium by up to 10 percent.

No one’s too old to wear a helmet

A motorcycle rider not wearing a helmet is forty percent more likely to sustain a fatal head injury in a crash than a rider without a helmet.* A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study reports that “helmets saved 1,658 motorcyclists’ lives in 2006, and that 752 more could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.”* Buy a full-face helmet for the best protection for your head and eyes. Wear other protective gear as well: heavy leather or synthetic gloves, long pants and jacket, and over-the-ankle leather boots.

In a crash, the SUV wins

When cars and motorcycles collide, it’s usually because the driver of the car failed to see the cyclist. With more SUVs on the road, it’s even more critical to take extra steps to become more visible. Use your headlamps—both night and day—and wear yellow, red or orange jackets to make yourself easy to see. Make a point of positioning yourself in your lane for visibility.

Ride sober

Driving impaired is more deadly for cyclers than other drivers. In fact, more than half of all motorcycle deaths occur when the rider has been drinking.*

* Source: NHTSA’s 2008 Traffic Safety report on Motorcycles.

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Pet Injury Coverage

With Progressive’s  Pet Injury coverage, your auto, boat, RV and now commercial policies protect your dogs or cats too.

What is Pet Injury Coverage?

Pet Injury coverage comes complimentary with Collision coverage, and if your customers’ dog or cat is injured in an accident while riding with them, Progressive will pay up to $1000 to help with veterinary bills and medicine.
Currently, Pet Injury coverage is not available in North Carolina and New Hampshire.

When Can Pet Injury Coverage Be Used?

Pet Injury coverage can be used whenever a pet is injured during a claim covered by Collision or Comprehensive coverage. This coverage is available for pets riding in the car and owned by your customer or his/her relatives.

Pet Injury coverage is built into Collision coverage – there’s no added cost if the customer chooses to use it or not use it. Collision coverage must be included on at least one covered vehicle on the policy to receive Pet Injury coverage.

 

Coverage Highlights

  • Coverage is limited to dogs and cats owned by the named insured and resident relatives.
  • Only covers injuries sustained in a “collision” or “comprehensive” claim.
  • The pet must be inside the vehicle when injured to be covered (includes pickup truck beds).
  • $1000 is the most Progressive will pay in a collision or comp claim regardless of number of pets injured or that die.
  • Pays up to $1000 for veterinary bills if a pet is injured in a coll/comp claim.
  • Pays $1000 if the pet dies as a result of the coll/comp claim. The insured does not need to replace the animal to get paid.
  • In cases of theft, we will cover a stolen pet for the $1000 death benefit only if there is a total theft of the car while the pet is in it.
  • The customer will need to provide proof of payment to be reimbursed for vet bills.
  • There is no coverage if there is not Collision coverage on at least one vehicle listed on the policy. If Collision coverage is purchased on any one vehicle, Pet Injury coverage is provided whether the pet is in the vehicle with collision coverage or one of the other vehicles that may not have collision on the policy, or in a “non-owned” car as defined in the policy. Furthermore, there is coverage if the pet is injured, dies or is stolen as a result of an event that fits the definitions of Comprehensive (even if Comp coverage has not been purchased).
  • If the loss is excluded for the vehicle under Part IV of the policy, coverage for Pet Injury is also excluded.
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Protect Your Investment – Home Maintenance

Protecting Your Investment

If you know where every nickel of your new home’s down payment came from, shouldn’t you also know where every penny will go? Buying a home will probably be the biggest investment of your lifetime. And that’s why before you sign on the dotted line, you should give the house a thorough inspection. When inspecting a house, especially an older residence, you must try to determine the extent of deterioration, how much work you can personally handle, how much it will cost to have a professional do the work, and what problems you can live with. Most of all, safety should be your major concern.

The insurance companies  shars your concern for a safer house. Our engineering department has assembled a checklist of some items the home buyer should look for when inspecting a house. Some points are major and may require consultation with a licensed professional. Others can be taken care of by a person handy with a hammer and nail.  Please take a few moments to review the following inspection and maintenance tips:

 

 

Water damage/Plumbing

  • Know where your main water shut-off valve is located and know how to turn the water off.
  • Inspect all exposed pipes for leaks.
  • Inspect ceilings and walls for water spots, peeling paint, and loose ceiling tiles for hidden leaks.
  • Check all faucets for leaks or corrosion.
  • If exposed pipes in the basement exist, make sure warm air is circulated throughout. An insulating wrap is a good alternative to treat exposed pipes in unheated areas.
  • Bleed all pipes of air.
  • Shut off and drain outside water lines before winter in locations subject to freezing.
  • Inspect the rubber connecting hoses for dishwashers and washing machines. Replace every 3-5 years or sooner if evidence of rot appears.
  • Equip your showers, sinks, and tubs with drain screens to catch the debris, hair, and bits of soap that can cause clogs and back-ups.
  • Never flush items like diapers, Q-tips, sanitary napkins, or tampons down a toilet.

 

Roof

  • Have the roof inspected for damage such as lifting of shingles, missing shingles, holes, or wear. Be careful if you need to use a ladder or climb on the roof.
  • Flat or hot asphalt roofs should be resealed every three years and professionally checked every ten years.
  • Inspect around all roof penetrations (such as flashing and chimneys).
  • Inspect and clean all gutters and down spouts.
  • Repair damaged gutters and down spouts.
  • Have excessive snow or ice build-up removed.

 

Electrical

  • Inspect exposed wiring for wear or damage. Be careful not to touch wiring.
  • Inspect the fuse or circuit breaker box for excessive wear or damage. Look for tripped breakers.
  • Label with a pen or permanent marker each circuit breaker, noting which location it serves. If you have fuses, also note the amperage.
  • Make sure appropriate fuses are being used and all sockets are filled. Do not use pennies or foil to fill the sockets.
  • Eliminate all situations where more than one electrical unit is plugged into a single outlet.
  • Check electrical units for overheating.
  • Major appliances should be plugged into appropriate outlets.
  • Do not place floor coverings (e.g., carpeting) over electrical cords.

 

Heating

  • It’s tempting to use supplemental heating devices (such as electrical or kerosene heaters) during the winter. If they must be used, keep them away from flammable materials and surfaces that can ignite from prolonged dry heat. Do not store additional fuel in the same room.
  • Have furnace/air conditioners professionally cleaned and serviced annually (including the filter).
  • Inspect underground fuel tanks.
  • Hire a certified chimney sweep to inspect and clean creosote build-up in chimney.

 

General security

  • All exterior doors should have deadbolt locks.
  • Do not leave personal property (such as lawnmowers, bikes or grills) unsecured outdoors.
  • A heat and smoke detector should be on every floor. It’s recommended that detectors be powered by an electrical source with a battery back up.
  • Check heat and smoke detector batteries every 3 months. Test heat and smoke detectors when checking the battery.
  • A fire extinguisher should be located in the kitchen and near the furnace. Household members should be taught to use a fire extinguisher.
  • Motion sensitive outdoor lighting is suggested for added safety and security. If it’s affordable, central station burglar and fire alarms are another security alternative.
  • Neighborhood watch groups are also suggested.
  • Do not hide a spare key outside your premises.

 

Liability

  • Keep walkways, stairs and sidewalk free of obstacles.
  • Shovel snow as soon as possible and use salt/sand substances to reduce ice formation.
  • Keep stairs, porches, stoops and their rails in good repair.
  • Maintain and use outdoor lighting.

If you own a dog, you should enroll it in Canine Good Citizenship classes offered by the American Kennel Club. The dog does not have to be a pedigree to attend.

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Insuring Your Home to Value

Market Value vs. Reconstruction Cost
Because the cost to rebuild is often much higher than what you paid for your home, we do not rely on market value to determine what level of coverage you need. There are many variables that affect reconstruction cost as well as market value, so the only way to ensure your home is protected is to provide accurate, up-to-date information to your agent. Market value is affected by the local housing market in your area, housing shortages, the number of new homes being built near you, and your location. Market values fluctuate constantly and are not a reliable source for replacement costs. For example, the average home sales price increased by 73.76% in Phoenixville, PA, while the average home sales price in Waldport, OR decreased by 35.4% during the same period.

Reconstruction cost is independent of market value, and is affected by things like the expense and availability of labor and materials, fuel costs, special characteristics within the home and even how easy it is to access the house site. Because of these factors, the reconstruction cost of your home may be much higher or lower than the current
market value.
The Reconstruction Valuation Process
When you buy your policy through your independent agent, he or she will take the time to collect information about your home’s characteristics, including any custom or vintage features, total living space, building materials and other important details that helps us understand what is being insured – and what might need to be rebuilt in the event of a loss. This information is used to calculate the cost to rebuild a home based on its unique characteristics. Your
agent then obtains a quote for your policy premium based on this information.
Reconstruction Appraisals – A Higher Level of Service
Certain homes may fall outside the “normal” valuation models, and in these cases, Insurance Companies contract  with
professional reconstruction appraisers who will come to your property to perform an exterior and, in some cases, an interior reconstruction appraisal. This additional level of service helps ensure that your agent has captured all of the pertinent information we’ll need to provide you with the right level of coverage. These appraisals are a critical part of insuring your home to its reconstruction value, especially when you have unique, custom or unusual home features that may not fall into a standard valuation calculator.
What to Expect
Once you purchase your homeowners policy, most carriers do an exterior inspection. Because this is an exterior inspection, you do not need to be home to meet the appraiser. If your home requires an interior inspection, you’ll be
contacted by phone to schedule a time that is convenient for both you and our appraisal company. You will need to be present for this visit, because the reconstruction appraiser will be examining the interior of your home. The appraiser will spend approximately 90 minutes in your home carefully examining construction features, finishes, square footage and other information that will provide an accurate reconstruction cost estimate.
After the Inspection
Once the Insurance company receives the inspection report, they’ll determine whether the initial coverage estimate is still accurate, or if it needs to be increased or decreased. If changes need to be made, the company will  contact your agent who can then go over the details with you, including how your premium may be affected.

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How to Prevent Kitchen Fires

Cooking – A Watched Pot Never Burns
Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries, with stove fires dominating this problem. Most cooking fires are caused by people’s behavior, not appliance failures. A majority of these fires happen when people leave food cooking unattended on the stovetop. Other common mistakes include leaving burners or ovens on after cooking, leaving combustibles such as potholders too close to heat sources, and wearing loose-fitting sleeves near hot burners.
Older adults are more likely to be injured in cooking fires than adults aged 18 to 64.
Fortunately, you can reduce the risk of cooking fires with these simple precautions.

Stove and Oven Safety
• Keep an eye on all food being heated.
• Wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when cooking and avoid reaching over burners or hot surfaces.
• When using an electric stove, use a burner that is the right size for the pan. Using a burner that is too large can cause the pan and its contents to heat too quickly, which can lead to boil-overs, scorching and burning.
• When using a gas stove, keep the flame entirely under the pan. A flame that surrounds the pan can easily ignite a loose-fitting sleeve.
• Keep potholders, wooden utensils and other combustible items away from hot burners or pilot lights.
• Create a kid-free zone of three feet around the stove, and supervise older children when they cook.
• Keep the stovetop, oven and range hood free of grease and spills that can catch fire.
Grease Fires
Take extra care when frying or deep frying food or when cooking with oils, lard, butter or other grease products.
If a grease fire occurs, remember to:
• Put a lid on the pan.
• Or toss baking soda on the flames.
• Leave the house and call 911 if you can’t put out the fire quickly and safely.
Using a fire extinguisher or water to put out a grease fire in a pan could cause the hot oil to splatter, spreading the
fire instead of extinguishing it.

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Protect Your Home From Lightning and Power Surge

Dollar figures for lightning and surge losses vary widely, but the best figures available estimate at least $2 billion in electrical and electronic equipment damage yearly — making lightning and surge a leading cause of electrical equipment failure.  Surge damage occurs when the normal electrical circuit is suddenly exposed to a large dose of energy. Lightning is the most obvious surge source, but normal utility switching operations or downed power lines
can generate surge too. Inside a building, surge may come from fax machines, copiers, air conditioners, elevators, or motor pumps.  Inside or outside, only lightning strikes within one mile of a structure are likely to damage electronic or electrical equipment. A surge protection device (SPD) is the best way to prevent or reduce damage caused from electrical surges and should be installed strategically outside and throughout the home. SPD’s are designed to redirect high-current surges to the ground and bypass equipment to limit the voltage that is impressed. Two different zones of defense should be used to provide maximum protection:
The first zone is the electric meter, where the utility power comes into the home. A “whole house SPD” can be installed directly into the meter box to reduce externally generated surges, including indirect lightning strikes on the line. Installing a whole house SPD requires the service of a professional electrician, and many local utility departments will install and/or lease units monthly. A whole house SPD rating should be between 20,000 and 40,000 amps. It should use fire proof and explosion proof polycarbonate glass-fiber reinforced enclosure with a matching mounting
connector. 

The second zone of defense is inside the home because a SPD installed at the meter will not protect against internally generated surges. Appliances, such as microwaves, refrigerators, and garage door openers that have a power plug require a surge protection device that plugs into the wall. SPDs for appliances inside the home should not be rated less than 5,000 amps. Further, appliances that use two services, such as a television set with a cable wire and an electrical cord, may require a combination SPD that allows both a cable and a power connection. Computers, answering machines, satellite dish components and VCRs may also require combination protection.  Inside the home, SPD’s should be installed as close to the equipment as possible for maximum protection. Cable lengths should be as short and straight as possible to minimize the resistive path of the circuit to the ground. Also, the surge protectors should be equipped with indicators that show if the circuit is grounded and operating properly.  While nothing can prevent damage from a direct lightning strike, SPD’s can protect your valuable electronics and appliances from the most common source of damage— surge.

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