Faltering Phones

People often curse their smart phones for not doing what they want, but what about when they do what you never intended? Many who rent cars have found out the hard way what the consequences of this can be.

Many of today’s rental cars offer hands-free calling, streaming music and access to the Internet. Unfortunately, connecting to these features/services with your own phone means your personal info can be harvested by systems and people you never authorized. You might think this merely opens you up to more spam, but in many respects, it’s like connecting to public Wi-Fi. The risks may be much greater and could include identity theft, stalking or worse.

A word to the wise – think twice before connecting your device.

When Bigger Is Better

In many instances teen car buyers choose cheaper cars, which usually means smaller vehicles. The same is true for parents who buy cars for their kids. But according to IIHS (the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) teens should drive older SUVs for increased safety. The added size and weight of a larger SUV affords greater protection than a smaller car. Older SUVs often include safety features such as electronic stability control too.

The IIHS publishes a list of recommended vehicles for teen drivers, which it updates annually. Obviously, purchase decisions aren’t based solely on safety, but it should definitely be a priority. To read more and view the list, go to: https://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/teenagers/qanda#teenagers–general.

Wedding Insurance

Wedding season will be here sooner than you think so now is the time couples should be planning for their big day. Planning can get quite hectic and things sometimes get overlooked. One important consideration that’s often forgotten is wedding insurance. Even when couples do consider it, they often don’t always understand what it is or how it works.

To some, wedding insurance means taking out a policy in the event their wedding is canceled due to issues with a vendor or some other unforeseen problem. But it can be much more than that. For example, what happens if a guest gets drunk at your reception and is involved in an accident later? What if a fight breaks out and people are injured or damage is done to the event hall? Some people assume their homeowners policy will cover these kinds of things. But as with all insurance, your coverage is subject to the limits of your policy, which may be inadequate.

To help ensure your special day stays special, give us a call. We’ll help review your current insurance and suggest adjustments if necessary. We can even help you choose additional coverage just for the event.

Spring Ahead!

March 10th is the day when daylight savings time begins in 2019.  This means clocks should be moved ahead one hour.  The change occurs at 2:00 am, so be sure to set your clocks before you go to bed on Saturday evening.

Rental Risk

The next time you rent a car, you should seriously consider purchasing the collision damage waiver. You might think the cost is prohibitive, but the risks of not purchasing the waiver are likely greater than you think.

Assume for a moment that you’ve rented a car and you’re then involved in an accident while driving that car. You may be liable for the damage done to that car. Most people realize this. But what many don’t realize is that you may also be liable for the rental company’s “loss of use”. In other words, while the rental car is being repaired, it is unavailable for rent. Which means the rental company loses the revenue that car would typically generate. If the repair time is longer than expected, this could add up to a huge out of pocket expense for you.

So, the next time you’re renting a vehicle, think carefully about what you’re willing to risk financially. Purchasing the collision damage waiver could end up saving you a lot of money in the long run.

Killer Phones

Researchers are trying to understand why traffic related deaths have surged nearly 15% in the past two years. Speed, driving distance and drinking have all increased in recent years, but none of these factors explains the spike in deaths.

Although NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) data doesn’t show it, the cause is fairly obvious – distracted driving. From 2014 to 2016, smart phone use increased by about 80%. How phones are used has also changed. People are talking less and using apps more – up to 80% more. Texting, posting on social media and interacting with other apps all require significantly more attention – attention that should be focused on driving, not on a phone.

The substantial uptick in fatalities has largely involved bicyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians – all of which are easier to overlook as a result of distracted driving.

So when you get behind the wheel, put your phone down or, at the very least, use it in hands-free mode. It can help save a life – possibly yours.

When Teens Crash

According to a recent study, teens are more likely to be involved in a crash or near miss after they get their license than before. It sounds counter intuitive, but the data shows that in the first 3 months after getting their license, teens are 8 times more likely to be in a crash or near miss as compared to the previous 3 months on their learner’s permit.

The study, published in the “Journal of Adolescent Health,” indicates that, after obtaining their license, teens are 4 times more likely to engage in risky behavior, including rapid acceleration, sudden braking, hard turns and more. For parents of teens, the study suggests that a continuation of adult supervision may be appropriate – at least for the first few months a teen has their license.

Knowing all of this, you may want to keep closer tabs on your teen’s driving. Of course, you run the risk of irritating them if you’re too attentive. Considering the risks though, that’s a small price to pay.

Water, Water, Everywhere!

Even the smallest drips/leaks can add up quickly and cause substantial, costly damage. So be proactive when it comes to water damage. Start with these steps …

Install a water shut-of device
This is the surest, easiest way to prevent wide-spread damage in the event of a leak.

• Turn off the water when traveling
This is the only way to prevent a leak from occurring while away.

• Arrange for property checks while way
Ask family, friends, neighbors or a caretaker to check your property for leaks and other issues when you travel. Even if they don’t find a problem immediately, it’s still better than finding it when you return.

Check/install pipe insulation

Pipe insulation can be a life saver when temps drop. It’s simple, cheap and one of the best ways to help prevent burst pipes.

The Problem With Smoke Detectors

It’s common knowledge that batteries need to be changed in smoke detectors. A good rule of thumb is to check/change them in the spring and fall – when clocks are adjusted for daylight savings time. But what if your smoke detectors are hard-wired?

You may not know it, but smoke detectors have a limited life span. Eventually, the sensors wear out and they lose their ability to detect smoke. For this reason, fire safety experts suggest completely replacing smoke detectors every 10 years. This goes for battery and hard-wired models.

After 10 years, it may be difficult to remember that this change should take place, so be sure to create some kind of reminder for yourself that won’t get lost or fail to alert you. Setting a reminder on your phone or with an online calendar is a good idea. Multiple reminders are also recommended – in case one fails.

Umbrellas: Handy & Affordable

You have auto and homeowners’ policies, so why would you need more liability insurance?
Th
ree reasons:

1 Higher coverage limits
2 Relatively cheap
3 Additional protection

Many people don’t realize it, but depending on the situation, their primary insurance policies may not provide enough protection. Typically, policies provide coverage limits of $300,000 to $500,00. This sounds like a lot, but in the case of a serious accident, these amounts could easily be exceeded. With a personal umbrella policy though, your coverage limits are extended from $1 million to $10 million.

“But why can’t I just pay to increase the limits on my primary policy? Isn’t this cheaper than buying an additional policy?” It’s a good question and the answer is, umbrella policy coverage limits are downright cheap when compared to your primary policy – especially when you consider that the additional coverage limits provided by an umbrella policy protect you whether the claim involves your auto or home.

Finally, one of the best reasons for adding an umbrella policy to your protection portfolio is that it provides additional coverage such as protection against “personal injury” claims which are generally not covered by primary policies..

Bottom line – serious situations can be expensive, but there is an affordable option that can provide added protection, should one arise. Call us today for details. We’ll show you how easy and affordable an umbrella policy can be.