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?
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.

Teen Drivers Take More Risks as They Age

You’d think teen drivers would improve with age, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. According to a recent study, as they age, high schoolers appear to take more risks and are involved in more accidents and near misses – 57% of seniors vs. 34% of sophomores.

As they age, teens naturally feel more confident. Unfortunately, this confidence can lead to taking greater risks behind the wheel. This includes talking on the phone or using apps while driving. Often, parents can unwittingly contribute to this behavior. According to the study, nearly 70% of 15 and 16 year olds said they would lose their driving privileges if they were to get into an accident whereas only 55% of teens 18 and older believe they would experience the same consequence.

Even though they feel more confident, the reality is hyper-connected teen drivers have only a couple of years experience behind the wheel. Given this, it’s important to remind them that phone/app use, and other forms of distracted driving, substantially increase the chances of an accident. So do your part. Take the time to talk with your teen drivers. It could make all the difference.

Home-Sharing Coverage Gaps

The rapid growth of home sharing services such as Airbnb and HomeAway has been a great thing for vacationers and property owners alike. But if you’re listing a property on these services, or if you’re considering doing so, it’s important to know about gaps that may exist in your insurance.

Relying solely on your regular homeowners/renters policy while hosting guests through a home sharing service can be problematic. That’s because participating in home sharing is considered a “commercial” activity that’s not covered by a typical homeowners policy. Even if you have robust insurance, some companies have rescinded or even refused to renew coverage because of the change in property status from residential to commercial.

That’s why it’s important to review local ordinances as well as your existing insurance. Doing so can help ensure you’re not taken by surprise if/when a guest damages your property. If you’re currently sharing your home online or you’re thinking about it, give us a call today. We’ll be glad to sit down
with you and identify any gaps in your coverage and show you the
best way to resolve them.

Frozen Pipes

Now is the best time to protect yourself. Last winter’s bitter cold caught many homeowners by surprise and led to unexpected repair bills and cleanup costs related to burst pipes and the resulting water damage. A crack in a pipe as small as 1/8” can gush water up to 10+ gallons an hour, causing serious damage. To lessen the chances of a burst pipe, here are some steps you can take:

Insulate exposed pipes in crawl spaces and attics, even in climates where freezing is uncommon. The more insulation, the better.

Wrap pipes in appropriate (indoor/outdoor) UL approved heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables. Install/apply as directed.

Use caulk or insulation to seal all cold air leaks near pipes. Even tiny openings can cause a pipe to freeze.

Disconnect outdoor hoses and use indoor valves to shut off and drain water from pipes leading outside.

We would be happy to discuss the above suggestions with you. Please call or visit our office today.

Condominium Coverage

Terminology can often make it difficult for condo owners to know what their insurance covers vs. what the association’s master policy covers. Here are some helpful definitions:

All In
This means the insurance policy includes wording that extends the coverage to be all-in. In other words, improvements and betterments to the units are now covered on the
master policy.

All-In Per Condo Documents
The insurance policy refers to the insurance section of the condominium documents to interpret what is covered on the master policy. If you see “all-in per condo documents” it means we have interpreted the master policy condominium document and feel it
will adequately cover all improvements made by unit-owners.

Per The Condo Documents
The insurance policy refers to the insurance section of the by laws to interpret what is covered on the master policy. The policy states it will cover “any of the following types of property contained within a unit regardless of ownership if your Condominium Association Agreement requires you to insure it.”

Original Specifications
This means the master policywill cover “any property included in the unit that was initially installed in accordance with your condominium’s original plans and specifications.” In other words, unit improvements after the original construction would not be covered on the master policy.