Okay people, it’s now official….Use of a hand-held cellphone while driving becomes a primary offense effective next Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013. This means that the police can, and will, pull anyone over just for holding a cell phone to their ear while driving. We all know it isn’t safe, but many of us still do despite having had a close call or two while holding that ill-designed cell phone to our ear. They were designed to be used with wireless and/or wired headsets, earpieces and speakers. So tonight, untangle those wires, dig up that blue tooth headset and use it! Help make our roads a little safer, and keep that hefty fine money in your pocket…why yes, Maryland increased the fines too!
Is your insurance ready for college? If “back to school” means college for your son or daughter, make sure your home and car insurance is ready. Get our infographic at stateau.to/college_students
As Tropical Storm Andrea threatens the east coast, we would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone of all insurance companies’ binding authority in the event of severe weather:
• After a “severe storm”, “watch” or “warning” is issued by the NOAA National Weather Service, your insurance company will suspend binding authority for all commercial and personal lines property coverages, inland marine coverages, and physical damage coverage on automobiles. This will apply to all new risks and to any increase in values on existing risks.
• No policy or coverage may be written or bound on new business, or coverage values increased when a “severe storm”, “watch” or “warning” has been issued. When the NOAA National Weather Service withdraws the “watch” or “warning,” normal binding authority will be reinstated.
• No endorsements to existing policies may be issued or coverage bound which have the effect of increasing the property limits.
• All Flood Insurance policies have a 30 day waiting period after submission before they become effective. Please keep this in mind with the hurricane season upon us.
NOTE: For the State of Maryland, binding authority suspensions will follow the moratorium protocol established by the Maryland Insurance Administration.
Be safe this winter when on or near frozen creeks, ponds, bays, lakes etc.. Click here to read tips from the Coast Guard on ice safety…
Rossman-Hurt-Hoffman would like to welcome the newest member of our Marketing Team, Amanda Gonzales. Amanda comes to our agency from Eugene, Oregon . Please join us in welcoming her to our organization.
With the summer months upon us, many people are dealing with insect problems inside their home. Some people use total release foggers, aka “bug bombs,” to eliminate these pests. Bug bombs are pesticide sprays that discharge all of their contents at once. The contents are released upward, filling the air with pesticide. Spray droplets remain suspended in the air for a short time before gradually settling onto floors, countertops, and other surfaces in the home.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) advises that many people misuse this product. A 2008 study of pesticide illness reports in 8 states found 466 illnesses related to fogger use in a 5-year time frame. For example, some people set off multiple foggers, often in smaller homes. In one case, this negligent act resulted in the water heater’s pilot light igniting the flammable gas, resulting in a major explosion and the destruction of the home owner’s property.
The California DPR has reported that every year bug bombs explode and catch fire when people ignore simple precautions. There have also been numerous incidents of respiratory, eye, and skin irritation from overexposure to these fumes. The following are some California DPR safety tips for the summer.
-Avoid chemicals whenever possible. Effective use of window and door screens and maintaining a clean home are good precautions against pests. Proper caulking of your home can also help.
-To choose the best control strategy, you should correctly identify the pest. Always read labels before using the pesticide, and follow all instructions closely.
-Use no more pesticide than necessary. You should read and follow directions for the recommended number of fogger aerosol cans to use. Generally, you should use no more than one 6 or 8 ounce fogger for apartments or small residences.
-When using bug bombs, you should turn off ignition sources, such as gas pilot lights and electrical appliances. Appliances like refrigerators and air conditioners may produce a spark when they cycle on and off.
-Hire a professional exterminator for major bug infestations.
Regardless of location, spring storms can cause damage to your home, lawn, cars, and other items that are exposed to the elements. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help you prepare for spring storms and the damage they may cause.
Pay Attention to Surrounding Trees: If a spring storm comes through with high winds, trees that are close to the house, cars, or other buildings can cause serious damage. To prepare for spring storms and decrease the amount of potential damage, it can be helpful to cut down trees close to the house and other buildings.
Have an Emergency Plan: In the case of a severe spring storm, it can be vital to come up with an emergency plan that can help keep all family members safe and on the same page. In addition to having a well thought out emergency plan, it can be imperative that you include emergencies supplies in the plan.
Have Good Personal Insurance: The fact of the matter is, if a strong spring storm occurs, damage is often the result. However, there’s a way to ensure that you don’t end up losing money, valuables and time. Personal insurance is an excellent way to make sure that you’re completely covered. In most cases, personal insurance is a term used to describe a variety of insurance types including homeowner’s insurance, auto insurance, and life insurance. When it comes to preparing for spring storms, homeowner’s insurance plans offer coverage on items including:
-Buildings on your property -Your Home -Personal items such as furniture, clothes, appliances and other household items -Certain living expenses -Legal liabilities
While you can take steps to reduce the amount of damage possible, you can’t take the risk out of spring storms. In order to ensure that your valuables are protected, it’s extremely important to have your insurance paperwork up to date; having a well thought out insurance plan can be the best way to set yourself up for financial security and stability.
The Self Storage Association, or SSA, reports an estimated 10 percent of Americans rent a storage unit, contributing to an industry that brings in $20 billion a year in revenue, making self storage the fastest growing commercial real estate section in the last 30 years.
With so many people storing personal property, it is important to consider storage insurance. Rental agreements with the average storage unit dictate the tenant as responsible for lost or damaged goods within the unit. A tenant would have to refer to personal insurance coverage first. A limit equal to 10 percent of the personal property within a storage unit is provided, according to the 2011 ISO HO 3. This limit of liability is not always sufficient.
Take for instance a homeowner who downsizes from a 3,500 to a 1,600 square foot home due to financial hardship. The homeowner rents a storage unit for the personal property that does not fit in the smaller home, such as furniture, art, tools, televisions, lawn equipment or appliances. The college-bound children store items in the unit as well.
If the new home has a personal property limit of $60,000 and is insured for $120,000, then the personal property coverage for the items in the storage unit is $6,000. Given the expensive items in the storage unit, this figure could be far too low for adequate insurance coverage.
In order to bridge a gap in coverage, there are 3 options. One option includes increasing the personal property insurance amount in the self storage facility endorsement (HO 06 14), which will increase the storage unit’s limit of liability coverage. Another option is to add the items in the storage unit to a personal inland marine policy, or floater, to allow for more coverage. A third option is to buy extra coverage through the storage facility. This option may be more expensive than a homeowner’s policy and require a deductible of $100 to $500. Storage facilities often charge $.50 to $2 per $100 of property.
With these options for covering potential insurance gaps, calculating the value of stored property is important to determine if and how much extra coverage is needed, taking into account the size of the deductible. Once all the factors have been contemplated, the decision for extra insurance can be made.
-A company’s payroll supervisor logged on to the payroll account and noticed three payments totaling $704,632 had been wired from their account. The supervisor immediately reported the transactions as unauthorized. The bank shut down the account and was able to recover all but $238,781. The FBI and Homeland Security investigated and determined that someone had gained access to the vice president of finance’s username and password via computer programs that had been surreptitiously downloaded onto the vice president’s computer.
-A company’s bank allegedly sent it a letter advising of a new security program. The company then received an email that appeared to be from their bank. The company’s employee opened the email, which allowed a Trojan horse computer virus to get in. It was able to read key strokes from the insured’s computer, thereby enabling the perpetrator to obtain banking and password information and initiate a fraudulent electronic wire transfer from the insured’s account. This ended up causing a loss to the company of $683,000.
-A company’s website was hacked into by an employee of one of its customers who changed her employer’s bank routing code on the web site to her own. When the company paid her empoyer for services rendered, the money went directly into her account instead.
-After he’s fired, a former employee used his supervisor’s password to enter the insured’s unlocked building and used the supervisor’s computer. He initiated transactions using his bank routing code to receive fake reimbursements purportedly made to the company’s customers.
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Choose Travelers for your electronic funds transfer fraud and computer fraud coverages and you’ll have access to risk mitigation articles, security guidelines and discounted McAfee software security. To learn more about this comprehensive program, talk with your independent insurance agent or visit Travelersbond.com
Six good reasons to have a personal umbrella
There is no question that the ownership and use of our autos present us with the greatest personal liability exposure. But our normal daily activities can expose us to the potential of a large liability claim that could threaten our personal assets. One of the best ways to understand the need for a personal umbrella policy (PUP) is to review actual claim examples. Listed below are actual personal liability claims that illustrate the need for higher personal liability limits.
A couple hosted a pool party for their teenage children. They did not provide any alcohol, but it was brought by some of the guests and was available. After leaving the party, one of the guests was severely injured in an auto accident, and the injury was attributed to his consumption of alcohol. This case went to the Wisconsin Supreme Court which decided that anyone who sells or furnishes alcohol to a minor is responsible for the minor’s injuries as well as any injuries caused by the minor. The opinion of the court was that the homeowners should have prevented the consumption of alcohol by minors on their premises. Both the homeowners’ and personal umbrella policies responded to this claim.
The insured hosted a party at his home. Among the guests was a family friend, who was also the insured’s financial advisor. The friend brought his wife, their 2-year-old child and their baby to the party. The insured gave them a jug of spring water to mix formula for the baby. The 2-year-old child also had a drink of the water. Shortly thereafter, both children became ill. The family left the party and took the children to the hospital. The hospital confiscated the water jug which was found to contain arsenic. An old label was found wrapped around the handle with the words “weed killer” printed on it. The insured had mistakenly given the jug, which was similar to the ones containing spring water, to the family. The baby died and the 2 year old survived after being in critical condition several days. The personal umbrella liability limit was paid.
The insured’s 18-year-old son was driving his parents’ car to the store with his 19-year-old girlfriend. He left the roadway and hit a tree. The son told the police that another car cut him off, but there were no witnesses, and the girlfriend had no recollection of the accident. She was hospitalized for over a month with multiple fractures and internal injuries and received extensive physical therapy. The personal umbrella insurer settled with the girlfriend for the policy limit.
An 18-year-old college student was struck by a fraternity paddle during initiation. He sustained facial fractures and blindness in his left eye. The fellow fraternity members and their families were sued. The court awarded $1,300,000.
A 28-year-old engineer dove into a friend’s above-ground swimming pool, struck his head on the bottom and, as a result, became a quadriplegic. He sued both the homeowner and the pool manufacturer. The court found the homeowner to be 60 percent responsible and the pool manufacturer to be 40 percent responsible, and awarded $10,000,000.
A babysitter left a 5-month-old infant unattended in a walker. The infant toppled the walker, struck her head on the floor and suffered brain damage. The parents of the infant sued the teenage babysitter and her parents. The court awarded the parents $11,000,000.
The above losses show the consequences of situations that can quickly exhaust the liability limits of the underlying policies.
For less than the cost of a cup of coffee a day, most folks can purchase a personal umbrella policy with a limit of $1,000,000, possibly $2,000,000 or even $5,000,000.
Jerry Milton, CIC, contributed this resource. The legal profession recognizes him as an expert on insurance coverages. He is also an education consultant for IA&B, working with CISR, CIC and on-demand CE programs.