Is the life insurance you’re getting through your employer enough to take care of your family? And are you paying too much for that coverage? A healthy 50-year-old male could save nearly 80% on premiums in the first year alone by switching from an employer-provided term life insurance policy to an individual one, according to the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), a professional association of fee-only financial planners. Young, healthy employees might also be better off with individual coverage, since they can lock in low rates for decades.
But many companies pay for some amount of life insurance for their workers; they also allow workers to purchase more coverage for themselves and their spouses at a low cost and with no medical exam. As a result, many families obtain all of their life insurance through an employer. If you make $75,000 per year, your employer might provide $75,000 or $150,000 in coverage at little or no out-of-pocket cost to you, and the premiums will come straight out of your paycheck. This way, you’ll never miss the money or worry about paying the bill. And even if you’ve had less-than-perfect health, you’ll qualify for just as much coverage as your co-workers. That all sounds enticing, but there are several potential problems with obtaining life insurance through work.
Problem 1: Your employer may not offer enough life insurance.
While basic employer-provided life insurance is low-cost or free, and you may be able to buy additional coverage at low rates, your policy’s face value still may not be high enough. If your premature death would be a financial burden to your spouse and/or children, you probably need coverage worth five to eight times your annual salary. Some experts even recommend getting coverage worth 10 to 12 times your annual salary.
“Most people are able to buy an additional four to six times their salary in supplemental coverage over and above what’s provided by their employer," says Brian Frederick, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) with Stillwater Financial Partners in Scottsdale, Arizona. “While this amount is sufficient for some people, it isn’t enough for employees that have non-working spouses, a sizable mortgage, large families or special needs dependents.”
Another shortcoming? “Death benefits that replace salary do not take into account bonuses, commissions, second incomes and the value of additional benefits such as medical insurance and retirement contributions,” says Mitchell Barber, a financial services professional at the Center for Wealth Preservation, a Syosset, N.Y.-based agency of MassMutual Financial Group.
Your employer’s group life insurance might be sufficient if you’re single or if you have a spouse who isn’t dependent on your income to cover household expenses and you don’t have children. But if you’re in this situation, you probably don’t need life insurance at all.
Problem 2: You’ll lose your coverage if your job situation changes.
As with health insurance, you don’t want gaps in your life insurance coverage, because you never know when you might need it. Most workers who get coverage through work don’t know where their life insurance will come from if they change jobs, are laid off, their employer goes out of business, or they switch from full-time to part-time status. You usually won’t be able to keep your policy in these scenarios. Lack of portability can be a problem if you aren’t going directly to another job with similar coverage and aren’t healthy enough to qualify for an individual policy. Some policies do allow you to convert your group policy to an individual one, but it will likely become much more expensive, as you’ll be converting your term policy to a costlier permanent policy. And if you’re losing your coverage because you were laid off, the premiums might be unaffordable.
“Since the products that are available for conversion from an employer-provided plan are typically limited to just one insurance carrier’s offerings, a client can generally find a more cost-efficient insurance policy outside of the employer’s plan,” says Thaddeus J. Dziuba III, a life insurance specialist for PRW Wealth Management in Quincy, Mass. “This presupposes that the client can obtain favorable underwriting, however. As a rule of thumb, if a client can no longer get medically underwritten for new insurance coverage but still has a financial need for the death benefit provided by his or her company’s plan, then we often advise conversion regardless of price, since it will be unlikely that they can obtain coverage elsewhere,” he adds.
Problem 3: Coverage gets tricky if your health declines.
Another problem arises if you’re leaving your job because of a health problem. “If you relied solely or heavily upon group insurance, and then suffer a medical condition that forces you to leave your job, you may be losing your life insurance coverage just when your family is going to need it the most,” says Jim Saulnier, a CFP® with Jim Saulnier & Associates in Fort Collins, Colo. “At that point it would be too late to purchase your own policy at an affordable rate, if at all, depending on the medical condition,” he says.
Even if your health problems aren’t significant enough to stop you from working, they might limit your employment options if you only have life insurance through work. “You could end up handcuffed to your job to keep the life insurance if you experienced a serious enough health issue,” says David Rae, a CFP® and vice president of client services for Trilogy Financial Services in Los Angeles.
Also, you don’t control who provides this insurance, and your company could choose a lower-rated insurance company to save money. That could mean the insurance you paid for won’t be there to cover you when you need it. Be sure to check the A.M. Best rating of the life insurance company behind the benefit your employer offers. This rating will tell you whether the company is financially stable enough to pay your policy if the worst happens. Finally, another possibility is that your employer could stop offering life insurance as a benefit to save the company money, leaving you without coverage.
Problem 4: Your plan doesn’t provide enough coverage for your spouse.
While your employer’s benefits package probably provides health insurance for your spouse, it won’t always provide life insurance for your spouse. If it does, the coverage could be minimal — $100,000 is a common amount — and that sum doesn’t go far when you lose your husband or wife unexpectedly.
Couples often assume that the family will only suffer economic hardship if the primary breadwinner dies, says Jim Saulnier, and as a result, many workers fail to adequately insure their spouses. But non-working or lower-earning spouses can see their incomes impacted by their partner’s death. “I often say rhetorically to a client, if your wife dies on Saturday are you going back to work Monday morning? Do you have ample PTO [paid time off] on the books to cover an extended leave?” he says.
What’s more, says Barber, “When one parent is absent, the other must take up the slack with day care or chauffeuring. Hours are cut back. There is never time to properly grieve and, as survivors are often depressed, productivity often falls.”
Problem 5: Employer-provided life insurance may not be your cheapest option.
Even if you can get all the life insurance you need for both you and your spouse through your employer, it’s a good idea to price shop to see if your employer’s supplemental insurance really offers the best value for the money. You’re more likely to find a better rate elsewhere the younger and healthier you are. Also, unlike the guaranteed level-premium term life insurance you can purchase individually, which costs you the same amount every year for as long as you have the policy, the policy provided by your employer tends to get more expensive as you age.
“Employer coverage starts out being very cheap prior to age 35 and then rapidly increases in price,” says Frederick. “Most policies increase every five years and become incredibly expensive once the employee turns 50. If you are healthy and a non-smoker, buying a stand-alone policy might be cheaper than taking coverage through your employer,” he says.
“The reason for this is called moral hazard,” Saulnier says. “Employees who are too unhealthy to qualify for life insurance on their own tend to overload the group insurance because there is no underwriting, and life insurance companies make up for it by charging higher premiums,” he says. Overall, healthy people in group policies pay more than they would if they purchased private policies.
While there’s no reason not to take advantage of any free or inexpensive insurance your employer offers, it probably shouldn’t be your only source of life insurance, nor should most people rely heavily on the supplemental life insurance they can get through work. The solution to each of the problems described above is to purchase some or all of your life insurance directly through an individual term policy. You might need to purchase as much as 80% of your life insurance on your own to have enough and to make sure you’re covered at all times and under all circumstances.
If you don’t qualify medically for life insurance, you can purchase an individual term policy called “guaranteed issue,” which doesn’t require medical underwriting. These policies are typically much smaller and much more expensive than what you’d get under a term policy that you qualified for medically, but as long as you can afford the premiums (and life insurance premiums should be a priority in your budget), having this coverage is better than nothing. And if your health improves (for example, you quit smoking or overcome hypertension), you might be able to qualify for a medically underwritten individual policy and drop the more expensive policy that doesn’t require medical underwriting.
Barber believes that, on the whole, the most affordable solution is to buy the most insurance you can afford at the youngest age, since, as you age, the chance of acquiring an illness goes up, and with illness comes more expensive premiums, if you can qualify at all.
The Bottom Line
You need enough life insurance to cover all your debts and support your dependents. “Enough” includes paying off your credit cards, car loans and mortgage, paying for your children’s education, and making sure your spouse will have the financial means to take care of him or herself and your children. In a time of grief, the last thing you want is to leave your loved ones with another major life upheaval such as having to change jobs or schools because of financial strain, so take a close look at whether the life insurance you’re getting through work is the best way to provide for your loved ones.
Jennifer Smith doesn’t like the term “accident.” It implies too much chance and too little culpability.
A “crash” killed her mother in 2008, she insists, when her car was broadsided by another vehicle while on her way to pick up cat food. The other driver, a 20-year-old college student, ran a red light while talking on his mobile phone, a distraction that he immediately admitted and cited as the catalyst of the fatal event.
“He was remorseful,” Smith, now 43, said. “He never changed his story.”
Yet in federal records, the death isn’t attributed to distraction or mobile-phone use. It’s just another line item on the grim annual toll taken by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration [NHTSA]—one of 37,262 that year. Three months later, Smith quit her job as a realtor and formed Stopdistractions.org, a nonprofit lobbying and support group. Her intent was to make the tragic loss of her mother an anomaly.
To that end, she has been wildly unsuccessful. Nine years later, the problem of death-by-distraction has gotten much worse.
Over the past two years, after decades of declining deaths on the road, U.S. traffic fatalities surged by 14.4 percent. In 2016 alone, more than 100 people died every day in or near vehicles in America, the first time the country has passed that grim toll in a decade. Regulators, meanwhile, still have no good idea why crash-related deaths are spiking: People are driving longer distances but not tremendously so; total miles were up just 2.2 percent last year. Collectively, we seemed to be speeding and drinking a little more, but not much more than usual. Together, experts say these upticks don’t explain the surge in road deaths.
There are however three big clues, and they don’t rest along the highway. One, as you may have guessed, is the substantial increase in smartphone use by U.S. drivers as they drive. From 2014 to 2016, the share of Americans who owned an iPhone, Android phone, or something comparable rose from 75 percent to 81 percent.
The second is the changing way in which Americans use their phones while they drive. These days, we’re pretty much done talking. Texting, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are the order of the day—all activities that require far more attention than simply holding a gadget to your ear or responding to a disembodied voice. By 2015, almost 70 percent of Americans were using their phones to share photos and follow news events via social media. In just two additional years, that figure has jumped to 80 percent.
Finally, the increase in fatalities has been largely among bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians—all of whom are easier to miss from the driver’s seat than, say, a 4,000-pound SUV—especially if you’re glancing up from your phone rather than concentrating on the road. Last year, 5,987 pedestrians were killed by cars in the U.S., almost 1,100 more than in 2014—that’s a 22 percent increase in just two years.
Safety regulators and law enforcement officials certainly understand the danger of taking—or making—a phone call while operating a piece of heavy machinery. They still, however, have no idea just how dangerous it is, because the data just isn’t easily obtained. And as mobile phone traffic continues to shift away from simple voice calls and texts to encrypted social networks, officials increasingly have less of a clue than ever before.
Out of NHTSA’s full 2015 dataset, only 448 deaths were linked to mobile phones—that’s just 1.4 percent of all traffic fatalities. By that measure, drunk driving is 23 times more deadly than using a phone while driving, though studies have shown that both activities behind the wheel constitute (on average) a similar level of impairment. NHTSA has yet to fully crunch its 2016 data, but the agency said deaths tied to distraction actually declined last year.
There are many reasons to believe mobile phones are far deadlier than NHTSA spreadsheets suggest. Some of the biggest indicators are within the data itself. In more than half of 2015 fatal crashes, motorists were simply going straight down the road—no crossing traffic, rainstorms, or blowouts. Meanwhile, drivers involved in accidents increasingly mowed down things smaller than a Honda Accord, such as pedestrians or cyclists, many of whom occupy the side of the road or the sidewalk next to it. Fatalities increased inordinately among motorcyclists (up 6.2 percent in 2016) and pedestrians (up 9 percent).
“Honestly, I think the real number of fatalities tied to cell phones is at least three times the federal figure,” Jennifer Smith said. “We’re all addicted and the scale of this is unheard of.”
In a recent study (PDF), the nonprofit National Safety Council found only about half of fatal crashes tied to known mobile phone use were coded as such in NHTSA databases. In other words, according to the NSC, NHTSA’s figures for distraction-related death are too low.
Perhaps more telling are the findings of Zendrive Inc., a San Francisco startup that analyzes smartphone data to help insurers of commercial fleets assess safety risks. In a study of 3 million people, it found drivers using their mobile phone during 88 percent of trips. The true number is probably even higher because Zendrive didn’t capture instances when phones were mounted in a fixed position—so-called hands-free technology, which is also considered dangerous.
“It’s definitely frightening,” said Jonathan Matus, Zendrive’s co-founder and chief executive officer. “Pretty much everybody is using their phone while driving.”
There are, by now, myriad technological nannies that freeze smartphone activity. Most notably, a recent version of Apple’s iOS operating system can be configured to keep a phone asleep when its owner is driving and to send an automated text response to incoming messages. However, the “Do Not Disturb” function can be overridden by the person trying to get in touch. More critically, safety advocates note that such systems require an opt-in from the same users who have difficulty ignoring their phones in the first place.
In NHTSA’s defense, its tally of mobile phone-related deaths is only as good as the data it gets from individual states, each of which has its own methods for diagnosing and detailing the cause of a crash. Each state, in turn, relies on its various municipalities to compile crash metrics—and they often do things differently, too.
The data from each state is compiled from accident reports filed by local police, most of which don’t prompt officers to consider mobile phone distraction as an underlying cause. Only 11 states use reporting forms that contain a field for police to tick-off mobile-phone distraction, while 27 have a space to note distraction in general as a potential cause of the accident.
The fine print seems to make a difference. Tennessee, for example, has one of the most thorough accident report forms in the country, a document that asks police to evaluate both distractions in general and mobile phones in particular. Of the 448 accidents involving a phone in 2015 as reported by NHTSA, 84 occurred in Tennessee. That means a state with 2 percent of the country’s population accounted for 19 percent of its phone-related driving deaths. As in polling, it really depends on how you ask the question.
Massachusetts State Police Sergeant Christopher Sanchez, a national expert on distracted driving, said many police departments still focus on drinking or drug use when investigating a crash. Also, figuring out whether a mobile phone was in use at the time of a crash is usually is getting trickier every day—proving that it precipitated the event can be even harder to do.
Prosecutors have a similar bias. Currently, it’s illegal for drivers to use a handheld phone at all in 15 states, and texting while driving is specifically barred in 47 states. But getting mobile phone records after a crash typically involves a court order and, and even then, the records may not show much activity beyond a call or text. If police provide solid evidence of speeding, drinking, drugs or some other violation, lawyers won’t bother pursuing distraction as a cause.
“Crash investigators are told to catch up with this technology phenomenon—and it’s hard,” Sanchez said. “Every year new apps are developed that make it even more difficult.” Officers in Arizona and Montana, meanwhile, don’t have to bother, since they allow mobile phone use while you drive. And in Missouri, police only have to monitor drivers under age 21 who pick up their phone while driving.
Like Smith, Emily Stein, 36, lost a parent to the streets. Ever since her father was killed by a distracted driver in 2011, she sometimes finds herself doing unscientific surveys. She’ll sit in front of her home in the suburbs west of Boston and watch how many passing drivers glance down at their phones.
“I tell my local police department: ‘If you come here, sit on my stoop and hand out tickets. You’d generate a lot of revenue,’” she said.
Since forming the Safe Roads Alliance five years ago, Stein talks to the police regularly. “A lot of them say it surpasses drunk driving at this point,” she said. Meanwhile, grieving families and safety advocates such as her are still struggling to pass legislation mandating hands-free-only use of phones while driving—Iowa and Texas just got around to banning texting behind the wheel.
“The argument is always that it’s big government,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association. “The other issue is that … it’s hard to ban something that we all do, and we know that we want to do.”
Safety advocates such as Smith say, lawmakers, investigators, and prosecutors won’t prioritize the danger of mobile phones in vehicles until they are seen as a sizable problem—as big as drinking, say. Yet, it won’t be measured as such until it’s a priority for lawmakers, investigators, and prosecutors.
“That’s the catch-22 here,” Smith said. “We all know what’s going on, but we don’t have a breathalyzer for a phone.”
Perhaps the lawmakers who vote against curbing phone use in cars should watch the heart-wrenching 36-minute documentary filmmaker Werner Herzog made on the subject. Laudably, the piece, From One Second to the Next, was bankrolled by the country’s major cellular companies. “It’s not just an accident,” Herzog said of the fatalities. “It’s a new form of culture coming at us, and it’s coming with great vehemence.”
Adkins has watched smartphone culture overtake much of his work in 10 years at the helm of the GHSA, growing increasingly frustrated with the mounting death toll and what he calls clear underreporting of mobile phone fatalities. But he doesn’t think the numbers will come down until a backlash takes hold, one where it’s viewed as shameful to drive while using a phone. Herzog’s documentary, it appears, has had little effect in its four years on YouTube.com. At this point, Adkins is simply holding out for gains in autonomous driving technology.
Taken from an article published by BLOOMBERG Online - October 17, 2017. Written by Kyle Stock, Lance Lambert & David Ingold.
If you’re one of more than 38 million people working from your home in any capacity, beware: your home insurance may not provide adequate protection for your business, no matter how small. Thanks to the digital revolution, it’s never been more convenient to earn a living from your living space – but with each reward comes risk, and without the right coverage, that extra cash flow can turn from positive to negative.
Unfortunately, too many at-home earners aren’t aware of the gaps in their coverage until they’re presented with a dire situation, be it a hurricane or any other disaster. Their inventory and business property can literally go up in smoke, ruined by a water leak, or be outright stolen. And if they are relying on their homeowner insurance to pick up the pieces, they may be surprised to find they have very little financial recourse.
So what should you look for in a home-based business insurance policy? It can be complicated – which may be why so many people don’t have the insurance they really should. If you operate or conduct any sort of business out of your home, be sure your insurance partner offers some, if not all, of the following coverage options to best protect your interests.
Here are 10 coverage options that every home-based businessperson should opt for:
1) Replacement Cost Coverage for your Home Business Property. Broadly, this covers business personal property and home business property or inventory– such as a burst pipe damaging a wedding photographer’s camera equipment. Replacement Cost Coverage for your Home Business Property also includes personal property owned by others in your care, custody, or control for business purposes. (Think that wedding photographer’s client’s photo album...) This versatile policy is available for most professions.
2) Coverage for Other Structures on your property used for Home Business. For businesses that store their business property in a free standing garage or other structure on their property, special coverage is needed. Direct sellers for multi-level marketing brands often have a supply of expensive jewelry, candles, skin care products, clothing, etc. in their garage. Make sure you’re protected if that structure collapses under heavy snow.
3) Loss of Income and Extra Expense Replacement. As an option to guard against dreaded downtime, this protection covers loss of business income that would have been earned (and related incurred expenses) during an interruption of home business, or when the premises is unfit for occupancy due to a covered loss. Loss of income and extra expense protection can help take the sting out of a terrible time.
4) Business Liability. Business liability insurance can help protect you from a variety of claims, including bodily injury or property damage to others that can arise from your business operations. An at-home dog groomer may have customers coming and going from their home – and a customer may slip on the front porch, resulting in severe injuries. This type of coverage can shelter your assets, keeping them beyond the reach of a legal action.
5) Money and Securities Coverage. This coverage protects insured monies against loss by theft, disappearance, or destruction both on and off-premise. A jewelry crafter may keep the cash from her sales in a small safe in her home office, depositing the money in the bank once a week. If her home is robbed and the safe is stolen – or if her purse is snatched on the way to the bank – she won’t shoulder the financial loss.
6) Valuable Papers and Records Coverage. This coverage is especially useful for graphic designers and other creative professionals, since it provides coverage for the cost to reproduce most printed documents in the event of an accident. If an architect’s blueprints suffer some misfortune inside the home, he may claim money for the time already spent on the project.
7) Property of Others Coverage. Do you handle your clients’ personal belongings regularly? Consider opting for a policy that covers situations where personal property is temporarily in the care or custody of another person or entity. A work-from-home tailor who experiences a grease fire in the kitchen may also experience smoke damage to a client’s clothing. Property of others coverage will benefit both the business owner and the client.
8) Computer and Software Coverage. Tech jobs have seen a widespread exodus from on-site locations to home offices. If you’re a den-dwelling digital nomad, be sure your insurance covers digital hardware and software in the event of damage to your valuables during the course of business. Something as simple as a prospective client spilling a glass of water on your laptop can turn into a business disaster without the right coverage.
9) Professional Liability Coverage for Certain Professionals. You’ll need to speak with your local insurance agent to find out if your profession is eligible, but know that there’s coverage for when a business owner renders a professional service and an accidental mishap occurs. For instance, if an at-home barber accidentally cuts his client’s scalp and the client intends to seek payment for damages, he is covered.
10) Excess Liability Coverage Included in Your Homeowner Policy. Lastly, consider an option that has everything you need for homeowner, business and excess liability coverage, all under one policy. In the event a catastrophic claim comes your way from any one of countless scenarios, excess liability coverage puts a limit on top of your underlying policy.
Home-based business insurance picks up where homeowner insurance leaves off. So whether you’re an evening accountant, social media influencer on the side, full-time day trader, or home-party sales maven, make sure you’re covered. After all, you’re in this to make money – not lose it because you don’t have the right insurance.
Article written by Gary Capone, CPCU, ARM for FORBES MAGAZINE ONLINE ... Gary is Vice President of Field Services, Franklin Mutual Insurance (FMI), where he is responsible for Agency Relations, Marketing, and Loss Control. He has over 36 years experience in his industry, where he began as an insurance agent in 1981. Gary is active with the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of New Jersey, a Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter, and has an Associate Risk Manager designation.
Having convenience in the palm of your hand - 24/7 - is one of the big advantages of today's computer / mobile phone technology. Our companies understand this and are offering some excellent mobile apps to help you navigate your insurance portfolio you have with us.
Advantages of having the mobile app readily available:
- Pay your bills
- Set up and manage automatic payments
- Check the Status of a claim and/or view your claim history
- View your insurance ID Cards
- View your actual policy documents
- Manage document delivery options (you can go paperless)
There are many other advantages that each particular company offers.
The normal download process applies. Download the app from the Android or iOS store for free and begin using it immediately.
Check out these great company apps:
|Auto-Owners Insurance||Progressive Insurance||Travelers Insurance|
|Download any of these from the Android or iOS app store.|
We all want ease of use and having information at our finger tips has become a staple of our lives. I'm glad to see these companies stepping up to make our insurance lives easier with these great apps.
Thanks, as always, for reading the blog. If there is anything we can do for you regarding insurance, we're here and ready to earn your business. Contact our great staff at 615.377.1212 or email us at info@BentonWhite.com.
We get this question alot! For the coverage's afforded and the comfort level it could give to you and your family by spending about $200 per year for the policy, we think it's one of the easier policy decisions that our customers make. And MANY are taking advantage of this affordable - extra layer of protection.
I saw this video this morning that does a good job explaining how a Personal Liability Umbrella can help you protect your hard-earned assets for just pennies on the dollar:
We offer not only the above-mentioned liability umbrella but all of our companies have similar plans at affordable prices that can give you that extra layer of asset protection. Let us help! We can give you a quote while you are on the phone and can write the policy for you within 5 minutes electronically which saves you time and trips to our office to get the policy in force.
Remember, we like to say ... 'if it can be insured, we insure it and we SERVICE IT TOO!" Contact our office at info@BentonWhite.com or phone us at 615.377.1212. We're always ready to earn your business as we celebrate 39 years serving the public with all things insurance - this year!
I got a call Monday morning from a client of many years! He called to tell me that his wife, a dear friend/client of mine for 39 years passed away the previous morning. He said with the deepest of sadness: "Saturday night, we had about 3 hours together and she told me to immediately call you because she knew you would take care of all things insurance for her and me. So I'm calling you first!" He had not even been to the funeral home or had begun making arrangements for his 67-year-old wife of 33 years. We both shared sadness and shock that her journey to the end of life occurred in less than 3 weeks.
When he speaks all things insurance, he was calling to ask me to begin the process of filing a claim on a 20-year term insurance policy on her life that I wrote in 2003. She had paid her premiums faithfully for 14 years. She had very specific beneficiary designations to include not only her husband but her parents, siblings as well as their children. We filed the claim with the insurance company and they are rushing the necessary information to this widowed husband immediately so he & the company can get the life insurance benefit dispersed immediately!
The human side of this work for us as an agency is always a challenge because as you, we care for the people we have the privilege of working with. I have many others who have become friends of this agency over the years. Each event we encounter - similar to this one - continues to validate this agency's very existence.
We've lost a great friend and client to sudden death. We pay tribute to her and to her husband and family who are in our thoughts and prayers!
Many of our customers don't realize that I personally review each policy that renews in my agency annually. I block out several hours to review how a customer's rates have been over time and what they can expect in premium on their next renewal. Sometimes, it's painful to see some of the increases that are caused by an event that involved the customer. There are a number of reasons a rate can change from excessive claim activity to at-fault accidents, traffic citations and many other premium affecting reasons. However, if a customer has taken care of their risks and has little or no negative activity on their account, rates don't often change in any great degree.
I have just finished a large group of customer policy renewals today. Of the several hundred policies I reviewed, it was a joy to see that the average rate change had increased approximately 5% or less and premium decreases that were in the range of 5 to 15% average. Some of our customers' rates dropped 20% or more and others had no change in their rates. In a marketplace where I read of insureds facing major premium increases not to mention the opportunity we have in the agency of welcoming new customers whose rates with their former company escalated over 30%, it's great that we have a cost-effective solution for them. Our portfolio of companies are managing their companies with care and operating extremely stable in the property & casualty market right now.
If you or someone you know isn't happy with their auto, home, apartment, condo or life insurance rates, I can say with strong conviction that we have a good chance of saving them money because our rates are level and inviting.
Let us help you! Simply contact any of our staff at 615.377.1212 or email us at info@BentonWhite.com. I always say .. anyone can sell a policy but making sure that we stay in touch and offer service after the policy is written is the key to creating long-lasting relationships with our customers. That's why I do renewal reviews! In nearly 39 years in this business, I have never written policies and left the customer to just pay premiums! We're here at every turn to EARN the business of our great customers. It's just what we do!
As the spring season gets fully underway, families gear up for spring break car trips or college visits. With better weather, more drivers take day trips or plan weekend getaways. This all adds up to more drivers on the road, and more potential for distracted driving – which also increases the odds of traffic accidents with bodily injuries.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the time of year when the National Safety Council and other organizations join forces to heighten awareness of distracted driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) distracted driving is defined as any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, or fiddling with the sound, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.
NHTSA calls texting “the most alarming distraction” because tests show that sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed, NHTSA explains.
The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) is joining nationwide efforts to promote the importance of distracted driving awareness. One of the most frightening trends, PCI says, is the ubiquitous use of smartphones behind the wheel.
“Distracted driving is thought to be one of the leading causes for the rise in vehicle accidents. Whether it’s making a quick call, firing off a text, or adjusting the navigation system, in that short lapse of focus, all too often drivers can cause or fail to avoid a crash. And our increasingly congested roads compound the problem,” said Bob Passmore, PCI’s assistant vice president, personal lines policy.
The implementation and enforcement of distracted-driving laws, which discourage texting while driving and ban handheld cellphone use, are important first steps, PCI says.
“Auto safety is a top issue for auto insurers. We hope the dialogue on distracted and impaired driving will continue, and we urge lawmakers and other industry thought leaders to continue addressing the impact of motorist behavior as an important part of the safety equation,” added Passmore.
Employers and distracted drivers
Not only is distracted driving dangerous for individuals, the Insurance Information Institute ( I.I.I.) points out, but there is a growing concern among business owners and managers that they may be held liable for accidents caused by their employees while driving and conducting work-related conversations on cellphones. I.I.I. explains that under the doctrine of “vicarious responsibility,” employers may be held legally accountable for the negligent acts of employees committed in the course of employment. Employers may also be found negligent if they fail to put in place a policy for the safe use of cellphones.
Here are the top 7 safety tips from PCI and I.I.I. to help you & your family members avoid distracted driving.
1. Wear your seat belt.
Whether you’re taking a weekend get-away or just running errands around town, PCI encourages you to buckle up, drive safely and try to be prepared for those who may not. All passengers should be buckled up, even in the back seat.
Seat belts save lives and help prevent injuries. Also, make sure children are in the proper car or booster seats.
2. Plan ahead and allow extra travel time.
With more people on the roads, often driving in unfamiliar territory, the potential for a traffic crash increases. PCI encourages motorists to plan their routes in advance when traveling to new destinations, be patient, and allow for extra travel time.
Some auto accident reconstruction experts suggest that blindly following GPS systems has caused increases in accidents. If you’re going to use an electronic navigation system, check the directions before you start driving to be sure you understand where the system is taking you and where the turns are.
3. Observe speed limits, including lower speeds in work zones.
Stay focused on the road and be aware of changing traffic patterns caused by construction.
Be cautious of the construction workers themselves, who are often in close proximity to the highway—and at great risk.
Many states have increased fines in work zones, yet another reason to be more cautious.
Also, be aware that construction on major highways often takes place at night, when there is less traffic, but reduced visibility.
4. Avoid distracted driving.
When the entire family is traveling in the car, the opportunity for distraction is multiplied.
Remember to put the phone down, and never text while driving.
Be careful when eating on the run, as lunch can be just as distracting as a cell phone. As I.I.I. notes, eating takes both your hand off the wheel and your eyes off the road, so don’t do it. Furthermore, spills can easily cause an accident. If you have to stop short, you could also be severely burned.
Buckle up or secure pets in the back of the car. Never allow your pet to ride in your lap while you’re driving.
5. Have a plan for roadside assistance.
If an accident occurs, be wary of unscrupulous towing companies. Have the phone number for your insurer or a roadside assistance program ready so you know who to call.
Some towing companies take advantage of drivers after an accident, and you could find yourself facing excessive fees or complications recovering your car from the tow yard.
6. Update your proof of insurance.
Before hitting the road, make sure to replace any expired insurance identification cards so you can prove you have insurance in the event of an accident or a traffic stop.
You should also check traffic laws for any states that you’ll be driving through or staying in.
7. Use safe phone habits.
I.I.I. advises drivers to pull off the road to a safe location if you must use the phone or text with someone.
If you must dial from the road, use voice-activated dialing. Program frequently called numbers and your local emergency number into your phone and use voice-activated dialing.
Let your voice mail pick up your calls while you’re driving. It's easy — and much safer — to retrieve your messages later on.
If you must make or receive a call while driving, keep conversations brief so you can concentrate on your driving. If a long discussion is required or if the topic is stressful or emotional, end the conversation and continue it once you are off the road.
Simple reminders that could make a trip on these busy Middle Tennessee roads more safe for you and those who ride with you. The danger is real as we are seeing in our claims this year that distracted driving is going to cost us more in insurance premiums in the days ahead.
Thanks for reading our blog! We're here to help and to EARN your insurance business. If there is anything we can do for you, feel free to email us at info@BentonWhite.com or contact our staff at 615.377.1212.
You buy insurance to protect your finances from life's surprises. But unless you know the finer points of your policies, you could be left with another surprise -- no coverage where you thought you had it. We get questions almost daily asking is this covered? We do our best to give the most accurate and easy to understand answers we can offer. I thought it might be good to share some of the more common questions (and one not so common) that we get here in the agency! Hopefully, this will help you to have a better understanding about your own insurance and what is or is not covered!
You lend your car to a friend. Does your auto insurance cover him or her? Yes - Generally, your auto insurance will cover a friend driving your car, as long as he or she has a license and has your permission to use the vehicle.
During a storm, your neighbor's tree falls on your house. Whose policy covers the damage? Yours! If a tree falls on your house, you are covered by your own homeowners insurance policy, not your neighbor's. However, if the neighbors tree was dead already and wasn't maintained by the owner of that tree, there could be other liability issues against that tree owner.
Your basement floods. Good thing you bought a separate flood insurance policy ahead of time. What does it cover? Choose: A. Carpet / B. Furnace / C. Furniture. The answer is B! The only thing on this list that's covered is your furnace. Flood insurance covers structural elements and essential equipment in a basement, but not living improvements made down there. That means it won't pay for furniture or carpets in a basement room, or damaged drywall that has been painted. (It will cover those things upstairs, however.) And don't expect your homeowner's policy to pick up the tab, either.
You rent a car. Does your existing auto insurance protect you in case of damage? Yes - Typically, your auto insurance will cover a car rental. Before you take a trip, you should check to be sure, or you may need to buy insurance from the rental car company. Check with your credit-card company, too -- it may also provide coverage.
Your 18-year-old child goes away to college. Is she still covered under your health insurance? Yes - Insurers must let adult children up to age 26 (today's definition of Affordable Health Care) stay on their parents' policies as long as the child isn't covered by an insurance plan at his or her own job.
Are your child's belongings covered under your homeowner's insurance while he's living in a college dorm? Yes - As long as your child is a full-time student and younger than 24, his belongings are usually covered by the parents' policy if he lives in a dorm. If he moves off campus, he might need to get his own renters insurance policy.
After a shopping spree at the mall, you put the goods in your car. Then you go back in to grab lunch. When you return, you find your purchases have been stolen. Are you covered? Yes - theft of your personal property is covered under your homeowners or renters policy. But bear in mind that the insurance company will probably want proof of your loss, so if your receipts were stolen along with the merchandise, you'll have to come up with some other way to prove what you bought. Also check with your credit-card company. Some offer extra purchase protection in case of theft.
Does your home insurance policy cover you for earthquake damage? No - Unless you buy separate earthquake insurance, you're not covered.
What if a volcano erupts? Are you covered then? Yes - You're in luck! A standard homeowner's policy will cover you against a volcanic eruption.
If I have a claim, do I call the insurance agency or do I call the insurance company? Call US! We're here to help you during that tough time and make sure we direct you appropriately in order to get the quickest results for settlement of your claim.
Hopefully these 10 questions with answers can give you better insight into what would be covered in these instances. We have more just like this on our website. Just visit our FAQ page for more in depth information.
Let us know how we can help you! Contact any of our staff at 615.377.1212 or email us at info@BentonWhite.com. We're help to make insurance easier for you. We want to EARN your business!
So here we are on the doorstep of Christmas 2016. Once again, I find myself being grateful for another great year - working with wonderful customers such as yourself. The agency continues to grow and prosper and we continue to solve insurance problems and fill insurance needs for so many every day. Thank you for letting us serve you with your insurance.
From our great staff here at the agency, my wonderful family and me, we hope you have a wonderful Christmas and may 2017 be full of grace, peace, and joy for you and those around you.
This is my Crew - all 19 of us! A RICH man am I!
Of course, I have to post Mimi & Poppy with the grandkids!
And yes - there are those CRAZY moments when it looks just about like this!
We appreciate your business and look forward to serving you with all things insurance in the months and years ahead!
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
Here we go! The coldest temps of this season yet with windchills coming in the next 3 to 4 days. Some are saying a 'roller-coaster' weather pattern. In the meantime, a quick review of PIPE protection. One pipe burst can flood your property and make this Christmas season a sudden nightmare!
As a public service, take these 5 precautions so you won't have that miserable event take place:
- CLOSE all foundation vents so cold air won't get in.
- CLOSE & SEAL your crawl space door. That is your outside wind-blocker! Seal it tight!
- DRIP a steady stream of water from one or two interior sinks spread-out in your home.
- UNHOOK garden hose from the spigot and cover exterior faucets with insulating material.
- KNOW where the main water shut-off valve is located so you can quickly turn off that water if a pipe does burst. Make a bee-line to it if you hear water!
Every winter season we get those sad phone calls from customers who have frozen and then burst pipes. Taking these quick precautions could make a big difference between a fun holiday or a horribly wet one in your home.
Let us know if you need anything regarding insurance. We're here to help and always ready to EARN your business. EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or call any of our capable and friendly staff at 615.377.1212. Merry Christmas to you and your family! Thanks for putting your eyes on our blog! Hope it helps!
We continue to welcome calls into the agency from people who are struggling to get a healthcare solutions individually or for their family. There's no question, healthcare these days is a challenge for nearly all of us.
I read an article this morning in THE TENNESSEAN that gives a little more information about what others face and the solutions that are out there. I thought it might interest you in seeing this article written by Holly Fletcher of THE TENNESSEAN with contributions from Kristi Nelson with the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Alan Hall sat with his laptop at the ready at Bellevue Public Library Sunday, prepared to help people navigate healthcare.gov as the first Health Insurance Marketplace deadline approaches this week.
The deadline to sign up with a guaranteed Jan. 1 coverage start date is Dec. 15. Navigators around the state like Hall are preparing for a busy week.
Listen to Hall speak for very long and it's a workshop on insurance, explaining co-insurance and the structure of plans' specialist and emergency room coverage, along with the random, odd personal fact - presumably the answer to a security question that won't be hard to remember.
Hall helped Melinda Hmielewski get enrolled in a Cigna plan that will start on Jan. 1. She's been paying $554 a month for Cobra through her former employer. Starting in 2017, however, her new premium will be zero.
She enrolled in a plan in about half an hour and thought the process, guided by Hall, was "just wonderful." She won't "have to pay a dime" in premiums and plans to use the plan as a bridge until she lands a new job and moves onto employer-sponsored coverage.
Hmielewski, referred to Hall by her sister Deborah Garrett, was his first appointment of the afternoon. Garrett has had an individual plan on the federally run exchange for two years.
While activity at enrollment events across the state is on par with last year, some groups expect to exceed the number of people they helped in 2015 by the end of the week.
The state saw fewer people enroll in the first month compared to the year before, but navigators said the loss of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee continues to be a concern for people in Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville who are weighing their options. Hall estimates that, for every one new enrollee he's helping, eight people pick a new insurer.
There were 55,434 people who picked a plan on the federally run Obamacare exchange across the state from Nov. 1 to Nov. 26, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In the first four weeks of enrollment in 2015, 62,922 Tennesseans selected a plan.
In Knoxville, the BCBST twist combined with the election of Donald Trump is shaping people's decisions, said Derrick Folsom, outreach coordinator for Cherokee Health Systems. Some people are forging ahead with picking new providers or insurers while others think the repeal-and-replace will come quickly in 2017 and are opting not to buy a plan.
Hmielewski expects Trump and his administration will take "what we've had in place for the last four years and make it better."
Folsom's seen people who say, "I'm going to get it one last time."
Plans purchased for next year will be in place throughout 2017. Trump and other Republicans in Washington, D.C., are talking about delaying the impacts of repeal for a couple of years.
"I just tell everybody that it's certainly going to be around this year," Hall said.
People who want a plan that starts at the beginning of 2017 shouldn't wait until the last minute to start enrolling, navigators said.
Last year, a surge of users in the days leading up to the 15th caused some shoppers to experience wait times online and on the phone, though the problems were not as widespread as the issues that plagued healthcare.gov in its first year. Federal officials wound up extending the deadline.
Open enrollment at healthcare.gov runs through Jan. 31.
If we can help you with any insurance needs, please let us know either by EMAILING us at info@BentonWhite.com or call any of our staff at 615.377.1212. We're always ready to EARN your business!
Dr. Mike Looney, the Superintendent of Williamson County Schools has made a great proactive move this week. There have been several vehicle tragedies in our area in the last few weeks where students have died either behind the wheel of a car or as a passenger. Dr. Looney addresses the need that we all have to be more careful to do all that we can to reduce these senseless tragedies.
We applaud Dr. Looney for this video. Obviously, we completely agree and hope that we all will do more to help all drivers - especially the less experienced drivers to learn the right way to drive so we can reduce accidents & accident deaths around us.
If there is anything we can do to help you with your insurance, we want to and are ready to protect you and your family in the best and most economical way possible. Contact any of our staff at 615.377.1212 or email us at info@BentonWhite.com.
I saw this a few days ago and thought it was interesting. It's fairly typical of what we see regarding outlook, economic outlook and concerns of many of us. Travelers, one of our great companies in the agency, offers their annual risk index and this graphic was put together to show the highlights.
We try to insure our customers so they WON'T be up at night! As a matter of fact, I often say ... "the decision about the right insurance program as well as the right amount of coverage truly depends on what helps you to sleep best at night!" After over 38 years in this business, I still feel that way.
If we can help you with anything insurance, contact any of our staff at 615.377.1212 or info@BentonWhite.com. ive us a call! It would be our pleasure to earn your business!
Today and everyday! This week and every week, we are grateful for so many things, including great relationships with family, friends, business acquaintances and many wonderful customers! Let's take a much needed break this week and remember how truly blessed we are!
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise! Give thanks to him and bless His name!
Psalm 100:4 (NASB)
We wish for you a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving from all of us
at Benton White Insurance!
How attentive are you when you drive? Is your attention on driving or are you distracted with the many things now available to us all as we drive. It's a critical time on our highways these days with distracted driving accidents growing at an alarming rate! Here are possibly some of the reasons why.
The messaging app Snapchat allows motorists to post photos that record the speed of the vehicle. The navigation app Waze rewards drivers with points when they report traffic jams and accidents. Even the game PokÃ©mon Go has drivers searching for virtual creatures on the nation's highways.
When distracted driving entered the national consciousness a decade ago, the problem was mainly people who made calls or sent texts from their cellphones. The solution then was to introduce new technologies to keep drivers' hands on the wheel. Innovations since then - car Wi-Fi and a host of new apps - have led to a boom in internet use in vehicles that safety experts say is contributing to a surge in highway deaths.
After steady declines over the last four decades, highway fatalities last year recorded the largest annual percentage increase in 50 years. And the numbers so far this year are even worse. In the first six months of 2016, highway deaths jumped 10.4 percent, to 17,775, from the comparable period of 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
"This is a crisis that needs to be addressed now," Mark R. Rosekind, the head of the agency, said in an interview.
The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating an Oct. 26 crash near Tampa that killed five people. A passenger in one car, a teenager, recorded a Snapchat video showing her vehicle traveling at 115 m.p.h. just before the collision.
A lawsuit filed in a Georgia court claims a teenage driver who was in a September 2015 crash near Atlanta was using Snapchat while driving more than 100 m.p.h., according to court records. The car collided with the car of an Uber driver, who was seriously injured.
Alarmed by the statistics, the Department of Transportation in October outlined a plan to work with the National Safety Council and other advocacy groups to devise a "Road to Zero" strategy, with the ambitious goal of eliminating roadway fatalities within 30 years.
The Obama administration's transportation secretary, Anthony Foxx, said that the near-term effort would involve identifying changes in regulations, laws and standards that could help reduce fatalities. That might include pushing for all states to tighten and enforce laws requiring use of seatbelts in cars and helmets on motorcycles, while cracking down on distracted or drunken driving. The effort might also include tougher regulation of heavy trucks, Mr. Foxx said.
A second, related effort would focus on setting longer-term goals and speeding the introduction of autonomous-driving technologies that many safety experts say have the potential to prevent accidents by removing distracted humans from the driving equation.
One concern so far, though, is that current generations of automated driver-assistance systems, like the Autopilot feature offered by Tesla Motors, may be lulling some drivers into a false sense of security that can contribute to distracted driving.
Whether highway safety officials in the Trump administration will have the same priorities, though, is too soon to say. The names of candidates for transportation secretary have not yet been publicly floated.
Most new vehicles sold today have software that connects to a smartphone and allows drivers to place phone calls, dictate texts and use apps hands-free. Ford Motor has its Sync system, for example. Others, including Honda, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz, offer their own interfaces as well as Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto.
Automakers say these systems enable customers to concentrate on driving even while interacting with their smartphones.
"The whole principle is to bring voice recognition to customers so they can keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel," said Alan Hall, a spokesman for Ford, which began installing Sync in cars in 2007.
Since then, the company has added features to reduce distractions, like a "do not disturb button" that lets drivers block incoming calls and texts.
CarPlay allows use of the iPhone's Siri virtual assistant to answer phone calls, dictate texts and control apps like Spotify and Pandora. Both Sync and CarPlay present simplified menus on a car's in-dash display to reduce driver distraction and turn off the phone's screen, eliminating the temptation to use the device itself.
But Deborah Hersman, president of the nonprofit National Safety Council and a former chairwoman of the federal National Transportation Safety Board, said it was not clear how much those various technologies reduced distraction - or, instead, encouraged people to use even more functions on their phones while driving. And freeing the drivers' hands does not necessarily clear their heads.
"It's the cognitive workload on your brain that's the problem," Ms. Hersman said.
Technology in some new cars is meant to reduce driver distractions or compensate for them.
Dr. William Chandler, a retired neurosurgeon in Ann Arbor, Mich., just bought a 2017 BMW X5 sport utility vehicle that warns him if he drifts out of his lane on the highway or if a car is in his blind spot. His favorite feature is a heads-up display on the windshield in front of him that projects his speed, the speed limit and navigation information.
"It puts all the directions and turns right there in my field of vision," he said. "That's a real safety factor for distracted driving, because I'm never looking at the map on the screen in the console."
But new cars make up only a small portion of the 260 million vehicles on the road in the United States. Digital diversion is harder to address in older models.
Brett Hudson, 26, a teacher at a charter school in Jackson, Mich., said his iPhone 6 Plus had become essential to his daily commute in his 2002 Chevrolet TrailBlazer. He uses Apple Maps for navigation, listens to music via Pandora and gets his favorite Michigan football call-in show on iHeart Radio.
To reduce the time he looks at the phone, Mr. Hudson installed an aftermarket Bluetooth system for hands-free phone calls. He mounts the iPhone on a clip attached to an air vent, enabling him to see the screen while still keeping the road in his field of vision.
Mr. Hudson concedes that the setup is not risk-free.
"I've noticed that when I do have to touch the phone,'' he said, my brain becomes so totally focused, even in that short period of time, and I don't really remember what's happening on the road in those four or five seconds."
Insurance companies, which closely track auto accidents, are convinced that the increasing use of electronic devices while driving is the biggest cause of the rise in road fatalities, according to Robert Gordon, a senior vice president of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.
"This is a serious public safety concern for the nation," Mr. Gordon said at a recent conference in Washington held by the National Transportation Safety Board. "We are all trying to figure out to what extent this is the new normal."'
We're here to help you with your insurance whether it be auto, home, motorcycle, life, long term care or other insurance needs. Contact any of our staff at info@BentonWhite.com or call us at 615.377.1212. With more than 38 years experience, we're ready to earn your insurance business.
[Portions of this blog post taken from an article in the New York Times - online edition - November 16, 2016 written by Neal E. Boudette (www.nytimes.com).]
It's clear that autonomous vehicles are coming to the market place. The only question is how quickly.
Google garnered attention with its prototype of a self-driving car, Ford Motor Co. says it plans to sell driverless cars to the public by 2025, and several other manufacturers, such as Mercedes, BMW and Volvo, are in the test phase. And, in the United States at least, a true sign of the coming technology: The federal government issued regulations on autonomous cars on Sept. 20.
The vehicles are touted as a way for aging drivers and people with disabilities to maintain their independence. They're also predicted to increase traffic safety and cut down on distracted driving. Commercial truck fleets are also testing autonomous vehicles, and cargo container ships are interested in the technology as well.
Earlier this year, the driver of a Tesla was killed in an accident while operating the vehicle on autopilot, and Chinese researchers recently claimed to have hacked into a Tesla and taken control of the brakes, among other things.
A recent report from the Boston Consulting Group, "Self-Driving Vehicles, Robo-Taxis, and the Urban Mobility Revolution," found that 58 percent of the 5,500 consumers surveyed across 10 countries would be willing to ride in a fully autonomous vehicle, although 23 percent aren't willing to cede control to the vehicle.
Here's a look at eight reasons that drivers are reluctant to use self-driving cars, according to a survey by the Boston Consulting Group and the World Economic Forum:
In the survey, 23 percent of the respondents were concerned that the car could be hacked.
7. Price tag
In the survey, 25 percent said they were unwilling to pay for self-driving functionality.
6. Traffic concerns
In the survey, 26 percent of respondents said they wouldn't trust self-driving technology in mixed traffic.
5. Unknown technology
More than a quarter of survey respondents - 27 percent - say they don't know enough about the technology yet.
4. Loss of a pleasurable experience
Almost 1 in 3 survey respondents - 30 percent - said that driving a motor vehicle is a pleasurable experience that they're reluctant to give up.
3. Driver' error
Of those surveyed, 43 percent don't want the car to make "mistakes" on the road.
2. Need for control
In the survey, 45 percent said they have a need for the driver to be in control of the vehicle at all times.
1. Safety concerns
Half of the people surveyed - 50 percent - responded that they wouldn't feel safe in a self-driving car.
Autonomous vehicles will certainly change auto insurance - both personal and commercial - in ways we're not completely sure of yet. But what do consumers really think about self-driving cars? Will the technology be adopted as quickly as we adopted smartphones?
We'll continue to keep an eye on the driverless car developments as it relates to insurance. Certainly insurance companies are very busy analyzing these risks and how to insure them properly and for the right price. We'll pass along anything we learn as this subject progresses.
If we can help you with driver-controlled car insurance, we're here and ready. Please reachout to any of our staff at info@BentonWhite.com or contact us at 615.377.1212. We're ready to EARN your business!
[Portions of this post taken from a recent article by: By Rosalie L. Donlon, PropertyCasualty360 // October 20th, 2016]
Every insurance policy is different. Properly understanding what's covered requires the homeowner to ask a lot of questions and to read the fine print on his or her insurance policy. Though there are differences between policies, there are some things that almost all insurance policies will have in common.
Homeowners insurance typically covers a broad range of possible damages. You can expect that your actual dwelling is covered, as well as some other structures on your property, like a garage, fence, driveway or shed. However, if you run a business on your property that's housed in a separate structure, this is generally not covered in the typical insurance policy.
Personal Property is typically accounted for in your policy as well. This is sometimes known as contents insurance. The amount of coverage for personal property may be limited on certain types of high-value items, such as jewelry or artwork, unless additional coverage is purchased for these items.
Replacement Cost vs. Fair Market Value
Not all insurance policies offer homeowners the replacement cost of the property. Buying coverage for replacement cost helps to bridge the gap that can be caused by inflation and loss of value when property items are no longer new. Otherwise, if a claim is made, it will be assessed at fair market value. Since some items depreciate quickly, this means that you may not get enough money from a claim to cover or replace the items that were lost or damaged. Coverage for replacement costs will ensure that you're able to replace the items that were lost, with similar items. If having this coverage is important to you, you'll want to be sure that both your home and personal property are covered for replacement cost. (At Benton White Insurance, we automatically include replacement cost on both dwelling and personal property.)
Car Broken in at Home
Most homeowners insurance policies generally include coverage for personal effects and separate structures on your property, such as a garage or a workshop. But what happens if your car is broken into while it's on your property? This is where the distinction between your home and auto insurance policies can become a little blurry. Many home insurance policies will provide some insurance for personal items that are stolen from your car, but some of the more comprehensive auto insurance policies may cover this, too. Insurance companies may also limit the coverage available through your policy, if the items stolen were purchased for use in the vehicle exclusively.
Natural Disaster Coverage
A wide range of natural disasters are typically covered by your homeowners insurance policy, though not all of them. If you live in some regions, you'll want to be sure to inquire about things like tornado or earthquake insurance. However, the typical inclusions for natural disaster include fire, lightning, windstorm and hail. Your policy may also include coverage for smoke damage, or damage caused by falling items. Earthquakes and other natural movements of the earth are not typically covered by insurance policies, though you can purchase separate insurance to cover these types of events.
Flooding is much the same as earthquakes, when it comes to homeowners insurance. Flash floods and even sewer backups are not generally covered in basic homeowner insurance policies, though you can ask your insurance company about adding coverage to your policy, especially if you live in a region that is prone to flooding. (For related reading, see Understanding Lender-Required Flood Insurance.)
Most homeowner insurance policies include coverage for injuries incurred by those on your property where you are liable. This could include something like someone slipping on a patch of ice that's on your front walk, or falling as a result of a broken step on your porch. This coverage is usually limited to a certain dollar value, so you definitely want to know how much coverage you have and exactly what's included. We're strong advocates of perosonal injury and personal liability coverage that extends above the base limits of your policy at Benton White Insurance. And, the pricing of the extra coverage is just pennies per day!
The deductible is the amount that the insured party has to pay when a claim is made. You can decrease your insurance costs by increasing the amount of your deductible, meaning you'll be required to pay more if you ever do have an incident that requires you to make a claim. Keep in mind that many mortgage providers require homeowners to carry a certain amount of insurance on their property with a deductible that's below a specified limit. Check with your mortgage provider before opting for the lowest possible rate with the highest possible deductible. It might be tempting to go for the lower rate, but if you ever do have to make an insurance claim, you might regret it, if you're responsible for a $10,000 deductible.
The Bottom Line
It may not seem like particularly interesting reading material, but it's a lot better to take the time to thoroughly read up on what your insurance policy covers, than to be stuck in a situation where you're not sure when you really need it. We often feel here at the agency that we are more in the education business than in the insurance policy business. We work hard to blend both so you end up with the most competitive coverage for the most affordable pricing. It's our job to educate you on all types of coverage's and make sure we don't miss anything that you need insured. Who knows, you might need additional coverage to cover your original Van Gogh painting or that giant diamond ring. We can help!
At the end of the day, doing your homework before purchasing a policy could really pay off if you're ever stuck in an unfortunate situation when you actually need to rely on your homeowners insurance.
We're here to help! Contact any of our staff at info@BentonWhite.com or call us at 615.377.1212. We're here to earn your business and help you to understand it too!
Portions of this blog post taken from: What Is and Isn't Covered by Homeowners Insurance | Investopedia | By Janet Fowler
Not that we've had questions about this .... and honestly, not that we have a tremendous interest in this story. However, there is ALWAYS an insurance angle that many don't consider. When there is $10Million in jewelry stolen in a robbery in a foreign country, many questions have to be answered before a claim could be paid. I thought this article from Billboard Magazine was interesting enough that we should share it. It's interesting reading!
This comes from an article entitled: HOW MUCH INSURANCE MONEY WILL KIM KARDASHIAN RECEIVE FOR HER STOLEN JEWELS? THAT DEPENDS / 10/6/2016 by Lauren Indvik, Billboard
"A multi-million dollar claim like this one is going to be difficult, both to investigate and to resolve," says Heather Perkins, head of underwriting at L.A.-based jewelry insurance specialist Lavalier.
A few hours after midnight on Monday morning, Kim Kardashian West was robbed at gunpoint in her Paris hotel of what is now estimated to be more than $10 million worth of jewelry - a story that has captivated the media, both in Europe and the U.S., in the days since.
As there is little chance the jewels will be recovered, Kardashian is now presumably about to enter into a complicated claims process with her insurance company - most likely Lloyd's of London (which specializes in insurance for multimillion-dollar gems), according to Scott Andrew Selby, co-author of Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History.
But how much Kardashian West will receive for the loss (assuming, of course, that each piece was insured) depends on a number of factors, including the category and conditions of her coverage. "It all depends on the type of jewelry coverage the customer purchased," Janece White, North American vice president of underwriting and jewelry specialist at Chubb Personal Risk Services, a multinational property and casualty insurer, tells Billboard. "Was it worldwide coverage? Was there a maximum amount of coverage provided while traveling? Were there any restrictions with regard to the security required while traveling with the jewelry? In some instances restrictions are placed on the policy, which require that when traveling the jewelry be kept in a secure hotel safe - not the room safe."
The conditions of Elizabeth Taylor's insurance on the famous, 69.42 carat Taylor-Burton diamond, for example, specified that Taylor should only wear it in public 30 days per year and when protected by security guards, according to Lloyd's. If anything had happened to the diamond while violating those conditions, she would not have received the full value of her claim.
Assuming Kardashian West is indeed insured, and was following the dictates of her policy to a T, the claims process will still be complicated. "Very high value, unique and rare items can be tricky to replace with pieces of 'like kind and quality,' which is the standard for most insurance companies," Heather Perkins, head of underwriting at Los Angeles-based jewelry insurance specialist Lavalier, tells Billboard. "So a multi-million dollar claim like this one is going to be difficult, both to investigate and to resolve.
"It is common for those who own jewels as pricey as Kardashian West's to wear imitation jewelry while traveling - something White strongly suggests for other owners of high-ticket items. And if an imitation set is not an option, storing the jewels in the hotel security safe when they aren't being worn is a must. "I would also be wary of making my whereabouts known, as individuals who could wish me harm could use that information," she adds. "And lastly, because even when all precautions are taken, sometimes bad things happen. I would want to make sure I had the best insurance coverage in place to protect my valuables."
We insure jewelry, music instruments, sports equipment and many other personal type articles. And yes, if you have $10,000,000 to insure, we have companies. So let us know if we can help! Contact any of our staff at info@BentonWhite.com or call us at 615.377.1212. We're always ready to earn your business!
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