You've been in an accident. Here are some general guidelines about what to do next:
Should you purchase rental agency coverage?
If you have collision and comprehensive ("other than collision") coverages on your own car, you are most likely covered if you're traveling in the United States, its territories and possessions or Canada (for example, travel in Mexico, the Bahamas or Europe would not be covered). Most policies (except business policies) cover any rental car that you drive at no additional premium. Business cars frequently require an extra premium to afford the same coverage. Give us a call before you leave for your "fun in the sun and/or snow" to confirm your coverage.
If you are thinking about leasing or buying a car, you might consider adding Lease Loan Gap (LLG) Coverage to your auto policy. LLG Coverage is an extension of your auto's physical damage coverage.
Ordinarily, your comprehensive and collision coverages provide you with up to the actual cash value (the vehicle's cost minus depreciation) in the event of a total loss. When you sign a lease or loan agreement, you may be obligating yourself for an amount higher than the vehicle's actual cash value.
At a cost of approximately 5% of your current comprehensive and collision premiums, LLG Coverage protects you from out-of-pocket expense when such a "gap" occurs. Although there are some limitations, LLG Coverage will pay up to your lease or loan amount if your car is stolen or if the cost of repairs is greater than its salvage value. Contact our office and we'd be happy to discuss this coverage further.
Note: Some car manufacturers may provide gap coverage as part of the lease agreement --- check your particular contract for details.
New Car Selection: Safety Counts
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has published a shopping guide for those wanting to buy a new car based upon safety features. While the guide does provide specific car lists (from station wagons to sports cars) it also reveals some overall safety basics to keep in mind.
Air bags - Serving as a buffer between vehicle interiors and occupants' heads and faces, air bags provide automatic protection in frontal crashes. The Institute advises that although "the speed and force of air bag inflation may occasionally cause minor injuries such as abrasions, this slight risk is far outweighed by the benefits." This type of injury can be reduced by selecting a seat position that is not too close to the steering wheel.
Safety belts - Remember, the more comfortable the safety belt, the more likely you are to always use it. Even though shoulder belts allow some forward movement, automatic crash tensioners and/or belt webbing grabbers can reduce the chance of an occupant hitting the steering wheel or dashboard in a serious frontal crash.
Antilock brakes - Especially designed to avoid skidding and loss of control, antilock brakes automatically pump several times a second. Drivers need to become familiar with the difference in braking style as antilocks require heavy braking pressure to activate this safety feature.
Head restraints - Required in the front seats of all new passenger vehicles, head restraints prevent occupants' heads from snapping back in a rear-end crash. Look for a fixed head restraint or an adjustable restraint that is designed to protect tall and short people even in the "down" position. Avoid a poorly-designed adjustable restraint that would only protect the shortest occupants.
Built-in child seats - Several cars and vans offer built-in child safety seats as options.
Do I Really Need It?
You're driving your son to soccer practice when you are rear-ended at a stop sign. Dealing with the initial trauma of the accident and injuries and the subsequent disruption of a period of medical recovery and the inconvenience of car repairs is bad enough. What if the injuries are serious? And what if the at-fault driver has no insurance? Where do you turn?
This is where your Uninsured Motorists (UM) Coverage comes into play.
What is UM Coverage? The Ohio Insurance Institute defines it as coverage that "pays the policyholder and passengers in his/her car for losses sustained by reason of bodily injury ... caused by the owner or operator of an uninsured automobile or a hit and run driver."
What is the difference between Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists Coverage? Underinsured Motorists Coverage covers you and passengers in your car for "losses unpaid because sufficient bodily injury liability limits are not available from the policy of an at-fault driver." In other words, Uninsured Motorists covers you if the wrongdoer has no insurance while Underinsured Motorists covers you in the event that the wrongdoer has some coverage but not enough.
Many people wonder if UM is really necessary. After all, isn't liability insurance mandatory? How can there be any uninsured drivers out there? The problem is not everyone obeys the law. The Office of Public Safety for the State of Ohio recently quoted to us in a telephone interview that 7% of the drivers convicted of moving violations in a recent six-month period were found to have no insurance. There are upwards of 11 million automobiles registered in the State of Ohio. If even 5% of them are uninsured, that's a
frighteningly high number!
Others question the necessity of UM in light of the fact they have very comprehensive medical coverage. In the event of an accident with an uninsured driver, they assume their own medical coverage will fully protect them. Yes, medical insurance would likely cover most medical expenses. But it will not generally compensate the injured person for lost wages, disfigurement, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and changes in quality of life. For a person permanently disabled following an accident, even things such as modifications to make a home and a vehicle more accessible can cost tens of thousands of dollars. UM can compensate the victim in these broader areas.
There are ways insurance dollars can be saved, but paring down or going without UM is one we strongly discourage. The largest claim in our agency history is not a huge fire loss or a big liability settlement. It is, you guessed it, a UM claim.
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage
It is estimated that one out of every 20 motorists is driving uninsured. Although this figure represents only 5% of today's drivers, uninsured motorists are responsible for approximately 13% of all auto accidents. If you become involved in an accident with an at-fault driver of an uninsured motor vehicle there are coverage options available to ensure that you are adequately protected:
UMBI- Uninsured Motorists Bodily Injury Coverage provides bodily injury coverage for you and for the occupants of your vehicle. Most policies already provide this coverage.
UMPD- Uninsured Motorists Property Damage provides coverage for your vehicle. Vehicles without collision coverage have no protection for damage resulting from an accident with an uninsured driver. If the optional UMPD coverage is added to your policy and you find yourself tangled in an accident with the at-fault driver having no insurance, you won't be left to pay for the
damage to your car out of your own pocket. Please contact us if you want to check into how your particular company's UMPD coverages are structured and priced.
Earthquake, Flood and Sewer Back-up
While not wanting to dampen your anticipation of this long-awaited season, it is a good idea to review some optional coverages you may wish to add to your current homeowners policy. Flood insurance as well as the sewer back-up and earthquake endorsements are worth a brief examination.
Flood- Since flood damage is excluded under your homeowners coverage, you should be aware that flood insurance is available from the National Flood Insurance Program. Most Ohio communities have qualified for the program that provides coverage for surface flooding only. Structural and contents protection are offered. A $500 deductible applies.
Sewer Back-Up- This endorsement provides protection for direct loss caused by water that backs up through sewers, drains or sump pump wells. Just as flood insurance excludes coverage for sewer back-up, this endorsement excludes any coverage for damage due to flooding. Coverage is subject to a deductible.
Earthquake- Coverage is available with the premium determined by the structure of your home or building. Because it will better withstand an earthquake, a frame structure is less to insure than a masonry one. A substantial deductible (often a percentage of the amount of insurance that applies to the destroyed or damaged property) is in effect.
For clarification of your current policy or information regarding the above coverages, please contact us. We welcome the opportunity to evaluate your present needs and to discuss possible insurance improvements for you and your family.
Controlling household expenses is something we all try to do. We want to help you reduce your home insurance costs when possible. Here are some points to consider:
Smoke alarms. Check your policy or contact us to see that you are receiving a discount. If you don't have alarms, get them. Not just for the discount, but for your family's safety.
Higher deductibles. The standard deductible today is $250. If yours is lower, you are paying an added charge. If you choose a $500 or higher deductible, more savings are available.
Delete unneeded coverage. Review your policy. There may be jewelry listed that has since been sold, endorsements for businesses in the home that are no longer in operation or other unnecessary coverages.
Central station alarms. Fire and burglary alarm systems that automatically dial a central station can provide both good security and a significant premium savings.
Combine home and auto insurance in one company. Companies often offer a discount on the home and auto insurance or both when carried by the same insurer.
In addition to these money-saving tips, some companies offer discounts if you have fire extinguishers, deadbolt locks or a loss-free record. Check with us to see if your plan offers any of these options.
Remember, under insuring is not a recommended way to save premium as it can lead to serious problems settling a claim. Whether it's a question about cost or coverage, we're always willing to review any insurance concerns with you. Please call us.
What is it? Should I have it?
Skyrocketing court settlements and medical costs can cause uneasy feelings about the adequacy of insurance protection. Liability insurance pays for injuries to others due to negligent acts by you or another covered person on your policy. Although the liability insurance provided under a home or auto insurance policy is adequate for most situations, in a few instances large lawsuit settlements do approach or exceed the limits of these policies.
An umbrella liability policy is designed to give you peace of mind from this concern. It adds one million dollars (or multiples of $1 million) of protection to the liability limits of your home and auto insurance policy. * Should a judgment against you exceed the limits of that policy, the umbrella picks up the unpaid portion up to the umbrella policy limit.
Persons most likely to purchase an umbrella policy are:
"Likely "targets" for a large lawsuit: property owners, professionals, business owners, higher income individuals, etc. Those who want greater peace of mind knowing that their life savings will be protected from a financially devastating lawsuit. Coverage cost varies, but it is generally $115 to $150 per year for a $1 million limit. If you would like more information on this topic, please call us. We will be happy to discuss it with you.
*The umbrella can also increase the liability limit for your boat, rental property, motor home, recreational vehicle, motorcycle, vacation home and others.