HIRED AND NON-OWNED AUTO EXPOSURES – ARE YOU COVERED?

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January 2nd, 2019

Many businesses own one or more vehicles used to make deliveries, drive to customer locations or run errands. If one of your vehicles is scheduled on a commercial auto policy, you likely have liability coverage to protect you and your business in the event you or one of your employees get into an accident.

However, have you ever thought about potential auto liability exposures that exist beyond the vehicles you own?

Ask yourself if you have ever used a vehicle that you rented or borrowed from another person or business. Or, have you ever asked an employee to use their own vehicle to run a business-related errand? If you have ever considered or done either of these, your auto policy may not automatically cover your liability in these situations.

Hired auto liability protects your business from liability losses involving vehicles you don’t own, but rent or borrow for business use. Non-owned auto liability protects your business from liability exposures created when your employees use their own vehicles for the benefit of your business.

For example, without hired auto coverage, you may not have liability protection for an accident incurred while driving a rented or borrowed vehicle; and without non-owned auto liability coverage, you may not be covered if you are found legally responsible for injuries resulting from employees driving their own cars on behalf of your business.

It is common for exposures to change as your business changes. If you are unsure if you have the proper coverages to protect your business from exposures related to vehicles you don’t own, contact our agency and ask us to perform a coverage review.

 

‘TIS THE SEASON… for an umbrella policy

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November 5th, 2018

The year seemed to have flown by and we are now approaching the holiday season. It’s the season for friends and family to gather together to laugh, reminisce and make new memories. Opening a home to guests can be one of the greatest joys of the holiday season but it can also mean increased risks. A homeowners policy includes liability coverage, but does it include enough?  It is important for a homeowner to understand the increased risk and what it may mean for them.  Here are some ways to help reduce your risk:

1) Clearing ice and snow from the sidewalks and driveway

2) Clearing clutter from the hallways and stairs

3) Being cautious of how much guests are drinking – calling a taxi if necessary

4) Checking food temperatures to insure food is properly cooked to eliminate food poisoning

Even if the above precautions are taken, accidents happen, along with liability lawsuits. An umbrella policy helps provide the extra protection you may need this holiday season.  The Oakes Agency offers umbrella policies ranging from $1M to $10M.  Help protect your assets this holiday season with an umbrella policy today.

PREPARING FOR THE UNEXPECTED

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August 10th, 2018

What would you do if your home was destroyed by a fire, or one of your water pipes burst while you were on vacation, or a burglar stole valuable items from your home?

You can’t prepare for everything, but planning for the unexpected when dealing with property claims could make these situations easier to handle.

Below are some things to consider before a loss happens:

  1. Take photographs with a phone camera to document ownership of items.
  2. Walk room by room, making notes of items. Don’t forget things like artwork, bedding and clothing.
  3. Prepare an inventory list of your property throughout your home.
  4. Make sure you record high-value items such as antiques, guns and jewelry.
  5. Don’t forget storage sheds and your garage for contents you may have outside of the home.

If you suffer a loss, below is a checklist of things to do to make the claim go more efficiently:

  1. Notify your agent.
  2. Protect your property from further damage.
  3. Create an inventory of damaged or destroyed items.
  4. Keep your inventory cataloged by room. This way you’ll be less likely to forget something.
  5. Fully describe each damaged item, including quantity, age, brand, model and serial number, if available.
  6. Submit completed inventory forms to your claim adjuster as soon as possible.
  7. Save all receipts for items you replaced and number each to correspond with your inventory.

Dealing with a loss can be emotional and time-consuming. It is our agency’s goal to provide excellent claims service. By using these tips, you will be better prepared for the unexpected and know what to do if a loss occurs.

 

DRIVE FOR A RIDE-SHARING COMPANY?

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May 1st, 2018

Two peer-to-peer trends that are growing in popularity are ride-sharing and personal vehicle sharing, or car-sharing. Most people do not realize that their personal auto insurance policy may not cover them if they were to suffer a loss using either service.

Ride-sharing involves a transportation network company (TNC), such as Uber or Lyft, which provides prearranged transportation services for compensation. This is done by using a digital network (app) to connect passengers with drivers using their personal vehicles to transport people, goods, items or products for a fee. Individuals like to use a TNC as an alternative to taking a taxi or renting a vehicle, and those who drive for a TNC do so as a way to make extra income.

A personal vehicle sharing program, or car-sharing, provides individuals with the opportunity to list their personal vehicle(s) online for rent to others. This gives vehicle owners an opportunity to make some extra money with a vehicle that they may not often drive. It also serves as an alternative rental option rather than using a traditional auto rental agency.

If you lend your vehicle via a personal vehicle sharing program or drive for a transportation network company, please discuss this with our agency to ensure that you have the right coverage.

 

TEXTING WHILE DRIVING

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March 5th, 2018

Texting while driving is a growing trend, and a national epidemic, quickly becoming one of the country’s top killers. Drivers assume they can handle texting while driving and remain safe, but the numbers don’t lie.

Texting While Driving Causes:

1. 1,600,000 accidents per year – National Safety Council
2. 330,000 injuries per year – Harvard Center for Risk Analysis Study
3. 11 teen deaths EVERY DAY – Ins. Institute for Hwy Safety Fatality Facts
4. Nearly 25% of ALL car accidents

Texting While Driving Is:

1. About 6 times more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated
2. The same as driving after 4 beers – National Hwy Transportation Safety Admin.
3. The number one driving distraction reported by teen drivers

Texting While Driving:

1. Makes you 23X more likely to crash – National Hwy Transportation Safety Admin.
2. Is the same as driving blind for 5 seconds at a time – VA. Tech Transportation Institute
3. Takes place by 800,000 drivers at any given time across the country
4. Slows your brake reaction speed by 18% – HumanFactors & Ergonomics Society
5. Leads to a 400% increase with eyes off the road

Research Articles

DO I NEED FLOOD INSURANCE?

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January 10th, 2018

If you live in a 100-year floodplain and have a mortgage, you don’t have to wonder if you need flood insurance – it’s required as a condition of your loan.

If flood insurance is not required as a condition of your mortgage, you’re not obligated to carry it. However, there are a few things that you should know:

• Flooding can happen anywhere and anytime.

• Even a minimal amount of flooding can have disastrous financial consequences. According to the National Flood Insurance Program, one foot of water can cause $27,150 of damage to a 1,000-square foot home, and the average flood claim is more than $38,000.

• If you think a regular home hazard insurance policy covers losses caused by a flood or heavy rains, think again. You need a separate flood insurance policy to cover flood damage caused by a storm, hurricane, heavy rain or ineffective levee.

• No matter how well you plan for a flood, the costs may be more than you anticipate. If you are not on solid financial footing with money set aside for emergencies, it may be better to get coverage. Flood policies in moderate- to low-risk areas could cost less than your monthly cellphone bill, and could save you a bundle if your home sustains damage.

For more information about your flood risk and the potential cost of a flood to your home, go to https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/. Then call our agency and we will make sure that your home is protected.

THINKING OF BUYING AN OLDER HOME?

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May 17th, 2017

Do you plan to buy an older home because it has character or as an investment? In either case, make sure you pay attention to the type of wiring. Nancy Arndt, personal lines senior underwriter, will explain the problems with old wiring.

Many homes that were built before 1950, and go as far back as the 1800s, have what’s known as knob and tube wiring. Knob and tube wiring consists of porcelain knobs with old-style wiring that was wrapped around it as it runs through the joists, floor boards, and walls. The wiring consists of one hot wire and one neutral wire and has a thick insulation coating around it.

Problems with this old style of wiring:

  1. Back in those days, wiring was designed to carry very small currents as electricity was used mainly for lighting. Today we use much more electricity with many electronic devices and appliances plugged into outlets. The old knob and tube wiring isn’t sufficient anymore. It doesn’t adequately supply enough electricity to the home and it can pose a significant fire hazard when overloaded.
  2. It also doesn’t have a ground wire to protect the home and its appliances during a lightning strike.
  3. If rolled or loose-blown insulation has been added to the home, it could be covering the wiring. There must be three inches of space between the live wire and any flammables.
  4. There may have been newly-installed light fixtures or ceiling fans and the newer Romex wiring could be spliced into the knob and tube wiring. These lines, however, weren’t designed for system additions and all of this could significantly increase the risk of fire.
  5. The wiring could have outdated fuse boxes for main disconnects.

Be sure to look in the basement and/or attic and check the fuse box in the home. If you plan to buy the home, but see any knob and tube wiring or an outdated electrical fuse box, you should consider having it updated immediately.

Contact the Oakes Agency prior to purchasing the home.  Many insurance companies have restrictions on this type of electrical system and you could have a problem finding a company that will insure your home.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them; please share them in the box below.

DEHUMIDIFERS – FIRE RISK

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May 8th, 2017

Dehumidifers can overheat and catch fire. Do you have one?

There are millions of dehumidifiers in homes across the country. A dehumidifier takes the moisture out of the air and keeps our homes dry. They work extremely hard in spring and summer.

While your dehumidifier is certainly beneficial, it may be a fire danger! Have you heard of the massive recall of many brand name dehumidifiers? If not keep reading. This article could prevent a dangerous fire in your home.

In 2013, Gree Corporation, in conjunction with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, announced a massive dehumidifier recall.  Some of the brand names included in that recall are:

  • Frigidaire
  • Kenmore
  • Danby or Premier
  • De’Longhi or SuperClima
  • Gree
  • Fedders
  • Fellini
  • Norpole
  • Seabreeze
  • Soleus Air

At that time, Gree acknowledged a few dozen fires with an estimated $2.7 million in damage.

On January 30, 2014 Gree expanded the recall to include General Electric (GE).

The lastest recall which was issued on November 29, 2016, added even more popular brand names to the list.

All of the recalled dehumidifiers were manufactured in China.

West Bend has had several fire claims caused by the defective dehumidifiers. Damages total more than $1 million. Overall numbers throughout the country are on the rise and they’re staggering.

So here are the facts:

  • The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled 5.6 million dehumidifiers in two separate recalls.
  • The dehumidifiers recalled have caused hundreds of fires resulting in $19 million in reported damage.
  • The recall affects 60 different brands of dehumidifiers that were built between 2003 and 2013.
  • The recalled dehumidifiers were sold at big box retailers such as Home Depot, Menards, Lowes, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Sears, K Mart, Lowes, HH Gregg, and even Amazon.

To see if your dehumidifier is recalled, click here. The information provided will show you where to find the model number on your dehumidifier. Once you have the brand and model number, you can enter the information and do an online search.

If your dehumidifier is on the list, stop using it and unplug it immediately. The recalled dehumidifiers can overheat, smoke, and catch fire.

To watch some media coverage on this very dangerous and serious issue, check out the links below.

Millions of dehumidifiers pose serious fire risk
Faulty dehumidifier believed to be cause of West Bend house fire

Spring is here and you may be in the market for a new dehumidifier. If so, check out the Dehumidifier Buying Guide from Consumer Reports.

Please share this information with your family and friends. It could save their lives!

Do you have any information you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you. Please share them in the comment box below.

Sources:
http://www.wthr.com/article/millions-of-dehumidifiers-pose-serious-fire-risk
https://www.cpsc.gov/

ARE YOU COVERED IF YOUR NEIGHBOR SLIPS ON YOUR SNOW/ICE COVERED SIDEWALK?

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March 5th, 2017

When the snow hits, be sure to keep these tips in mind so you can enjoy your snow day.

  1. Check your local ordinances about snow removal. You’re likely required to remove all snow on walkways within 24 hours of snow accumulation. If you’ll be out of town, make sure you arrange for someone to come to your property and take care of the snow removal for you.
  2. Get yourself a present this year.  Purchasing an ergonomic snow shovel can help avoid unnecessary strain to your body. Even fluffy snow can feel heavy when you have a lot of area to clear.
  3. Salt freshly-cleared areas. When shoveling or snow blowing is complete, be sure to salt the freshly-cleared areas. A light dusting and freezing temperatures can turn quickly walkways into ice rinks. Driveways should get the salt treatment, as well. If you prefer, sand can be used instead of salt.
  4. Keep the mail carrier and garbage/recycling collectors in mind too. Snowplows can make mailboxes and garbage/recycling bins difficult to access which makes their jobs that much harder.

Keeping your property safe is incredibly important if you want to avoid injury to a guest, passerby, or worker. If someone slips and falls on your property, you could be facing an insurance claim. The person who fell may also sue you. This is why it’s important to understand how your insurance policy works to keep your finances protected.

While your Homeowner’s Liability and Medical Payments coverages will respond if someone falls on your property and you’re found liable, will you have enough coverage? If your Homeowner’s Liability limit is at $100,000, you might not have enough coverage for all the medical expenses incurred by the person who fell. With the rising costs of hospital care, it’s best to review your policy with your insurance agent to make sure you have enough coverage.

If you don’t already have an Umbrella Liability policy, it’s a good time to look into purchasing one. If your Homeowner’s Liability coverage limit is met, but you still owe money, your Umbrella Liability policy will kick in and provide at least $1,000,000 of additional coverage.

If the chore of snow removal is too strenuous or you simply don’t want to do it, there are many professional snow removal services around. Give them a call and let them keep your property safe.

PREVENT HOUSE FIRES

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February 8th, 2017

If you’re building a new home, remodeling your existing home, or you recently built a new deck, you may be staining the new woodwork yourself. While it saves money, it can be a bit scary and dangerous.

Stain is permanent! It will stain your clothes, fingers, and anything else it meets. So if you’re trying a DIY staining project, wear protective eyewear, rubber gloves, and old clothing. Oil-based stains also have fumes, so it’s important to work in a properly-ventilated area.

The staining project turns dangerous if you don’t properly store or dispose of the used rags.

Oil-based stains are very common with woodworking projects. Linseed based stains can be found on every hardware store’s shelf. They’re used for staining furniture, floors, decks, and woodwork in your home. However, if they’re not stored or disposed of properly, they can auto-ignite and start a fire in your home. Unfortunately, people have lost their homes and possessions because of this dangerous situation.

So how can a pile of rags sitting on your garage floor start a fire? As oily rags begin to dry, heat is produced. If they’re thrown into a pile, oxygen is trapped underneath. The combination of heat, oxygen and the cloth can lead to spontaneous combustion, which results in a fire that could destroy your home.

TIPS FOR STORING AND DISPOSING OF OILY STAIN RAGS

  1. Never store rags in a pile. Used rags should be spread out in a safe flat area to dry. If you lay them out on your garage floor or driveway, weight them down so the wind doesn’t blow them away. Once they’re dry, check with your city or municipality for disposal instructions.
  2. Store the rags in an airtight, non-combustible metal container. If you plan to use your rags later, this step is critical. The metal container should be filled with a solution of water and an oil breakdown detergent.
  3. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Since manufacturers use different oils in their products, it’s important to follow their warnings and disposal instructions. They may differ from manufacturer to manufacturer.