Personal Protection

6 Steps to Take Following a Vehicle Collision

Vehicle collisions happen each day to drivers of all ages. They are part of life in big cities and small towns. Knowing the correct actions to take following an auto collision can have a lasting impact on insurance premiums and possible legal repercussions. Take the correct measures to stay protected. Here are 6 steps to take following a vehicle collision:

1. Get to Safety

The action to take following an auto collision is getting to safety. Depending on the situation, this could mean moving a vehicle safely to the shoulder or exiting the automobile immediately. Always place safety as the top priority above all else. Create distance from moving traffic and other hazards before moving ahead.

2. Evaluate for Injury

A vehicle collision sends the adrenaline response into overdrive. Shock can distract from injuries. Check for personal injuries and encourage all others involved to do the same. If any back or neck injuries are suspected, immobilization is recommended. Any medically trained personnel can perform first aid if the situation allows.

3. Contact First Responders

After moving to safety and applying immediate first aid, call 911 and request aid. This is recommended any time there’s a vehicle collision, regardless of severity. Injuries may take days or longer to appear. Additionally, insurance carriers may reference official records following a vehicle collision.

4. Collect Information

With safety and first aid under control, it’s time to collect pertinent information from the people involved. More than driver name and car insurance carrier, thoroughly record the scene. Take photographs of the vehicles, damage, and the scene. Speak to the first responders to gather any relevant information. Trauma can affect short-term memory. Record responses for simple reference and accuracy.

5. Be Cooperative 

Following a vehicle collision, you may be in a heightened state of emotional response. This can make it challenging to be cooperative with other drivers and first responders. Other drivers are likely energized as well and may be challenging to communicate with. Be part of the solution.

6. Exercise Neutrality

One of the first gut responses following a vehicle collision or other trauma is talk it out. It’s perfectly natural yet following a vehicle collision a casual remark may cause trouble. After a vehicle collision, stay neutral with other drivers, witnesses, and responders. This includes remaining silent on social media channels. Inadvertently admitting fault may lead to increased insurance premiums and more.

Afterward, contact an insurance agent to report the collision and begin a claim. Agents are ready to help overcome vehicle collisions so you can get back on the road. Auto collisions are equal-opportunists and can happen anywhere. Prepare with comprehensive auto insurance and drive protected.

Update Home Insurance & Cover Natural Disasters

Homeowners are taking too many risks with insurance coverage. According to a recent study by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), only a small percentage of homeowners plan for natural disasters when updating insurance plans. Approximately 4/5 homeowners are lacking sufficient insurance protection. Saving a couple of bucks today may cost a lot tomorrow. The Commission encourages all homeowners to consider updating insurance plans to include adequate coverage for natural disasters.

This past year, the nation watched as Houston and the Gulf states were struck by catastrophic flooding. In the Southwest, Northern Nevada was subject to catastrophic flooding as well. Many of the local homeowners found only too late their homeowners’ insurance policies lacked coverage for floods. In California, wildfires have ravaged the landscape leaving the door open for mudslides and erosion.

For most damages caused by natural disasters, additional insurance protection is required. The Commission’s survey found over half of homeowners were unfamiliar with their insurance policy. Between 2005 and 2015, natural disasters led to $24 billion in insurance claims. For those with protection, that’s a lot of savings.

Speak to an agent to review and update your homeowners’ insurance policy. In some cases, insurance coverage will have a mandatory waiting period before taking effect. Before disaster strikes, ask an agent about extra insurance protection for:

  • Earthquakes
  • Hurricanes
  • Flooding
  • Wildfires

A local agent will be familiar with other potential hazards specific to the area.

Additional questions to think about when updating a homeowners insurance policy include:

  • Were any changes or upgrades made to the home?
  • Has the number of home occupants changed?
  • Have any valuables been added to the home?

Matching homeowners insurance protection with the property protected will ensure compensation is swift and appropriate in case of a natural disaster.

Take steps to help keep home and property safe during a natural disaster. Always stay aware of local emergency warnings and follow official instructions for evacuation and disaster response.

Misleading Insurance Carriers Can Cost You

Drivers may be leaving some details out on their insurance policies. A lot of drivers it would seem, as a recent poll found over 80% of drivers fudge the details when obtaining a car insurance policy. There are a number of ways to save on car insurance from safe-driver discounts to policy bundling. Falsifying details to save money will likely cost more in the long run.

According to the survey, the top 5 ways drivers try to mislead insurance carriers are:

1. Misrepresenting annual mileage
2. Listing an incorrect primary driver
3. Falsifying the purpose of the vehicle (personal, commercial, etc)
4. Submitting misleading information about vehicle location
5. Omitting previous insurance claims history

For most people submitting false information, the primary motivation is financial gain. This is a risky gamble with potentially costly consequences.

Insurance carriers are on the lookout for this. Insurers are likely to void policies with intentional omissions or misrepresentations. This can be particularly risky in case of a claim as falsified policies may be dropped right when you need coverage most. That means that in case of a car accident, drivers can find themselves on the hook for extensive medical and property damages.

Falsifying insurance documents can have long-term impacts on insurance policy availability and the prices for premiums. Insurance carriers may be unwilling to carry policies for a driver with a history of telling “white lies”. Beyond higher future premiums, there is more than continuous auto insurance coverage at stake. Call it what you may, a “white lie” is an intentional omission. In the eyes of the law, this is considered insurance fraud, punishable by both fines and incarceration.

On the brighter side, it’s still possible to get great rates on comprehensive auto insurance plans. Our agents can help find the maximum number of discounts for honest coverage at affordable rates.

Get Pet Insurance

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Get Pet Insurance from Insurance Professionals.

You’ve seen the brochures in the veterinarian office or at the pet store, but what are you getting? You probably haven’t purchased it because you aren’t sure about whether or not you’re purchasing credible, understandable coverage. We’re going to help.

You can get insurance on your dog and/or cat through us with Safeco Insurance. We know we’re providing a legitimate insurance product. We can offer accident/illness only, or add in coverage regular well-care visits. It’s health insurance for your loyal pet.

You know you care and you know you should… contact us today to get the rest of your ‘family’ the insurance coverage they need to have.

From our office ‘bulletin board’ and our new art department:

 

Personal Auto Policy Voided Because of Business Driving

Entrepreneurs utilizing personal vehicles for business may want to consider extra insurance protection. Making deliveries and service calls with personal vehicles may limit insurance coverage. This can be true for accidents while working or while on personal business. A local small business owner learned this the hard way. On the way to visit a friend there was a collision resulting in significant damage to the vehicle. Although her personal policy would generally cover the damages the insurance company denied the claim. Personal auto insurance policies extend to protect many small business owners yet in some cases, vehicles employed for specific commercial purposes may be excluded from coverage.

Most small business owners are protected under personal auto insurance policies. In some cases though, the commercial purpose for the vehicle may limit or forfeit coverage. For cars and trucks performing deliveries, equipped with commercial license plates, carrying passengers and emergency vehicles extra insurance coverage is necessary. In this case, the driver owned a small business selling heaters and a small part of that included deliveries.

The owner recently switched insurance carriers online to save money. Checking the box during the quotation process, they reported 30% of the vehicle mileage related to business purposes. Reviewing the insurance claim and the business services after the collision, the claim and repayment were denied. Shocked, the business owner learned the limits of personal auto insurance protection too late. This leaves the owner with a damaged personal and business vehicle, without compensation from the auto insurer.

Business owners mixing personal and business trips with the same vehicle may want to consider extra insurance protection. For more information on personal and commercial auto insurance policies contact an agent. We’re always keeping up with insurance-related topics that may impact health or wallet. For any questions about insurance, call anytime for answers.

Watch Out for Deer

 

Fall is here in full effect and Winter is on its way. With the red and golden landscapes, hot cider and crisp air comes an increase in car insurance claims due to animal-related crashes, especially from deer. November is the peak month for deer-related crashes nationally and Virginia leads with the highest number of occurrences. Because of this, the State Corporation Commission’s Bureau of Insurance encourages all drivers to be careful when driving, especially early or late in the day in areas where deer are present.

Virginia State Insurance Commissioner Jacqueline K. Cunningham reports deer mating season and associated movement patterns are the primary reasons for the increase in deer-related car accidents during the Fall season. She encourages Virginia drivers to watch out for any types of wildlife on or near the highway. Cunningham recommends contacting an insurance agent for specific coverage.

Insurance protection from damages related to accidents involving deer or other animals is optional, commonly grouped with other optional collision protection. This includes situations like flooding, fire, theft, and criminal damage. Bear in mind that basic plans for liability protection will not cover damages to a vehicle or occupants caused by collisions with deer or other animals.

At last half of all accidents involving deer occur during the last quarter of the year; the months of October, November, and December. During this time of year, the beautiful changing seasons draw more traffic to scenic wooded locations. At the same time, deer mating seasons leads to a marked increase in activity, while reduced daylight hours limit roadway visibility. All these lead factors and more lead to an increase of vehicles and deer sharing the same stretch of road.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 1.5 million collisions with deer are recorded each year. These lead to a shockingly-high 200 deaths per year, and more than 10,000 injuries of varying degree. These collisions cause monetary damages in excess of over $1 billion annually.

During the Fall, deer are going to be on the roadway. To help decrease the chances of hitting deer while driving, exercise caution while driving through wooded areas. If you spot deer, slow down and be prepared to stop if the deer enter the road. If a collision is unavoidable, stay in the proper lane decrease speed as much as safely possible to limit damage to the vehicles and persons involved. If a deer is struck, call the police and your insurance agent as soon as safe to do so. Take pictures of the crash site, vehicle damage and any damage to the vehicle. In the case a claim is submitted, these will likely help. Check for leaks, tire pressure, light function, and inspect for damage. If the car feels unsafe to drive,c call for a tow.

We’re always looking for good information about insurance subjects that may impact your health and wallet. Reach out any time for any insurance-related questions.

What Flood Insurance Covers

This year, hurricane season struck in full force. Homeowner’s in many states are beginning the long process of rebuilding after the effects of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. For many, this is the first time filing a claim for flood insurance. Often, after a flood homeowners are surprised to find they lack sufficient insurance coverage. Flood insurance is separate from home yet in some Gulf states, only 20% of homes have flood insurance protection.

For homeowners protected by flood insurance, there may yet be gaps in coverage. Protection through the FEMA-controlled National Flood Insurance Program is limited, leaving some homeowner’s holding the bill. Under the National Flood Insurance Program homeowner’s balance coverage and gaps.

Insurance Coverage Under the National Flood Insurance Plan

  • Life Essentials. Systems such as electrical and plumbing, HVAC, sump pumps and similar. This includes covering water and fuel supplies, and solar energy.
  • Home appliances. Integrated appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, and dishwashers are protected, as well as portable AC and refrigeration.
  • Carpeting and window coverings. Installed carpeting, blinds, and drapes are generally covered.
  • Permanently installed additions. Installed cabinets, bookcases, and wall paneling are covered.
  • Foundation support. Walls which anchor the home in place, and structural staircases.
  • Separate garages. Up to 10% of coverage can be directed toward the garage, leaving 90% for the home.
  • Personal effects. Clothing, furniture, and electronics stored above ground. Additional protection for valuables, up to $2500.

Mudslides and other water damage may be covered, depending on the cause. The program covers above-ground pool leaks and burst pipes, yet neglects other damages such as sewage-backups.

Gaps in the National Flood Insurance Program

Gaps in the program mean some things slip through the insurance safety net. Covered areas on the previous list, when underground, in a crawlspace, or in any other excluded area will be left unprotected. The National Flood Insurance Program caps coverage at $250,000 per house. Prepare for different deductible rates for the home and the possessions within.

Obtaining Flood Insurance

Flood insurance policies take effect 30 days after purchase. The same carries for plans through the government or through an insurance agency. Rates for the FEMA program are set by the government, regardless of location. This means homeowner’s in low-risk areas may be paying geographically above-average rates.

A local flood insurance agent will explain the differences in FEMA and private insurance protection as they apply to your area and home. Home elevation, local weather, proximity to water, home age and more all matter when designing a flood insurance policy.

The Right Comprehensive Flood Insurance

More homeowners are turning to private flood insurance through a local agency. Private flood insurance generally has higher coverage amounts with rates matched to the local area. Often, flood insurance comes as a rider with homeowner’s insurance. Depending on location, private flood insurance may be more affordable than insurance through FEMA. Private plans often cover more than government policies, including damage estimation costs and living expenses, during the claims process.

To learn more about flood insurance protection and the policy options available, contact a local agent. Compare all the options based on your specific needs to find the right flood insurance policy fit. 30-day activation periods mean planning ahead makes all the difference. Protect home and property today with flood insurance.

Have a question about flood insurance, or another insurance topic? Contact an agent for more information. Please send in any article topics you’d like to see featured!

In An Auto Accident? Do This

Car accidents happen to new and old drivers alike. Knowing the steps to take following an accident can ease the insurance process and protect drivers from liability. The correct immediate actions can save insurance and personal worries later. These are the steps to take following an auto accident:

1. Be Safe

Before anything, secure the scene. Safety is the top priority. Exiting vehicles, placing flares or cones, or moving off the roadway may be necessary. Exercise judgment. Remain on the shoulder and away from traffic.

2. Assess for Injuries

Following an auto accident, people may be in shock, unaware of injuries. Check the persons involved. Persons with suspected back injuries should remain in place. For those comfortable doing so, apply first aid where necessary. Any medical staff present may be able to assist.

3. Call 911

As soon as possible, call 911. If performing first aid, direct another person to call emergency services. This is also true for car accidents without any injury, as police records may be important. If alone, call 911 quickly.

4. Gather Information

After completing the preliminary steps, gather information for later insurance purposes later. Collect driver information including insurance carriers. Take photos of the scene, vehicles involved, and license plates. Any information regarding first responders may help. These experiences are harrowing; important details may be lost to memory. Write all information down.

5. Cooperate

Accidents may trigger intense emotional responses. Working together with first responders and other drivers helps accomplish more. Medical personnel train for this.

6: Remain Neutral

Discussing the accident, the time period leading up to it, or personal involvement would be a poor decision. The moments immediately following may be the worst time for discussion. Inform police a statement will be available at a later time. For drivers concerned about involvement, a lawyer may be helpful.

7. Stay Silent on Social Media

The urge for talking about a car accident on social media may be strong, yet this is strongly inadvisable. Detectives and lawyers count on this, scouring social media accounts for incriminating information.

Once things settle, contact an insurance agent. The unexpected happens. Prepare with a plan and comprehensive auto insurance. Always a source for great information about auto insurance and other insurance-related topics, contact an agent for insurance questions.

Does my Auto Policy Protect Me in a Rental Car?

Drive it like a rental, right? Only if you have insurance coverage! Renting a car the question comes always up: buy extra insurance with a rental car or pass? Adding insurance to rental cars adds up – up to over $200.00 a week on top of other costs.

Rental car companies are charging for rental damages and repairs using complex agreements. The good news is: you may already have rental car insurance coverage. Before renting a car, check insurance coverage using these three steps:

1. Read Insurance Policy Documents

Owned insurance coverage is the first place to start. Auto insurance policies may include basic coverage for rental car damage. Even without one, short-term policies are available.

When reading an existing auto policy, ask the following questions:

  • Is there rental car coverage? The first thing to know before moving on.
  • What is my deductible? Often the same as your personal vehicle, but good check.
  • Does my policy cover accidents, fire, theft, and vandalism? Agencies typically require this coverage.
  • Does my policy include rental cars for business travel? If you’re at work or on vacation matters – make sure you’re covered. Your company policy may cover you in event of business travel.
  • Does my auto policy cover extra fees and charges by the rental agency? Towing costs, mileage, decreased value and others add up!
  • Does my car insurance plan pay for the actual value of a rental car? There’s coverage and there’s adequate coverage. Make sure you aren’t going to be left holding a bill.

After reviewing your policy you may find you’re covered, or you might still have gaps to fill. Oftentimes, credit card companies include rental coverage with cardholder benefits. The next place to check for rental car coverage is a credit card issuer.

2. Check Your Credit Card Benefits

Major credit card issuers cover rental car insurance costs within benefits programs. Coverage varies depending on the issuing agency. Some cover varies expenses and fees issued by the rental car company.

Before checking this box, confirm with the credit card company. The largest issuing companies are available using the following toll-free numbers:

  • American Express: 800-338-1670
  • Discover: 800-347-2683;
  • MasterCard: 800-622-7747
  • Visa: 800-847-2911

Rental car insurance coverage through a credit card agency works along with auto insurance coverage, covering the leftovers. The credit card must be used to pay for the rental, for benefits to be available. The cardholder must be the person driving the rental. Credit card companies do not cover all losses, and exotic or luxury rental cars are usually excluded.

After reviewing options through credit card agencies the process is near complete. Before accepting or declining the rental agency insurance, the last step is to read the fine print.

3. Review the Car Rental Agreement

Rental car companies train their staff to make their auto insurance coverage feel mandatory. When reviewing your agreement, take the time to review the fine print. The agreement will state your liability, and where the company takes responsibility. States require rental agencies to provide coverage of differing levels. If using a credit card to rent your vehicle you may already have adequate coverage.

If planning on taking a rental across any state or international borders, be sure to check coverage. State requirements mean coverage changes when crossing over. Personal coverage is not valid in Mexico or other countries (except Canada, usually).

All this considered coverage may leave gaps. Unlicensed drivers, driving on unpaved roads or off-road, racing, DUI and more can all complicate car rental insurance coverage. Vacation is supposed to be fun. Take the worry away with affordable insurance coverage. Contact an agent today about car rental insurance for the next road trip!

Always on the lookout for great information about insurance topics that may impact health and wallet! For any insurance-related questions be sure to call.

Building a Home or Remodeling Get Builders Risk!

 

Nearly every homeowner insures their home against fire, burglary, and the usual risks. The catch? Often, their insurance only covers completed structures. Home construction and remodels aren’t typically covered under standard home insurance policies. If you’re planning to build or renovate on your property, consider builders risk insurance.

What is builders risk insurance

Builders risk insurance policies extend property insurance coverage to include renovations and new builds. Builders risk policies are available for both commercial and residential insurance customers. Your new build faces many of the same risks as your home or business. Insuring against physical loss protects your investment.

What it covers

Builders risk plan coverage ranges depending on the business or home. Typical plans include protection against weather damage, vandalism, and theft. Plans general include all protections but can be tailored to provide specific types of coverage. Faulty workmanship by a licensed contractor may be an example of extra insurance coverage desired.

Why you need it

If you’re planning to build on your property you may need builders risk insurance. Oftentimes city and county codes require you obtain coverage prior to construction. Contractors will not always foot the bill. Homeowners can suffer delays if contractors do not carry builders risk. In many cases, construction cannot begin until the project is insured. Homeowners may wish to carry their own policy regardless to exercise more control over any potential claims.

What you need to know

In some situations, builders insurance may be your only protection. In Texas, for example, builders are not forced to back their work financially – but insurance will. In areas prone to flooding, earthquakes, or other natural disasters ensure contractors are familiar local FEMA regulations.

Protect your property

Construction authorization is required in most Texas cities. The Texas floodplain includes areas unfit for construction. It is imperative contractors check FEMA maps before construction permits are sought. It is recommended homeowners and business owners check maps as well. The best guarantee is always seeking the services of a reputable contractor. No agreement is strong enough to fix poor work.

Contact an agent

Discover whether your construction project has insurance coverage. Plans can be created for to cover many aspects of your build – including loan payback. Talk to your insurance provider today to learn more.

We love information on insurance topics and ideas with a bearing on your health and finances. Please share any topics you find interesting. Contact us for all matters related to general, personal, business and home insurance. We will be more than happy to assist you.

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