Insurance in Fort Walton Beach

Keep your summer carefree with insurance from Dan Sullivan Insurance in Fort Walton Beach. We can cover your boat, jet ski, vacation home and more! Give us a call today.

Property insurance as we know it today can be traced to the Great Fire of London, which in 1666 devoured more than 13,000 houses. The devastating effects of the fire converted the development of insurance “from a matter of convenience into one of urgency, a change of opinion reflected in Sir Christopher Wren’s inclusion of a site for ‘the Insurance Office’ in his new plan for London in 1667”. A number of attempted fire insurance schemes came to nothing, but in 1681, economist Nicholas Barbon and eleven associates established the first fire insurance company, the “Insurance Office for Houses”, at the back of the Royal Exchange to insure brick and frame homes. Initially, 5,000 homes were insured by his Insurance Office.

Preventing Vehicle-related Injuries for Teens

  

THE TOPIC

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15- to 20-year olds, according to most recent data (2009) from the National Center for Health Statistics. Immaturity and lack of driving experience are the two main factors leading to the high crash rate among teens. Teens’ lack of experience affects their recognition of and response to hazardous situations and results in dangerous practices such as speeding and tailgating.

Other major contributing factors to the higher crash risk of young drivers are night driving and teen passengers. Teenagers are involved in more motor vehicle crashes late in the day and at night than at other times of the day. Teens also have a greater chance of getting involved in an accident if other teens are present in the vehicle, according to research from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm.

Graduated drivers license (GDL) laws, which include a three-phase program that allows teen drivers to develop more mature driving attitudes and gain experience behind the wheel, have been successful in reducing teen motor vehicle accidents. In 1996 Florida became the first state to enact a GDL law. Every state now has a GDL law. North Dakota’s law, the last to be enacted, went into effect January 1, 2012.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

  • Most American teenagers are delaying getting their drivers licenses, according to an August 2013 study conducted by theAAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. According to the report, fewer than half (44 percent) of teens get their license within 12 months of the minimum age for licensing in their state. About half (54 percent) were licensed before their 18th birthday. Two decades ago, more than two-thirds of teens had drivers licenses by the time they turned 18. Among the reasons given for the delay were that gas and other driving costs were too expensive (36 percent each); they could get around without driving (39 percent); and they did not have a car (44 percent). While few teens said they waited until age 18 to avoid having to participate in graduated drivers license programs (GDL), these findings raise concerns that young drivers will become licensed without the benefit of the training and point to the need to modify the laws to include 18-year olds.
  • A State Farm survey released in September 2013 found that teen drivers and their parents have widely different view of teens’ compliance with GDL laws. The survey found that 87 percent of parents think teens will obey GDL laws but that only 56 percent of teens think they will. In particular, 66 percent of parents said they almost always monitor whether their teenage children follow the rules governing driving at night, while 32 percent of teens say they do. Sixty-five percent of parents say they keep track of teen passengers, while only 27 percent of teens say they do. The situation concerning texting laws was markedly better: 82 percent of parents say their teens almost always obey texting laws, while 72 percent of teens say they do.
  • The National Institutes of Health and the Virginia Transportation Institute found that crashes and near crashes are more common during the first six months of independent driving among young drivers than in the following year. Previous studies had shown that teen crash rates decline quickly as young drivers become experienced, but the joint study, released in December 2011, was the first to use in-vehicle monitoring to confirm the trend. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the study tracked 42 newly licensed 16-year olds with cameras, sensors and computers. Of the total 40 crashes and 279 near crashes recorded by all of the drivers of the monitored vehicles (including parents) during an 18-month period, teenagers had 13.3 crashes or near crashes per 16,000 kilometers in the first six months. This fell to 8.5 in the following 12 months. The teen crash rate averaged about 10 per 16,000 kilometers during the entire 18 months compared with 2 for the parents.
  • Crash Facts: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 1,875 drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 died in motor vehicle crashes in 2012 (latest data available), down 6 percent from 1,993 in 2011. An additional 184,000 young drivers were injured in 2012.
  • Drivers age 15 to 20 accounted for 9 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2012 and 13 percent of all drivers involved in police-reported crashes. The number of drivers age 15 to 20 involved in fatal crashes totaled 4,283 in 2012, down 46 percent from the 7,937 involved in 2003.
  • Twenty-eight percent of drivers age 15 to 20 who were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2012 had been drinking some amount of alcohol; 24 percent were alcohol-impaired, which is defined by a blood alcohol content of 0.08 grams per deciliter or higher.

BACKGROUND

Graduated Drivers License Programs: Young drivers account for a disproportionate number of motor vehicle crashes. In order to control this problem, each state has now adapted one or more element of a graduated drivers license (GDL) system, which requires a more rigorous learning period before granting young people between the ages of 15 and 18 a drivers license with full privileges. Graduated licensing as defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration consists of three stages. Stage 1 (learners permit) requirements and recommendations include a vision test, a road knowledge test, driving accompanied by a licensed adult, seatbelt use by all vehicle occupants, a zero BAC level, and six months with no crashes or convictions for traffic violations. Stage 2 (intermediate license) includes the completion of Stage 1, a behind-the-wheel road test, advanced driver education training, driving accompanied by a licensed adult at night, and 12 consecutive months with no crashes or convictions for traffic offenses before reaching Stage 3 (full license).

Effectiveness of Graduated Drivers License (GDL) Programs: Studies dating back to the late 1990s attribute reductions in teen crash deaths to GDL programs. Some of the latest studies showed the following:

  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) said in May 2012 the death rate fell 68 percent for 16-year old drivers from 1996 to 2010. Among older teenagers the death rate fell 59 percent for 17-year olds, and 52 percent and 47 percent for 18- and 19-year olds, respectively, during the same period. The IIHS attributes the declines to the adoption of GDL laws and says that if every state adopted all five of the toughest laws that it had identified, about 500 lives could be saved and 9,500 collisions prevented each year. The five most effective laws are a minimum permit age of 16, a minimum intermediate license age of 17, at least 65 hours of supervised practice driving, restrictions on night driving that begin at 8 pm and banning all teen passengers.
  • A 34 percent decrease in teenagers killed in motor vehicle crashes in Colorado in 2007, compared with 2006, and a 60 percent decrease from 2002, when teen crash deaths were at an all-time high. Officials cited the passage of GDL laws and later laws enacted to strengthen them for the reduction along with safe driving education programs and the enforcement of seatbelt laws. 
  • A decrease of about one-third in hospitalizations and hospital costs for 16-year-old drivers in North Carolina in the 46 months after the state’s GDL laws went into effect in 1997. The lead author of the study (sponsored by State Farm Insurance Company and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and released in January 2007) said that the findings suggest that the reductions result from 16-year olds driving less rather than from improvements in their driving skills. A 2001 study based on crash data found that there had been a 57 percent drop in fatal accidents involving 16-year olds since the law went into effect. 
  • A reduction in the incidence of fatal crashes for 16-year-old drivers of an average of 11 percent. When states had comprehensive GDL programs, those with at least five of the most important elements in effect, there was a 20 percent reduction in fatal crashes involving 16-year-old drivers. In states that had six or seven components, fatal crashes fell 21 percent. The findings were reported in a study released in 2006 from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Researchers examined fatal crash data from the 36 states that had GDL programs and from seven states that did not.

Florida was the first state to adopt a GDL program in 1996. GDLs have also reduced deaths among teenage drivers in New Zealand, Australia and Canada, where versions of the system exist. The first long-term study to investigate the benefits of each licensing stage, a 2002 study conducted in Nova Scotia, concluded that crash reductions among young beginning drivers occur in both the learner and intermediate stages. The study, “Specific and Long-term Effects of Nova Scotia’s Graduated Licensing Program,” marks the first six months of the learner stage as the most significant period of crash reductions. For beginning drivers who got their learners permit at 16-or 17-years old, crashes declined 51 percent. During the intermediate stage, when drivers are allowed to drive unsupervised except late at night, crashes were reduced by 9 percent in the first year and 11 percent in the second year. Crash rates increased by 4 percent, however, during the first year after the drivers graduated to full license status. Nova Scotia’s GDL program was adopted in 1994, before many U.S. states began adopting the system.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) said in May 2012 the death rate fell 68 percent for 16-year old drivers from 1996 to 2010.  Among older teenagers the death rate fell 59 percent for 17-year olds, and 52 percent and 47 percent for 18- and 19-year olds, respectively, during the same period. The IIHS attributes the declines to the adoption of GDL laws and says that if every state adopted all five of the toughest laws that it had identified, about 500 lives could be saved and 9,500 collisions prevented each year.  The five most effective laws are a minimum permit age of 16, a minimum intermediate license age of 17, at least 65 hours of supervised practice driving, restrictions on night driving that begin at 8 pm and banning all teen passengers.

Effects of Graduated Drivers License (GDL) Restrictions: Research shows that when teenage drivers transport teen passengers there is a greatly increased crash risk. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a report in May 2012 that showed that the risk of 16- or 17-year old drivers being killed in a crash increases with each additional teenage passenger in the vehicle. The risk increases 44 percent with one passenger; it doubles with two passengers and quadruples with three or more passengers. The study analyzed crash data and the number of miles driven by 16- and 17-year olds.

According to a March 2008 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report, when there are multiple passengers in vehicles driven by teen drivers, the crash risk is three to five times greater than when driving alone. The risk is greatest for the youngest drivers (age 16 and 17). In California, Massachusetts and Virginia passenger restrictions have reduced crashes among 16-year-old drivers. Crash involvement per 1,000 16-year-old drivers fell from 1.07 to 0.85 in California after passenger restrictions were passed. The reduction was from 0.88 to 0.61 in Massachusetts and from 1.41 to 1.10 in Virginia. Earlier studies by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the National Institutes of Health also found that restricting passengers lowered the numbers of crashes and other behaviors such as speeding.

A 2008 study conducted by former Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) chief scientist Allan Williams found that raising the age at which drivers are licensed would save lives. The study, highlighted in a September 2008 report by the IIHS, focused on driving age and rules in different countries. The study found that raising the driving age would substantially reduce crashes involving teenage drivers in the United States, where most states permit driving at about age 16. New Jersey is the only state in which drivers have to be 17 to get a license.

Cellphones: Safety experts say that using a cellphone while driving is a major distraction and is a significant factor in crashes (see Distracted Driving paper).

Twelve states—California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Washington State, West Virginia—and the District of Columbia have a law banning the use of hand-held cellphones behind the wheel for all drivers. The use of all cellphones by novice drivers is restricted in 37 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Washington State was the first state to ban the practice of “texting” with a cellphone while driving. Text messaging is banned for all drivers in 43 states and the District of Columbia. Novice drivers are specifically banned from texting in four states. (See chart below: State Young Driver Laws; also http://www.iihs.org).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, released in June 2014, shows that about 41.4 percent of high school students reported that they texted or emailed from behind the wheel at least once during the previous 30 days. The highest rate of texting or emailing while driving, 61.3 percent, was among teens in South Dakota. The lowest rate, 32.3 percent, was among teens in Massachusetts. The survey is conducted every two years, but this year was the first time the 13,000 participants were asked about texting and emailing while driving.

In March 2012 the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released “Distracted Driving Among Newly Licensed Teen Drivers,” an in-car video study that found that teenage girls are twice as likely as teenage boys to use cellphones and other electronic devices while driving.  The study also found that teenage female drivers were almost 10 percent more likely to engage in other distracted behaviors such as reaching for an object (nearly 50 percent more likely than males) and eating or drinking (almost 25 percent more likely). By contrast teenage male drivers were about twice as likely to turn around in their seats and were also more likely to communicate with people outside of the vehicle.

Speeding: According to NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis, among drivers involved in fatal crashes, young males are the most likely to be speeding. In 2011, 39 percent of male drivers age 15 to 20 who were involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash; 37 percent of male drivers in the 21-to 24-year old age group involved in fatal crashes were speeding.

Drunk Driving: Underage drinking remains a factor in teenage highway fatalities. Twenty-eight percent of drivers age 15 to 20 who were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2012 had been drinking some amount of alcohol; 24 percent were alcohol-impaired, which is defined by a blood alcohol content of 0.08 grams per deciliter or higher, according to NHTSA. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that numerous studies since the 1970s show that when the drinking age is lowered, more people die in crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 533 lives of young people ages 18, 19 and 20 were saved by the minimum drinking age laws in 2011. Since 1975 about 28,765 lives have been saved by these laws.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study in October 2012 that showed that the percentage of young drivers who drink and drive has been reduced by half in two decades. The CDC said that in 2011, 10.3 percent of high school students age 16 and older reported drinking and driving in the previous 30 days, compared with 22.3 percent in 1991. The agency said the 54 percent decline was the result of stricter drunk driving laws and laws that restrict the hours teens can drive, along with a decline in driving itself, possibly due to the economy and higher gasoline prices. However, despite the decrease, nearly a million high school students admitted they consumed alcohol before driving in 2011.

According to NHTSA, drivers are less likely to use restraints when they have been drinking. In 2012, 55 percent of the young drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes who had been drinking were unrestrained. Of the young drivers who had been drinking and were killed in crashes, 71 percent were unrestrained. In comparison, 49 percent of the non-drinking young drivers killed were unrestrained.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is one organization that has combated this problem for more than 20 years. It has been instrumental in organizing various campaigns to educate the public about the effects of driving while intoxicated. In addition, some insurance companies have sponsored initiatives and events that discourage underage drinking and drunk driving.

Seatbelt Use: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), tracks seatbelt use based on the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), which observes occupants driving through intersections controlled by stop signs or stop lights. The 2012  survey found that 80 percent of passenger vehicle occupants age 16 to 24 used seat belts, about the same rate as in 2011 (79  percent). Seatbelt usage was lowest in this age group.

Teenagers are less likely to wear safety belts even when their parents do, according to a survey conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released in 2002. The report found that 46 percent of the teenagers who were dropped off at school by their parents were not wearing safety belts and in 8 percent of cases teens were using safety belts while the adult driver was not. The survey, conducted at 12 high schools in Connecticut and Massachusetts, focused on four groups: teen drivers, teen passengers in vehicles with teen drivers, teen passengers with adult drivers and adult drivers.

Distracted Driving: According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, in 2012, 10 percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years old  involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the crash. Among the distracted drivers 15 to 19 years old, 19 percent were distracted by the use of cellphones at the time of the crash.

Auto Insurance Premium Discounts: Rates for auto insurance for teenage drivers are always higher than for other drivers because as a group they pose a higher risk of accidents than more experienced drivers. Adding a teenager to an insurance policy can mean a 50 percent or even a 100 percent increase in the parents’ insurance premium. Some insurance companies offer discounts for students with good grades. The Good Student Discount is generally available to students who have a grade point average of a B or higher. Many companies offer programs that foster safe driving habits, such as online safety courses for young drivers and parents, contracts between young drivers and parents, educational videos and practice driving logs.

Insurance companies are also helping to reduce the number of accidents involving teen drivers by subsidizing the cost of electronic devices that parents can install in their cars to monitor the way teens drive and by offering discounts to policyholders with teens who use these devices. The American Family Insurance Company has supplied at least 2,000 families with a DriveCam video camera that alerts parents when a teen driver makes a driving error. The program includes discounts for families that use the camera, which is free for the first year. The camera is operated by an independent company that provides weekly reports for parents. 21st Century (Zurich) and Safeco Insurance (Liberty Mutual) use global positioning systems (GPS) to monitor teen drivers. 21st Century’s free GPS works with a program that allows parents to be alerted by email or text message if their children exceed preset boundaries on speeding, distance or time. Safeco’s GPS lets parents monitor their teen drivers in real time. Progressive’s MyRate program, which can be used by all drivers, uses a black box to record speed, braking, time of day and distance driven. The information is evaluated for discounts.

Auto makers and others also offer tools for parents to monitor their children’s driving. Ford’s MyKey system allows a parent to program a car key to limit the top speed of a car and the audio volume and a feature that sends cellphone calls to voice mail and blocks text alerts. Infiniti’s Connection can set geographic limits that alert the parent when a boundary is crossed; GM’s OnStar has a service that lets vehicle owners see the location of their vehicle on an online map and get alerts on its location at specified times. Allstate offers Star Driver, a smartphone app that has a driving agreement between young drivers and parents that sets parameters for when, where and how fast the teen is allowed to drive, with alerts for parents of teens who overstep these parameters. Courtesy of iii.org.

Ebola Outbreak Strains Sequenced

Current Situation

  • As of October 10, the Ebola virus has infected at least 8,399 people and killed 4,035, according to the World Health Organization. This includes 4,762 confirmed cases, 2,196 probable cases and 1,652 suspected cases.[1]
  • As of October 10, all but four of the cases were in four countries in Africa (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria). One was in Senegal, one in Spain, and (as of October 12) two in the United States.
  • There are five known strains of the Ebola virus. The one causing the illness and deaths noted above is the Zaire strain, which was identified in 1976.
  • There is currently no cure and no vaccine for this virus. Treatment is isolation (to prevent spread) and focus on symptoms—mainly dialysis and fluids to prevent dehydration and reduce fever.
  • The mortality rate of infected people to date is roughly 50 percent.
  • Unlike influenza viruses, the Ebola virus is transmitted only by contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids (e.g., blood, saliva, sweat, diarrhea, vomit, etc.) during the incubation period or shortly thereafter. Contact with the fluids could be from contact with sheets, mattresses, medical equipment or any other surface to which the fluids were transferred.

Expected Near-term Health-care Situation

  • In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not expect the Ebola virus to infect people other than a small number of health-care workers and others who have had direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.
  • However, the CDC is investigating the confirmed case (on October 12) of a health-care worker in Dallas who had treated an infected person, because it does not know how the health-care worker acquired the virus, and this might suggest weaknesses in the isolation/prevention protocols.

Worst Case Scenario

If the number of cases in Africa continues on its exponential ascent, the number of people who might carry the virus elsewhere around the world will also grow. The number of cases in Africa is likely to grow if isolation of the sick, tracking their contacts, and careful procedures followed by health-care workers, proves to be inadequate. An especially concerning scenario is the travel of infected people from Africa to India,

China or other heavily populated countries, where there are billions of people living in many densely-populated cities with relatively weak health-care systems.

Another element of a worst-case scenario would be screening systems at U.S. and other ports of entry that are ineffective in identifying people carrying the virus. This was how both the U.S. and Spanish cases gained entry into their respective countries. If improvements in screening are not completely effective, additional infected individuals could enter countries around the world, potentially leading to the spread of Ebola in the developed world and beyond.

Another threat is the possibility that the virus could mutate into one that is more virulent—producing a higher death rate. This might also increase the ease of spread of the virus.

Effect on the Life and Health Insurance Industries

  • The effects on the Life and Health insurance industries will clearly depend on whether the infected people are insured. Some of those who have died up to now were children and almost certainly did not have life insurance.
  • Even if the Ebola virus spreads to infect tens or even hundreds of thousands of adults in Africa, it is not likely to trigger many life insurance or health insurance claims there. Life insurance coverage in the three most affected countries—Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone—is extremely low. Indeed, in Swiss Re’s most recent report on life premiums per capita (for 2013), the calculation for all three of these countries is so small that none makes the list.
  • Even in the unlikely event that the Ebola virus spreads to infect tens of thousands of adults in the United States, the financial impact will likely be quite manageable. This is because perhaps one-third of adults in the U.S. have life insurance only through their employment, and the amount is typically equal to one year’s income. Another one-third have individual life insurance, with the average death benefit in the $200,000 range. In a typical year life insurers pay about 2 million death claims, so another 100,000 would be only 5 percent more than typical. Moreover, most life insurers are well capitalized, and even the largest life insurers have reinsurance to prevent a surge in death claims from imperiling their solvency, so that the net effect would likely be, at most, a reduction in the profit they would otherwise record.
  • The cost of caring for Ebola cases would likely be at the high end of health insurance claims, and the effect on health insurers would depend on the number of people suspected of being infected. Many people would need to be tested to see whether they have contracted the virus, and the cost of isolation of those affected could be substantial. Note that some individuals may have no health insurance, as was the case with the index (first) patient who died of Ebola at a Dallas hospital on October 8. In such cases, treatment costs will likely be borne outside the private health insurance system.

Effect on the Property/Casualty Insurance Industry

  • The main effect on the Property/Casualty insurance industry would likely be on companies writing Workers Compensation insurance because health-care workers could be most directly exposed (as happened in Texas and in several African countries). Workers Compensation pays for the cost of medical care and lost income for people who become ill in the course of their work, and pays death benefits if they die from a work-related cause. As with life insurance, it is unlikely that many workers in the main affected African countries have workers compensation-type coverages; the latest Swiss Re report indicates that the level of premiums per capita for all non-life insurance coverages combined (not just Workers Compensation) in the three most-affected countries is so low as to not be listed. In the United States, in contrast, Workers Compensation coverage is nearly universal, but the likelihood of claims is low, assuming that employers and their workers take CDC-recommended precautions. As with life insurance coverage, reinsurance will help mitigate the financial effect of a surge in claims, which are likely to be very costly in the event of actual work-related infections.
  • Other possible effects might be on various liability insurance lines. These include General Liability, Directors & Officers (D&O) Liability and Medical Malpractice (Med Mal) Liability. General liability and D&O claims might be filed asserting that the policyowner was negligent in failing to prevent transmission of the virus. For example, a claim might be filed alleging negligent disposal of contaminated waste, pursuing either General Liability or Med Mal recovery. Med Mal claims might assert that proper medical protocols were not followed, resulting in infection by the Ebola virus, or that the disease was not properly diagnosed or diagnosed in a timely manner or that the treatment protocol itself and/or care rendered was somehow negligent. At this stage it is impossible to forecast the precise number of such claims or the amounts of damages that might be sought. That said, assuming the CDC’s protocols are successfully followed, the number of Ebola cases should be small, thereby limiting the number and likelihood of tort actions that can impact various liability coverages.
Courtesy of iii.org.

Security Solutions Throughout your Home

When was the last time you tested your home’s fire alarm? If you can’t remember, then it’s time to do it. Put your fire alarms to the test today. Please?

This is Fire Prevention Week.  And, it’s one of those times when you really need to take action. It’s great if you have fire alarms in your home, and it’s not great if they are inoperable. As the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says, “Working fire alarms save lives.”

The NFPA has a fire prevention quiz that is enlightening. Okay, I’m giving you the answers to the quiz, but this is a test worthy of a cheat sheet. Did you know that if a smoke alarm fails, it’s likely because of dead batteries or because batteries were not properly installed? Other important lessons:

  • Three out of every five fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
  • Many of today’s fabrics and products are MORE flammable.
  • Old fire alarms need to retire.

If you have fire alarms manufactured more than 10 years ago, you need new ones. And yes, you need multiples. There should be a fire alarm outside every sleeping area. Having an functioning smoke detector is essential.

Forget the flowers and chocolates. Be practical. Buy every loved one a smoke alarm! While it would be ideal if they never have an opportunity to be reminded about who sent such a gift, it’s better knowing a smoke alarm is standing guard. courtesy of .insuringflorida.org.

Lightning Safety Awareness Week

Lightning Coverage and Safety

Lightning Safety

Damage caused by lightning, such as fire, is covered by standard homeowners and business insurance policies. Some home and business insurance policies provide coverage for power surges that are the direct result of lightning striking a home or business. There is also coverage for lightning damage under the comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy.

With the explosion in the number and value of consumer electronics in homes, such as flat screen TVs, home entertainment centers, multiple computers, gaming systems and other expensive devices, it is more important than ever to take precautions.

Preventing Losses

The I.I.I. offers the following tips to protect homes and businesses against power surges and lightning strikes: 

1. Install a lightning protection system. A lightning protection system supplies structural protection by providing a specified path on which lightning can travel. When a building is equipped with a lightning protection system, the destructive power of the lightning strike is directed safely into the ground, leaving the structure and its contents undamaged. The system includes a lightning rod or air terminals at the top of the house that can be disguised to look like a weather vane and wires to carry the current down to grounding rods at the bottom of the house. According to the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), the lightning protection system needs to be securely anchored to the roof; otherwise it may whip around in a storm and damage the building. So make sure to have a licensed electrician install your lightning rod and protection system.

2. Use surge protectors. Today’s sensitive electronic equipment is particularly vulnerable to lightning. To assure the highest level of protection, UL-listed surge arrestors should be installed on electrical service panels. Installations typically include surge arrestors for the main electric panel, as well as incoming phone, cable, satellite and data lines. Surge arrestors protect against damaging electrical surges that can enter a structure via power transmission lines. By filtering and dissipating the harmful surges, arrestors prevent electrical fires and protect against electrical discharges that can damage a building’s electrical system, computers, appliances and other systems. UL-listed transient voltage surge suppressors can also be installed to protect specific pieces of electronic equipment. Keep in mind that power strips offer little protection from electrical power surges.

3. Unplug expensive electronic equipment. As an added precaution, unplug expensive electronic equipment such as TVs, computers and the like if you know a storm is approaching.

Do’s and Don’ts for Lightning Safety

1. When Thunder Roars…GO INDOORS! Take shelter in a home, large building or substantial fully enclosed building, preferably protected with a lightning protection system. Hard topped-vehicles are generally safe shelters, as well.
2. Avoid areas where you will be the highest object. If you are caught in an open field with no nearby shelter, and your hair begins to stand on end (an indication that lightning is about to strike) drop down and crouch with hands on knees, rocking up on the balls of your feet. (The idea is to make as little contact with the ground as possible.) Never lie down flat or place your hands on the ground. 
3. Certain locations are extremely hazardous during thunderstorms. Avoid lakes, beaches or open water, fishing from a boat or dock, riding on golf carts, farm equipment, motor cycles or bicycles. Take shelter in tunnels, subways, even ditches or caves if necessary—but never under a tree!
4. If caught on high ground or in an open area, seek shelter in a low area and stay away from trees. A small grove of bushes or shrubs is preferable to lone trees.
5. To avoid side flashes (voltage from a nearby struck object) stay clear of fences or isolated trees. Keep away from telephone poles, power lines, pipelines or other electrically conductive objects. 

6. Stay off the telephone! In your home, don’t stand near open windows, doorways or metal piping. Stay away from the TV, plumbing, sinks, tubs, radiators and stoves. Avoid contact with small electric appliances such as radios, toasters and hairdryers.

Read More at III.org

Grilling Safety

        Grilling Safety

Safe Summer

Americans enjoy more than three billion barbecues each year. But barbecuing can be dangerous, even deadly, if you are not careful.

The following tips can make your grilling experience safer:

  1. When ready to barbecue, protect yourself by wearing a heavy apron and an oven mitt that fits high up over your forearm.
  2. With gas grills, make sure the gas cylinder is always stored outside and away from your house. Make sure the valves are turned off when you are not using them. Check regularly for leaks in the connections using a soap and water mix that will show bubbles where gas escapes.
  3. Barbecue grills should be kept on a level surface away from the house, garage, landscaping, and most of all, children.
  4. For charcoal grills, only use starter fluids designed for those grills. Never use gasoline and use a limited amount of starter fluid. If the fire is too slow, rekindle with dry kindling and add more charcoal if necessary. Never add more liquid fuel or you could end up with a flash fire.
  5. Be sure to soak the coals with water before you put them in the trash.
  6. Always remember that grills remain hot long after you are through barbecuing.

In Case Of An Emergency

If you get burned, run cool water over the injury for 10–15 minutes. Never put butter or salve on burns because they will seal in the heat and cause further blistering. If you receive a serious burn the sooner you get medical attention the better. For more summer safety tips, visit III.org

Happy 2014!

Best Insurance Agent Fort Walton Beach

Are you renting a car this summer? read this..

Tips on renting a car and your insurance, very informative!

courtesy of