Gap Insurance and You

Courtesy of iii.org

How gap insurance works

When you buy or lease a new car or truck, the vehicle starts to depreciate in value the moment it leaves the car lot. In fact, most cars lose 20 percent of their value within a year. Standard auto insurance policies cover the depreciated value of a car—in other words, a standard policy pays the current market value of the vehicle at the time of a claim.

If, when you finance the purchase of a new car and put down only a small deposit, in the early years of the vehicle’s ownership the amount of the loan may exceed the market value of the vehicle itself.

In the event of an accident in which you’ve badly damaged or totaled your car, gap insurance covers the difference between what a vehicle is currently worth (which your standard insurance will pay) and the amount you actually owe on it.

When you might need gap insurance

It’s a good idea to consider buying gap insurance for your new car or truck purchase if you:

  • Made less than a 20 percent down payment
  • Financed for 60 months or longer
  • Leased the vehicle (carrying gap insurance is generally required for a lease)
  • Purchased a vehicle that depreciates faster than the average
  • Rolled over negative equity from an old car loan into the new loan

Where you can get gap insurance

Your car dealer may offer to sell you gap insurance on your new vehicle. However, most car insurers also offer it, and they typically charge less than the dealer. On most auto insurance policies, including gap insurance with collision and comprehensive coverage adds only about $20 a year to the annual premium.

 

Do You Need Insurance Protection?

Courtesy of iii.org

June weather in New York City can be fickle. As the I.I.I.’s own Brent Carris reported, this fickleness can lead to chaos for the city’s outdoor music festivals, like the recent fiasco at this year’s Gov Ball. Carris noted that event organizers will often have event cancellation insurance to protect themselves financially.

But this got me thinking: is there rain insurance?

Weather insurance

The answer: yes, actually. It’s usually called “weather insurance” – and covers financial losses resulting from adverse weather, including rain. Typically, weather insurance is useful if you’re planning an outdoor event, like a wedding or a bar mitzvah. Commercial events can also buy this insurance, like fairs or festivals.

According to Trusted Choice, weather insurance is often tailored to a specific event’s needs. For example, a sailing regatta in San Francisco might want to be covered for excessive fog, whereas a baseball tournament in Arizona might want to be covered for extreme temperatures. Of course, these covered perils can be combined: it gets hot in southern Florida and rains a lot, so you might want to cover your golf tournament for both high temperatures and precipitation. Plus, you know, hurricanes.

How the coverage gets triggered also depends on the event: one-day events might want their policies to kick in if a certain amount of rain falls over a certain amount of time. Other events that last multiple days or weeks might want the trigger to be if rainfall or temperatures exceed their averages during the policy period.

Special event insurance

Okay, cool, that means I can protect myself in case I have to cancel my invitational street hockey tournament. But what if I have to cancel or postpone for non-weather reasons? That’s where “special event insurance” comes in. It’s broader than just plain weather insurance and will cover other causes of cancellation.

In the case of a wedding, special event insurance can cover cancellation due to, among other things: death or illness of a key participant, or if the bride or grooms is suddenly called to military duty. You can also cover your gifts in case they’re stolen or damaged. You can even cover your losses if one of your third-party providers can’t uphold their promises to you. For example, you could be covered if the bridal salon goes out of business and you have to get a dress somewhere else, or the photographer fails to show up and you need to deputize your cousins to take pictures with their smartphones.

Ticket insurance

It’s not just event organizers who can get insurance protection, though. There are also products to protect attendees. For example, Allianz calls its product “Global Assistance Event Ticket Protector Insurance,” which roughly translates into English as “ticket insurance”.

According to the Ticketmaster website, this insurance will reimburse you 100 percent of your ticket (including taxes and shipping) if any of a long list of things happens that prevents you from enjoying your event. Illness or serious injury, for example. Military duty is also covered (who knew there was such a high risk of someone being whisked away to military duty on short notice?). You’ll also be covered if a traffic accident keeps you from getting to the venue, or if your plane is delayed getting in.

However, being lazy is not a covered cause of loss: “Please note that no benefits will be extended for cancellations due to simply changing your mind.”

Homeowners Insurance & Grilling Safety

Courtesy of
https://www.iii.org/article/8-auto-insurance-myths

Millions of Americans safely enjoy outdoor barbecues, but accidents do happen. Ensure trouble-free summer cooking fun by maintaining your grill, using it safely and knowing what to do in case of emergency.


Hot to handle

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, about 5,700 grill fires take place on residential property every year, most caused by malfunctioning gas grills. These fires cause an annual average of $37 million in damage, 100 injuries and 10 fatalities. In addition, thousands more people visit emergency rooms every year because they have burned themselves while barbecuing.

In the rare instance of a grill fire spreading to your property, your homeowners insurance provides financial protection, as fire is a covered peril. A standard policy covers:

  • Damage to the house itself
  • Damage to personal possessions, such as lawn furniture
  • Damage to insured structures on your property, such as a shed or gazebo
  • Injuries to a guest, under the liability portion of the policy

Of course, the best way to enjoy a summer of outdoor barbecues is to take steps to prevent accidents, and take fast action should any occur.

Properly maintain and store your grill

Gas grills are generally safe if they are properly designed and constructed, properly maintained and regularly checked for leaks. Follow these safety tips when setting up at the start of each grilling season:

  • Search the Consumer Product Safety Commission website to make sure there has not been a recall on your model grill.
  • Check grill hoses for cracks, holes and brittleness.
  • Check for blockages, especially in the Venturi tube that runs to the burners. These can be caused by food drippings, spiders or insects. Clear any blockages with a wire or pipe cleaner.
  • Check for leaks by running a solution of one part liquid soap, one part water along hoses and on connections. Open the valve at your tank and check to make sure that gas isn’t escaping, which will be indicated by bubbles at the leaking points.
  • Adjust hoses away from hot areas or where grease might drip on them.
  • Cover your grill when cooled and not in use to help protect its parts from inclement weather, falling leaves, and insect activity.
  • Store propane tanks outside, away from your house. Always check to make sure valves are firmly turned off.

 

Practice safe barbeque habits

When barbecuing, use common sense:

  • Operate your barbecue on a level surface, away from your house, garage and landscaping.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and let everyone know where it is and how to operate it.
  • Don’t move the grill once it is lit.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill.
  • Protect yourself—or whoever is doing the grilling—with a heavy apron and oven mitts that reach high on the forearm. Use very long-handled utensils designed for barbecuing.
  • Use only lighter fluid designed for grilling when charcoal grilling. Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids, and never add more lighter fluid once the fire has started.
  • Never grill indoors or in enclosed areas. Charcoal grills produce carbon monoxide (CO) fumes, which can be fatal in unventilated areas.
  • Wait until the grill is cooled before storing or covering. When you’re done cooking, remember that the grill will remain hot for a while.
  • Soak charcoal briquettes with water to ensure they are cool and inactive before throwing them away.

 

Know what to do in case of an accident

Despite all good efforts to prevent them, accidents do happen. Which is why they’re called accidents—and why people have insurance! Here are steps to take if the worst should happen:

  • In case of fire get out the trusty fire extinguisher and, if the situation warrants, call 911. Fire spreads quickly and it’s better to be safe with professional help than sorry.
  • Address injuries immediately. Run cool water over minor burns, but do not cover injured areas with bandages, butter or salve. In the case of serious burns, take victims to the emergency room or an urgent care facility. Again, if needed or when in doubt, call 911.
  • Assess your property damage. Once you have dealt with any injuries and the smoke clears, assess your property damage. If the situation calls for it, contact your insurance professional to discuss filing a claim.

2019 Hurricane Season

Courtesy of iii.org
Dr. Phil Klotzbach, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University (CSU), and his team released their updated forecast for the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane season which began on June 1 and continues through November 30.

The team adjusted their original forecast which predicted a slightly below average season, and now call for an average season. The new estimate calls for about 6 hurricanes (average is 6.4), 14 named storms (average is 12.1), 55 named storm days (average is 59.4), 20 hurricane days (average is 24.2), 2 major (Category 3-4-5) hurricanes (average is 2.7) and 5 major hurricane days (average is 6.2). These numbers include Subtropical Storm Andrea which formed in May.

“We …believe that 2019 will have approximately average activity. There remains considerable uncertainty as to whether El Niño conditions will persist through the Atlantic hurricane season. The tropical Atlantic has warmed slightly faster than normal over the past few weeks and now has near-average sea surface temperatures. We anticipate a near-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean,” said Dr. Klotzbach.

As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them. They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.

Dr. Phil Klotzbach is a non-resident scholar at the Insurance Information Institute.

Has Your Car Insurance Been Cancelled?

Courtesy of iii.org

There’s a difference between an insurance company cancelling a policy and choosing not to renew it. Learn why your insurance might not be renewed

Auto insurance cancellation

Insurance companies cannot cancel a policy that has been in force for more than 60 days except when:

  • You fail to pay the premium
  • You have committed fraud or made serious misrepresentations on your application
  • Your drivers license has been revoked or suspended.

Auto insurance non-renewal

Either you or your insurance company can decide not to renew the policy when it expires. Your insurance company must give you a certain number of days notice and explain the reason for not renewing before it drops your policy (the exact timeframes and rules will depend on the state in which you live).

There are a number of reasons an insurance company may choose not to renew a policy, and it may have nothing to do with you personally. For example, your insurer may have decided to drop that particular type of insurance or to write fewer policies where you live.

However, a nonrenewal can also be due to your record or your actions. Doing something to considerably raise the insurance company’s risk—like driving drunk—would be cause for non-renewal.

If you’ve been told your policy is not being renewed and you want a further explanation or think the reason is unfair, call the insurance company’s consumer affairs division. If you don’t get a satisfactory explanation, contact your state insurance department.

Note that nonrenewal at one insurer doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be charged a higher premium at another insurance company.

Happy Memorial Day to our Friends and Families

courtesy of wikipedia.org
Memorial Day (or Decoration Day) is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering and honoring people who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. The holiday, which is currently observed every year on the last Monday of May, was most recently held on May 28, 2018. Memorial Day was previously observed on May 30 from 1868 to 1970.

Memorial Day is considered the unofficial start of the summer vacation season in the United States, while Labor Day marks its end on the first Monday of September.

Many people visit cemeteries and memorials on Memorial Day, particularly to honor those who died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.

Two other days celebrate those who serve or have served in the U.S. military: Veterans Day, which celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans; and Armed Forces Day, a minor U.S. remembrance celebrated earlier in May, specifically honoring those currently serving in the U.S. military.

The history of Memorial Day in the United States is so controversial that it constitutes an area of research. At Columbus [Georgia] State University there is a Center for Memorial Day Research. It, together with the University of Mississippi’s Center for Civil War Research, are excellent starting points for investigating the topic.
1870 Decoration Day parade in St. Paul, Minnesota

The practice of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers is an ancient custom. Soldiers’ graves were decorated in the U.S. before and during the American Civil War.

Some believe that an annual cemetery decoration practice began before the American Civil War and thus may reflect the real origin of the “memorial day” idea Annual Decoration Days for particular cemeteries are still held on a Sunday in late spring or early summer in some rural areas of the American South, notably in the mountain areas. In cases involving a family graveyard where remote ancestors, as well as those who died more recently, are buried, this may take on the character of an extended family reunion to which some people travel hundreds of miles. People gather, put flowers on graves, and renew contacts with relatives and others. There often is a religious service and a picnic-like “dinner on the grounds”, the traditional term for a potluck meal at a church

On June 3, 1861, Warrenton, Virginia, was the location of the first Civil War soldier’s grave ever to be decorated, according to a Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper article in 1906. In 1862, women in Savannah, Georgia decorated Confederate soldiers’ graves according to the Savannah Republican. The 1863 cemetery dedication at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was a ceremony of commemoration at the graves of dead soldiers. Some have therefore claimed that Lincoln was the founder of Memorial Day. On July 4, 1864, ladies decorated soldiers’ graves according to local historians in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, yet the principal grave they claim to have decorated was of a man who was not dead yet. Nonetheless, Boalsburg promotes itself as the birthplace of Memorial Day.

In April 1865, following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, commemorations were widespread. The more than 600,000 soldiers of both sides who died in the Civil War meant that burial and memorialization took on new cultural significance. Under the leadership of women during the war, an increasingly formal practice of decorating graves had taken shape. In 1865, the federal government began creating national military cemeteries for the Union war dead.

On May 1, 1865, in Charleston, South Carolina, recently freed African-Americans held a parade of 10,000 people to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers, whose remains they had reburied from a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp. Historian David W. Blight cites contemporary news reports of this incident in the Charleston Daily Courier and the New-York Tribune. Although Blight claimed that “African Americans invented Memorial Day in Charleston, South Carolina”, in 2012, Blight stated that he “has no evidence” that the event in Charleston inspired the establishment of Memorial Day across the country. Accordingly, investigators for Time Magazine, LiveScience, RealClearLife and Snopes have called this conclusion into question.

In 1868, copying the Southern annual observance of the previous three years, General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union war dead with flowers. By the 20th century, various Union memorial traditions, celebrated on different days, merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the U.S. military service.[1]

On May 26, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson designated an “official” birthplace of the holiday by signing the presidential proclamation naming Waterloo, New York, as the holder of the title. This action followed House Concurrent Resolution 587, in which the 89th Congress had officially recognized that the patriotic tradition of observing Memorial Day had begun one hundred years prior in Waterloo, New York. The village credits druggist Henry C. Welles and county clerk John B. Murray as the founders of the holiday. Scholars have determined that the Waterloo account is a myth. Snopes and Live Science also discredit the Waterloo account.

Whats Liability Insurance

Courtesy of iii.org

Do you or your business provide professional services or advice to other businesses or individuals? Could your counsel or service lead to losses by your client for which you could be held responsible? If so, you’ll likely want to purchase professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions insurance (E&O).

Claims not covered by general liability insurance that are covered by professional liability insurance include negligence, misrepresentation, violation of good faith and fair dealing, and inaccurate advice.

What types of businesses need professional liability insurance?

In some states, professional liability insurance is required, especially for attorneys and doctors. Legal and medical malpractice insurance policies are special types of professional liability insurance. Other professionals that should consider professional liability insurance include:

  • Accountants
  • Architects
  • Engineers
  • Graphic designers
  • Information technology (IT) consultants
  • Insurance professionals
  • Investment advisors
  • Management consultants
  • Real estate agents and brokers
  • Software developers

This list is not exhaustive. Consult with your insurance professional or inquire with your profession’s trade association to determine if you might need professional liability coverage.

What’s covered… and what’s not

There are two types of professional liability polices: claims-made and occurrence. Most professional liability insurance policies are “claims-made,” meaning that the policy must be in effect both when the event took place and when a lawsuit is filed for a claim to be paid. If, however, you change careers or retire, you may want to purchase an “occurrence” policy that will cover any claim for an event that took place during the period of coverage—even if the suit is filed after the policy lapses.

Professional liability insurance will pay the cost of legal defense against claims and payment of judgments against you, up to the limit of the policy. In general, coverage does not extend to non-financial losses or losses caused by intentional or dishonest acts. Other fees, such as licensing board penalties, may also be included. Policies will generally have a deductible ranging from $1,000 to $25,000. The amount of professional liability insurance you will need and how much it will cost depends upon the size of your business and the level of risk it poses.

You may be able to include professional liability coverage in a Commercial Package Policy (CPP) as an endorsement. Note, however, the professional liability coverage is not included in an in-home business policy or Business Owners Policy (BOP).

Do Your Business Vehicles Need Insurance?

Courtesy of iii.org

Whether you own or lease a single business car or an entire fleet of commercial vehicles, you’ll need to purchase commercial auto insurance. Your insurance professional can help you weigh your risks and evaluate coverage options.

But even with insurance in place, you’ll want to take steps to prevent accidents and protect your employees and vehicles. Your business can reduce the chance of an accident by establishing and enforcing the following practices and policies.

Hard-and-fast driving rules

When it comes to the safety of employees and the protection of your vehicles, you should set certain firm driving rules that must be followed at all times, including:

  • Mandatory seat belt use – Nearly every state has a seat belt law. Seat belt use helps prevent deaths and limit the severity of injuries in vehicle accidents. There is no reasonable excuse for not using a seat belt.
  • Zero tolerance for intoxicants – Even one alcoholic beverage can impair a driver’s reaction time. Employees should never drink or use other intoxicants prior to using business vehicles.
  • No cellphone use – Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents, and cellphone use while driving is banned in some states. Prohibit employees from taking calls or texting while driving.

Vehicle use guidelines

Other rules may be more flexible, but you should consider instituting policies and adhering to the following practices yourself as appropriate:

  • Limit non-business use of vehicles – While some employees use the same car for work and personal use, generally limit business vehicle use to work-related travel.
  • Slow down – Scheduling should allow sufficient travel time between meetings and assignments. Do not create such a frantic pace of work that employees are encouraged to speed. In addition to reducing the risk of accidents, driving the speed limit also will help control fuel costs.
  • Lock and secure vehicles – Employees should always lock vehicles when on the job. Whenever possible, vehicles should be parked in secure, well-lighted areas.

Employee-focused practices to reduce vehicle risk

  • Know your employees – Before hiring employees to drive company vehicles, check their driving record with the motor vehicle department for past infractions. Limit or ban driving by employees with a history of accidents or moving violations. Employees should also be required to report any accidents they have while not working. In addition, recognize that some personality traits—such as a bad temper—can raise the risk of auto accidents.
  • Provide training – Employees who regularly drive work vehicles—or are taking on a new assignment requiring vehicle use—should be provided with drivers training. This course may just be a refresher for some, but it should cover key safety practices such as following distances and proper backing techniques.
  • Recognize safe drivers – For businesses in which driving is central—such as a florist or a moving company—establish a program to recognize and reward safe drivers. You may also want to reward a department or the whole company for accident-free periods.

Responding to an accident

The above practices and policies can help minimize the risk to your business vehicles, but they cannot entirely prevent accidents from happening. If a business vehicle is involved in an accident, you’ll want to help your employee-driver respond appropriately and proceed with filing an insurance claim. The following practices and steps will help your business and the involved employee recover and get back to work.

  • Establish procedures in the event of an accident – Employees using company vehicles should be trained what to do if an accident occurs. This includes not leaving the scene of an accident, contacting the police, and collecting information (license plate numbers, contact information, insurance information, etc.) from the affected parties and any witnesses. The accident should also be reported to appropriate personnel at work. Consider using the incident as an opportunity to educate all employees who drive company vehicles about what to do if they are involved in an accident.
  • Contact your insurance professional and file a claim with your insurer – As soon as possible, contact your insurance professional to report the accident and begin the claims filing process. It’s especially important to work immediately with your insurance team if anyone has been injured in the accident. Follow the guidance of your insurer in a timely manner, such as getting estimates for repairs.

Remember too, that auto insurance claims are not limited to accidents. You may also need to file a claim if your vehicle is vandalized, stolen or damaged from an event other than an accident, such as fire or severe weather.

 

What is Gap Insurance

Courtesy of iii.org

How gap insurance works

When you buy or lease a new car or truck, the vehicle starts to depreciate in value the moment it leaves the car lot. In fact, most cars lose 20 percent of their value within a year. Standard auto insurance policies cover the depreciated value of a car—in other words, a standard policy pays the current market value of the vehicle at the time of a claim.

If, when you finance the purchase of a new car and put down only a small deposit, in the early years of the vehicle’s ownership the amount of the loan may exceed the market value of the vehicle itself.

In the event of an accident in which you’ve badly damaged or totaled your car, gap insurance covers the difference between what a vehicle is currently worth (which your standard insurance will pay) and the amount you actually owe on it.

When you might need gap insurance

It’s a good idea to consider buying gap insurance for your new car or truck purchase if you:

  • Made less than a 20 percent down payment
  • Financed for 60 months or longer
  • Leased the vehicle (carrying gap insurance is generally required for a lease)
  • Purchased a vehicle that depreciates faster than the average
  • Rolled over negative equity from an old car loan into the new loan

Where you can get gap insurance

Your car dealer may offer to sell you gap insurance on your new vehicle. However, most car insurers also offer it, and they typically charge less than the dealer. On most auto insurance policies, including gap insurance with collision and comprehensive coverage adds only about $20 a year to the annual premium.

 

8 Myths About Auto Insurance

Courtesy of
https://www.iii.org/article/8-auto-insurance-myths

When purchasing an auto policy, it’s important to understand the factors that affect your policy costs and coverage. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad information that passes for “common wisdom”—here, we separate myth from facts about car insurance.


Myth 1 – Color determines the price of auto insurance

It doesn’t matter whether your car is “Arrest Me Red” or “Hide In Plain Sight White”—the color doesn’t actually factor into your auto insurance costs. The price of your auto policy is based on many factors, such as car make, model, body type, engine size and the age of the vehicle, as well as the car’s sticker price, the cost to repair it, its overall safety record and the likelihood of theft. Insurers also take into account the age, driving record and sometimes the credit history of the driver.

Myth 2 – It costs more to insure your car when you get older

Quite the opposite, in fact—older drivers may be eligible for special discounts. For example, those over 55 years of age can get a reduction in their auto insurance premium if they successfully complete an accident prevention course (available through local and state agencies as well as through the AAA and AARP). Retirees or those who aren’t employed full time—and therefore, who are driving less—may also be eligible for a car insurance discount. Older driver programs and discounts vary by state and insurance carrier and driver age, so if you think you may qualify, check with your insurance professional.

Myth 3 – Your credit has no effect on your insurance rate

Your credit-based insurance score—which is derived from your credit history—may matter. A good credit score demonstrates how well you manage your financial affairs and has been shown to be a good predictor of whether someone is more likely to file an insurance claim so many insurance companies take it into consideration when you want to purchase, change or renew your auto insurance coverage. People with good credit—and, therefore good insurance scores—often end up paying less for insurance.

Myth 4 – Your insurance will cover you if your car is stolen, vandalized or damaged by falling tree limbs, hail, flood or fire

This is only true if you opt for comprehensive and collision coverage along with your standard policy. If a car is worth less than $1,000, or less than 10 times the insurance premium, purchasing these coverages may not be cost effective—but you do need to have collision and comprehensive insurance to fully protect your vehicle from all types of damage.

Myth 5 – You only need the minimum amount of auto liability insurance required by law

Almost every state requires you to buy a minimum amount of auto liability coverage but buying only the minimum amount of liability means you are likely to pay more out-of-pocket for losses incurred after an accident—and those costs may be steep. The insurance industry and consumer groups generally recommend a minimum of $100,000 of bodily injury protection per person and $300,000 per accident. If you have substantial personal financial assets to protect in the event of a lawsuit, you may even want to consider an umbrella liability policy.

Myth 6 – If another person drives your car, in the event of accident, his or her auto insurance will cover the damages

In most states, the auto insurance policy covering the vehicle is considered the primary insurance. This means that the car owner’s insurance company must pay for damages caused by an accident, regardless of who is driving. Policies and laws differ by state, so make sure you understand the rules before allowing another person to drive your car.

Myth 7 – Soldiers pay more for insurance than civilians

If you are in the military—regardless of which branch—you actually qualify for a discount on auto insurance. You’ll need to supply documentation that lists your name, rank and the time that you will be enlisted in the service (in some situations, you might be able to have your commanding officer make a phone call on your behalf). Shop around—some auto insurance companies provide discounts for former members of the military, as well as their families.

<
Myth 8 – Personal auto insurance also covers business use of your car

If you are self-employed and use your vehicle for business purposes, personal auto insurance may not protect you so it’s important to purchase business vehicle insurance. If you have other people—such as employees—using your vehicle, regularly check their driving records.