Posts made in March, 2015

Summer is almost here and so is Boating Season!

Posted by on Mar 30, 2015 in News | 0 comments

Can you feel it? Summer is right around the corner and so is boating season! Is your boat adequately protected by boat insurance? Whether you’re a fisherman, skier, or just love taking your boat out away from land for a swim, boat insurance is a must-have! If you have recently purchased a boat, you were required by the lender to carry liability and physical damage on the boat – however – some people pay cash and just assume that their homeowner’s policy will provide the necessary coverage. That is definitely not the case! There is a need for a separate boat policy because it is unique in the coverage it offers. Keep in mind that you can get a discount if you insure your home, auto and boat with the same provider. If someone is injured on your watercraft or there are damages to third parties caused as the result of a boating accident, you’re a boat policy provides coverage for liability. Coverage is also available for uninsured boaters and personal injury protection or medical payments (depending on your state). Comprehensive and collision coverage can also be included. Some personal effects coverage for fishing equipment and other personal property you keep on the boat is also covered under the policy. When you purchase comprehensive and collision, towing and labor coverages are also available. You should be aware of “lay-up” periods that your insurance company may put on your policy since a boater’s policy is different from a home or auto policy.  The “Lay-up” period means that coverage is suspended for specified periods when you’re not using your boat. Unbeknownst to you, you may innocently answer a question on an application stating that you don’t use your boat from November 1 to March 1 – and then – one day you take your boat out in November and have an accident. You call your insurance agent only to find out that you don’t have coverage. I would suggest for your own peace of mind, to have a boat insurer that covers your boat year round with no “lay-up” periods listed. Now, let’s discuss another important liability issue to be aware of – transporting your boat on a trailer. What coverage is provided while you’re transporting your boat on a trailer? Your vehicle’s liability insurance is the policy that provides coverage because it’s attached to a vehicle and transported on land. Let’s say your boat becomes detached and causes property damage, bodily injury or God forbid loss of life. These coverages are limited to your auto liability limitations. This is why I suggest having an umbrella liability policy that extends over your auto and boat because if damage is caused while your boat is being transported, there is an additional layer of coverage over your auto insurance limits. You are also protected by this additional layer of liability on the water when you add the extended coverage. Make sure to pay attention to navigational limits placed on your policy. Specifications should state inland waters of the US and Canada or coastal waters of the US and Canada. Depending on the carrier and the type of boat, these navigational limits will vary so make sure not to navigate your boat into excluded waters that have security and political risks. Is your boat insured? Now is the time to either review your existing policy or purchase a new one to make sure that you’re covered during this summer’s busy boating season. Give me a call – I’ll walk you through the...

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Why You Need Insurance as a Self-Employed Consultant

Posted by on Mar 25, 2015 in News | 0 comments

Do you work from home as a self-employed consultant? Do you believe that you really don’t need insurance at all or that your homeowners insurance will protect you from your business exposure? The fact is, you still have business liability exposures associated with your line of work – even if you work from home. I know a lot of self-employed consultants who feel they do not need insurance. In fact, most of them believe that their homeowners insurance will cover them. While it does cover property such as computers, it does not cover business liability! Unless it’s required by a contract, in general, self-employed consultants don’t get business insurance.  And those coverage’s requested can vary depending on the contract. At a minimum a self-employed consultant should carry general liability, auto liability, workers compensation, and a professional liability policy.  An errors and omissions liability or professional liability is a consultant’s primary business exposure. Depending on the nature of the business larger contracts will also require a consultant to carry an umbrella liability policy and set higher limits on the professional liability policy. So what’s the reason behind requiring subcontractors to carry insurance? To transfer risk; they need to know that their subcontractors insurance will cover any losses caused by the subcontractor  – and – subcontractors are required to pick up the liability of the company requesting the insurance in larger contracts. Most sole proprietor consultants can get a basic foundation of commercial insurance for about $1000 per year as a rule of thumb. Depending on the kind of consulting, adding professional liability or excess liability will increase this cost by another $1,000 to $2,500. I recommend that the limits be negotiated up front in an effort to reduce the cost of risk to all our business customers. An honest discussion about kinds and amounts of insurance is healthy when requiring a consultant with $200,000 – $300,000 of revenue to carry $3 mm or $5 million worth of liability insurance and these excessively high limits may be difficult to obtain from any insurance carrier. Having access to multiple insurance companies is always a plus. At Harned Insurance we have several companies hungry for this kind of business so we can offer good options at the lowest possible cost. Do not hesitate to contact me if you have insurance questions or are in need of...

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Time to Spring Clean Your Insurance Policies

Posted by on Mar 19, 2015 in News | 0 comments

Spring is the time of year for refreshing and renewing! We usually think about our office, home or yard but the one thing we overlook is our insurance policies. When was the last time you looked at yours to see if your coverage is still adequate compared to when the policy was written? Honestly, unless it’s a commercial policy of some kind, most people never review their policies to ensure that they have enough coverage to cover the items they have today. So, let’s go over your insurance policies with a fine tooth comb and get some spring cleaning done! Personal Auto Insurance Your auto policy is a great place to start. It is highly likely that you have the same auto policy you bought after you purchased your first house. It is also highly likely that it no longer fits your needs i.e. if you carry minimum auto liability limits; it’s just not enough to protect you. Now, if you drive a high value vehicle, does $35 a day for rental coverage sound enough? A higher rental car limit and an agreed value would be much better – definitely something to look into. Homeowner’s Insurance This is probably in the same state as your auto insurance. Over the past few years have you purchased any jewelry, fine art or rugs? Did you contact your insurance agent? These items are not covered by the regular contents section of a homeowner’s policy and they need to be scheduled on an inland marine form that can be attached to a homeowner’s policy or written in conjunction with it. Insuring an $11,000 pair of earrings for $100 just doesn’t make sense! Personal Umbrella Have you thought about purchasing extra layers of protection? Ten years ago, you probably didn’t need a personal umbrella liability policy but now you do. This policy provides extra barriers from your pocket book for claims in excess of the amount covered by the underlying auto and personal liability policies – and – it’s very affordable. Small Commercial Insurance Policies Are you a small business owner? You probably have commercial policies that renew automatically each year without confirmation from the company that there haven’t been any changes. Spring is the time to bring them to your agent’s attention by looking through your company and detail all changes to make sure that you are fully covered. Life Insurance Policies If you recently went through a divorce, you need to update your beneficiaries. You should probably remove your ex-spouse and if you have term insurance, make sure you understand when the term ends so you have time to shop for another policy. This might be the time to look at whole life insurance. You should also take into consideration the amount of the policy – is it enough to cover today’s expenses? Health Insurance Here’s a question to ask yourself: Do I really need a low deductible? Even though they are healthy individuals, most people pay too much for health insurance because they don’t go over all the coverage options with their agent who will help you see if there are any other changes you can make and see where you can increase your...

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It’s Graduation Party Time – Is Your Event Insured?

Posted by on Mar 17, 2015 in News | 0 comments

It’s right around the corner – graduation time! In every teenager’s life, this is a very important moment and has taken a lot of perseverance and hard work for both of you to get here! Celebrating the accomplishment is only natural and has become more popular over the years and as responsible parents, you also give your child the “no alcohol” speech. Let’s be realistic though, it is possible for some teens to sneak alcohol into a party. That’s where the problem starts because if they consume alcohol at your home – even without your knowledge – leave the party and cause an at-fault accident, it is very likely you will be held responsible. Even if you vehemently prohibited alcohol, you hosted the party where the alcohol was consumed so you can be held liable. Social host liability laws vary with each state but in general, insurance will not provide liability coverage nor defend when an illegal act is intentionally committed. Here are a few questions and answers to taken into consideration when it comes to graduation parties and liability: Can I serve my kids alcohol so that I can monitor them?  So many parents feel that they would prefer to monitor the situation and serve them alcohol since they believe teens are going to drink anyway. This is a bad way to handle things since your personal liability policy will only protect you if you have a party serving alcohol to legal adults – it will NOT protect you against committing an illegal activity. What if we have the party at another venue and not in our home? It’s still illegal because you’re still the host serving alcohol to minors. You are still responsible and simply changing the venue does not change accountability. What if one of my child’s friends shows up intoxicated and I send them away?  Will I still be liable?  You can be held liable if you knowingly sent someone who is visibly intoxicated away and allow them to drive their vehicle. What if my child throws a party without my knowledge while I’m out of town?  Even when you’re not there, you’re still responsible for what happens there since you own the house. Your homeowners policy many or may not defend you depending on the circumstances. What if someone trips or falls or gets injured in some other way? For injuries that occur on your property your personal liability provides coverage subject to the limits on your policy. A limit for medical payments and a limit for personal liability will be provided by your homeowner’s policy or renter’s policy. An additional personal umbrella extends over your personal liability to provide extra layers of coverage. You can get sued for anything in today’s litigious world. Your personal liability can defend you for covered lawsuits even if you’re not liable. Here’s the question, do you want your homeowner’s premiums to go up if someone were hurt or got hurt at your party? Graduations are special events so keep them that way by purchasing an event liability policy to provide coverage’s specifically for the party. The host liquor liability provided on the event policy will defend you and payout damages up to the limits of insurance if an adult was drinking and causes an at-fault accident after leaving as well as provide coverage for injuries at the...

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Agent versus Direct Writers and Property Claims

Posted by on Mar 12, 2015 in News | 0 comments

Insurance claimants were asked how they feel about filing with an agent in comparison to filing directly with and insurance company in a 2013 J.D. Power and Associates Property Claims Satisfaction Study – there were some interesting revelations. Those who filed through their agent gave a 50 point higher rating of satisfaction. The number of claimants filing directly continued to increase even with the number of dissatisfied claimants. Even with the substantial and heavy claims they dealt with in previous years, the study also found that overall, home insurance companies still get high points for handling claims. On a 1,000 point scale, overall satisfaction was rated at 832 points which is an increase from 823 and 818 for previous years.  The average settlement was $8,517, which was an increase from an average of $7,937 with about 8 percent of homeowners filing a property claim. The costs to cover repairs went up to $7,844 from $7,151 and contents claims increased by $250 over last year. There was an increase in homeowner’s out-of-pocket expenses from $1,945 to $3,888. Thirty-three percent of the claims were for tornadoes and hurricanes, non-weather related water damage by 14 percent and hail by 22 percent of participants. When measuring a customer’s satisfaction with their property claims experiences, the study used five factors: Settlement First Notice of Loss Estimation Process Service Interaction Repair Process “Despite increases in both the frequency and average severity of property damage in the US during the past two years, the fact that customer satisfaction remains high is a testament to how diligently the personal insurance industry has responded to its customers,” stated Jeremy Bowler of J.D. Powers. Customer satisfaction with the service interaction process declined nine points even though overall satisfaction continues to get high ratings. The use of direct channels when filing a claim, calling a call center or online reporting instead of using an agent are being attributed to the drop. The report goes on to state that consumer satisfaction is 50 points higher when filing through their agent as opposed to direct channels and that 67 percent of consumers filed their claim directly with the insurer which was an increase of 57 percent. “For the industry average, the call center experience fails to deliver the same level of service as an agent.  Especially during times of hardship when someone’s house has been destroyed or their valuable possessions have been lost, it’s difficult for a call center representative to replicate the personal relationship customers get with an agent,” Bowler added. While only 56 percent of the customers who participated in the study said a call center representative eased their stress, a whopping 72 percent said their agent helped ease their stress. Source:...

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