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First Casualty Insurance Group
 Insurance Blog 
Feb
13
2013
Wednesday, February 13 2013
Car ownership is a large part of the family budget for most households and a major expense is insurance. Ever since automobile insurance has been offered; buyers have been sensitive to how much it costs. Many insurance company ads focus on price and new customers are acquired by companies who offer protection at a lower price.

 

Many car owners have been attracted to purchasing minimum coverage. Several insurance companies are gaining customers by specializing in auto policies that contain just enough coverage to meet a given state’s financial responsibility laws.

 

On a positive note, offering minimum coverage is a far better alternative to operating a car without insurance and many problems are caused by the accidents caused by uninsured drivers. On the negative side, coverage that meets state law minimums may be inadequate for the needs of many drivers.

 

Car owners who place an emphasis on price may be ignoring the possibility that minimum coverage policies may not protect their own cars that are damaged in collisions or are lost by theft. Further, minimum coverage policies are of little help in major accidents that a driver may cause. Consider the legal plight of a driver who has a policy that offers a maximum of $15,000 and that driver hits a passenger-filled car and causes injuries and damage totaling more than $50,000? If sued, that driver will still be responsible for all of the claims that exceed the limits of the minimum coverage policy.

 

Insurance protection works best when it provides PROPER protection. Minimum coverage policies may be more affordable, but they may end up costing their customers far too much when serious accidents occur. It’s important to contact an insurance professional to determine what coverage you need and then find out the best way to pay for it.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc., 2011

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.
Posted by: AT 10:40 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Feb
11
2013
Monday, February 11 2013

You may be considered to be a telecommuter without working from your home full-time. If you work from your home for part of your work week and if the situation is an ongoing arrangement with your employer…that’s telecommuting! That is also an opportunity to make special insurance considerations. Consider the following:

Property Considerations

You may have gaps in coverage because of your work arrangement. You may not have the insurance protection you need for your employer's business property that is kept in your home or your own property that is used to perform your job. This is because residential insurance policies severely restrict or exclude coverage for business property. A further complication is that business property usually consists of high-valued items that are vulnerable to damage and/or to theft. Such property includes fax machines, copiers, computers, pads, smart phones, computer peripherals, GPS, etc.

Liability Considerations

Personal insurance policies that include liability protection typically exclude business-related losses. Further, different policies can be quite broad in interpreting how a loss is connected to "business." Liability Policies A and B would routinely respond to handling an insured who spilled hot coffee on a guest in his home. What if, instead of being a social guest, the visitor was your employer's client? Policy A may still offer coverage because it considers the coffee spill to be a common home hazard. Policy B, however, may flat-out exclude the loss because the injured person was in the home for a business reason.

Vehicle Liability

Instead of using your personal vehicle for going to and from work, more of your vehicle use may be related to your job, such as making deliveries, calling on clients or visiting jobsites. Many instances of job related use might be excluded from your personal auto coverage.

Home Accidents

Simple events may be complicated when they occur in the course of performing your job at home. Coverage for injuries suffered while going up the stairs or experiencing a prolonged illness may cause coverage questions for your employer. Individual company or state-mandated coverage for employees may not apply to work-related accidents that occur at home.

Document What You Do

In order to determine your coverage needs, you must clearly identify your exposure to business losses. Document the following:

  • What routine job duties do you perform in your home?
  • Are any tasks hazardous?
  • Who visits your home because of your job (clients, vendors, repair personnel, suppliers, others)? Be Specific.
  • How often do such persons visit?
  • Is a certain part of your home dedicated as a work area/office?
  • What equipment is used in your job? (Is the equipment used only for your job? Who owns each piece of equipment?)

Once you have a good idea of the loss exposures from performing your job at home, you need to discuss your situation with an insurance professional. An insurance pro can help you find additional coverage options as well as help to identify what coverage gaps must be addressed by your employer. While it can be liberating to telecommute, you must make sure that you haven't given up important protection along with your cubicle or office.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2012

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.

 

Posted by: AT 10:27 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Feb
06
2013
Wednesday, February 06 2013

Hiring and firing practices are the legal minefields that are best navigated by the use of Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI). It is important that a business has clear policies that are applied consistently to each employee. Such policies must directly relate to their job. Do you know what type of decisions could trigger a claim? For example, is it legal to terminate:

  • a driver with a bad driving record?
  • an employee who is rude to your customers?
  • an employee who swears at customers?

The answer is not that simple. A business’ action may depend upon circumstances such as whether an employee’s duties involve driving a company vehicle, or directly involves customers and if the company can prove that such behavior fails to meet the applicable job standards.

One key issue is having access to legal counsel that has expertise in this special area of the law. Another key issue is documenting the essential job functions and establishing measurable standards for each position. Use of regular performance reviews and applying the standards equally to each employee is a smart employment practice. The best defense against employment practice claims is to know the law in your state and then having policies and procedures that meet or exceed its legal standards.

The U.S. Department of Labor offers a Small Business Handbook from their Website. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also offers numerous publications addressing different employment laws from their Website. Contacting an insurance agent regarding Employment Practices Liability Insurance is another avenue to explore.

Policies and premiums for this type of coverage vary tremendously among insurers. Many companies offering the coverage also offer assistance in writing policy and procedure manuals and other ways to reduce the potential for claims involving sexual harassment, wrongful termination or discrimination. No business is immune from these claims.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2002, 2005, 2010

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.
Posted by: AT 08:40 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Feb
06
2013
Wednesday, February 06 2013

Currently, car loans may last as long as four to six years and leases are becoming more expensive. Whether your vehicle is a coupe, sedan, van, sports utility vehicle, or truck, your vehicle’s value will depreciate very quickly. A rapid loss of actual value accompanied by a longer loan obligation spells trouble.

It isn’t unusual for the amount of the unpaid loan and lease balance to become much larger than the vehicle's value. This disparity exists over much of the loan or lease period. Making matters worse is that this gap is usually only discovered after a total loss. After the insurer pays its obligation, you may have to pay the bank or leasing company thousands of dollars out of your own pocket. The situation is an unfortunate side effect of the need to extend financing to accommodate extremely expensive vehicles. However, there are a couple of solutions to the dilemma.

The Auto Loan/Lease Coverage Endorsement

This optional coverage is available from a variety of insurance companies. The form provides coverage for the following:

  • Leased vehicles - Reimburses you for the difference between the amount due under the terms of the lease and the actual cash value of the auto in the event of the auto's total loss.
  • Owned vehicles - Pays any outstanding indebtedness incurred by you for that financed new vehicle in the event that there is total loss or damage to the vehicle and the amount due under the finance agreement is greater than the actual cash value of the automobile.

On smaller, partial losses, an insurer will normally pay to have the damages repaired or parts replaced, and the lease or loan gap coverage option is not a factor.

Exclusions

Generally this optional coverage excludes items such as overdue lease payments, penalties (for excessive use, abnormal wear and tear, or high mileage), security deposits, costs of warranties or various types of credit insurance, or carryover balances from a previous lease.

Auto Replacement Cost Coverage

For an additional premium, a new car owner may buy coverage to settle major losses based on the vehicle's replacement cost rather than its depreciated value. There are some limitations, such as:

  • the coverage is usually only available for new or nearly new (six months or less) cars
  • there may be a maximum dollar amount that applies to a total loss
  • the coverage may only be available for the first few years of the car's useful life

If you have a newer vehicle and are concerned that you could suffer a large out-of-pocket expense if your car is totaled, you should talk to a qualified insurance professional to answer your questions. You may find that the extra protection is worth the extra cost.

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COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2012

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.

Posted by: AT 08:33 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Jan
28
2013
Monday, January 28 2013
Your daily travel routine is not much different than many others’. You get up and start the car, pickup, SUV or hybrid, leave the garage or parking spot and head to work. Perhaps you pop out somewhere for lunch and, later, back home. Hey, it’s the weekend, so maybe you take a day trip to see relatives or go to a nearby state park and do some camping. Maybe you stay in town and decide to enjoy the local music and clubbing scene. Who knows what adventures await for you and your vehicle? Well, increasingly, your insurer does.

For well over a decade car manufacturers have, without much publicity, manufactured and installed special boxes in your vehicles called event data recorders or EDRs. Though less sophisticated, they are similar to “black boxes” used on aircraft. While they aren’t equipped for tracking you in a way you might expect from a spy attempt, they do perform at a level that may surprise vehicle owners.

EDRs can capture a large amount of information about a vehicle, particularly information about what occurs before a traffic accident. When vehicles are repaired or prior to being sent for salvage, EDRs can be removed, have their data reviewed and statistics be reported on the speed of vehicle, time of incident, whether brakes were applied, road surface response and other details.

While a vehicle is operated without incident, the data is, at some pre-set limit, written over. However, should an accident occur, the information is frozen and maintains the pre-accident data. Manufacturers typically use the information to study vehicle response. It is meant to assist with future vehicle development. However, increasingly, authorities and private insurers have moved to get access to the information and use it for crime and claims investigation respectively.

An interesting twist involves privacy issues. Many vehicle owners are unaware of EDRs and their purpose. A larger issue is the ownership of the information. Manufacturers treat the information as proprietary and do not share it with vehicle owners. Authorities and insurers get legal access to the information, yet vehicle owners do not. Currently, lawsuits are arising regarding whether the use of such information and the existence of EDRs constitute invasion of privacy.

As technology becomes more pervasive and advanced, both insurance companies and insurance consumers should be more aware of its impact on their business relationship.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2011

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.
Posted by: AT 09:06 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
 

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