Seven Commercial Vehicle Insurance Myths Debunked

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By Ryan Furmick, business auto product manager, Progressive Commercial

Your vehicles are the backbone that keeps your business up and running. But when it comes to the insurance for those vehicles, there may be some misconceptions floating around out there. For example, you might have been told that it’s okay to cancel your vehicle insurance in the off-season, or that all of your drivers are automatically covered by your policy.

To help you get to the facts about commercial auto insurance, we’ve collected some of the more widely-held misconceptions and uncovered the truth about them–along with some tips on how to make sure you have the right coverages for your business.

Myth: It’s cheaper to cancel your insurance if you have a seasonal business.

Fact: Not necessarily. If you cancel your insurance policy, your stored vehicles won’t be protected. A Comprehensive-only policy provides coverage for a business that doesn’t need liability coverage during certain months, but needs basic protection against incidents, such as vandalism, theft, falling tree branches, hail, etc. This is ideal for vehicles that sit for long periods during off-season.

Plus, a Comprehensive-only policy provides continuous insurance which may save you money in the long-run. If you drop your insurance completely, you may pay significantly more to purchase a new policy when your peak season rolls around because most insurance companies ask for proof of continuous coverage to get you the best rate.

Myth: All commercial vehicle insurance companies use their own claims adjusters.

Fact: Most companies use part-time or contract adjusters to handle commercial vehicle claims, which can slow down the time it takes to get your vehicle back on the road and in business. Progressive handles 100 percent of its commercial vehicle insurance claims with its own staff of in-house commercial insurance experts, making sure claims are processed faster than other insurers that outsource this work.

Myth:  You must pay your insurance premium in full up-front.

Fact:  This isn’t always the case.  Some insurance companies offer payment plans that allow your insurance premium to be paid in installments, with very little initial payment.  Keep in mind that you might qualify for a discount if you pay your policy premium in full up-front; however, your carrier or agent may also have other bill plan options available to help you manage your cash flow. Progressive, for example, offers several bill plans, including low initial payments and no interest financing

Myth:  Your employees are covered when they drive your business vehicles.

Fact: Some vehicle insurance companies will only extend coverage to drivers who are specifically named on the policy.  Make sure your insurer allows “permissive use,” which means that all of your drivers are covered as long as they have your permission to operate the vehicle.

Myth: It’s cheaper to buy all of your business insurance products from the same company.

Fact: You need a wide range of coverages to protect your business, from commercial vehicle insurance and general liability to workers’ compensation. While it might be easier to buy all of these products from the same company, you could save big bucks by buying your policies from separate providers. Shop around to find the best deal, or ask one of our agents for quotes from several different companies.

Myth: All insurance companies offer 24/7 service.

Fact: Many insurance companies are only available during regular office hours, which can make filing a claim, adding a vehicle to your policy, and paying bills inconvenient. Before you buy, check with your insurance company to make sure they’re available when you need them.

Myth or Fact

Wonder if one of your perceptions about vehicle insurance is myth or fact? Talk to one of our experienced agents at West Town Insurance Agency.  We can provide answers and help you determine which coverages are right for your business.

 

Ryan Furmick is a business auto product manager for Progressive Commercial.  Progressive, in business since 1937, is a market leader in commercial auto insurance.  For more information on Progressive’s coverages or to find a local independent agent, go to http://www.progressivecommercial.com.

Flood Insurance: How it works

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The National Flood Insurance Program

Historically, flooding has brought damage and destruction to communities across the United States. In order to help alleviate the financial devastation caused by flooding, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in 1968. The NFIP, overseen by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), enables homeowners, business owners, and renters in participating communities to purchase federally backed flood insurance. This insurance is designed to provide an alternative to disaster assistance to meet the escalating costs of repairing flood damage to buildings and their contents. You can get flood insurance:
• If you live or own a business in a high-risk area (or Special Flood Hazard Area, known
as an SFHA).
• If you live or own a business in a moderate to low-risk area—and possibly at a lower
cost.
• If your home or business has been flooded before.
• If your mortgage company doesn’t require it.

Flood Insurance Basics

All properties are at some risk for flooding. The NFIP is dedicated to making property owners and renters aware of the need for flood insurance—not only among those who live and work in high-risk areas, but those in moderate- to low-risk areas, too. Properties
located outside of the mapped high-risk areas are not exempt from flooding. Their risk, while reduced, is not removed.

Consumers need to know that most homeowners policies do not cover flooding. Only a flood insurance policy will financially protect you from flood damage costs. Flood insurance is available to homeowners, business owners, and renters for both a building and its contents.

Homeowners can insure a home for up to $250,000 and its contents for up to $100,000. Renters can cover their belongings for up to $100,000. Non-residential property owners can insure a building and its contents for up to $500,000 each. The average premium for a
yearly flood insurance policy is about $700 per year.

Flood Insurance Requirements

Residents and business owners who live or work in an SFHA are required to purchase flood insurance if they have acquired a loan from a federally regulated and insured lender, and they must carry the insurance for the life of the loan. Those outside of mapped SFHAs can also purchase flood insurance, and they may be eligible for a lower-cost policy (called a Preferred Risk Policy). The NFIP encourages all residents to learn about their flood risk and to protect themselves with flood insurance.

How to Purchase Flood Insurance

Flood insurance is sold and serviced by insurance agents in more than 22,000 communities nationwide. To purchase a policy, call us at 252-368-4017.

Waiting Period

• There typically is a 30-day waiting period when purchasing a new policy. There are exceptions to the waiting period.  Talk to your agent to see if any of those exceptions apply to your situation.

What’s Insured under Building Property Coverage*

• The insured building and its foundation
• The electrical and plumbing systems
• Central air-conditioning equipment, furnaces, and water heaters
• Refrigerators, cooking stoves, and built-in appliances such as dishwashers
• Permanently installed carpeting over an unfinished floor
• Permanently installed paneling, wallboard, bookcases, and cabinets
• Window blinds
• Detached garages (up to 10 percent of building property coverage); detached buildings (other than garages) require a
separate building property policy
• Debris removal

What’s Insured under Personal Property (Contents Coverage)*

• Personal belongings such as clothing, furniture, and electronic equipment
• Curtains
• Portable and window air-conditioners
• Portable microwave ovens and portable dishwashers
• Carpets not included in building property coverage (see above)
• Clothes washers and dryers (even in a basement)
• Food freezers and the food in them (even in a basement)
• Certain valuable items, such as original artwork and furs (up to $2,500)

What’s Not Insured Either by Building Property or Personal Property Coverage*

• Damage caused by moisture, mildew, or mold that could have been avoided by the property owner
• Currency, precious metals, and valuable papers such as stock certificates
• Property and belongings outside of a building, such as trees, plants, wells, septic systems, walks, decks, patios, fences,
seawalls, hot tubs, and swimming pools
• Living expenses such as temporary housing
• Financial losses caused by business interruption or loss of use of insured property
• Most self-propelled vehicles such as cars, including their parts (see Section IV.5 in your policy)

* This is a partial list of coverage. Refer to the Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) for a description and full list of coverage and exclusions.

 

*Source: National Flood Insurance Program – March 2015  www.FloodSmart.gov

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Is your business protected?

business insurance

You have decided to make your dreams come alive by opening or expanding your small business. It’s an exciting time, but you should also be thinking about the disasters that can affect you as a business owner.

Each business faces unique risks. Working with a Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent like West Town Insurance Agency can provide your business with not only the protection it needs, but also the level of confidence every business owner should have in a worst-case scenario. Here are some of the most common issues business owners face when it comes to protecting their businesses.

Property Damage

You have found the ideal location for your new business. Now what? Talk to your insurance agent about your intentions before investing, and ask an inspector to examine electrical, structural and exterior elements of your new building. Beyond this, your insurance policy will reflect protections against damage from fire, storms and other accidents. If you are concerned about any other additional liabilities, don’t be shy—speak up and talk to your agent about your concerns.

Liability

If you sell products or offer professional services, you may be aware of product or malpractice liability when it comes to insurance. While most business owners would not purposely sabotage their business or reputation, mistakes happen—and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Most small business owners have to rely on other people in order for their businesses to fully operate, and your Trusted Choice independent agent can help to protect you from third-party fault as well.

Fraud and Cyber Crime

It is more common now than ever to do business over the Internet. Email, e-commerce and electronic databases are integral pieces of most business practices. That’s why it’s important to evaluate your business risk factors and make sure you have adequate coverage should anything happen. You may be careful and trustworthy with your customer’s personal information, but in some cases, employees, contractors and your customers themselves may not be as cautious.

Sharing is Caring

Your Trusted Choice agent will ask you questions like “How do you serve your customers?” and “Tell me about the security of your data and intellectual property.” Don’t be alarmed—it’s an insurance agent’s job to get into your “business.” In order to offer you the best insurance policy, your agent needs to know the inner workings of your work. When evaluating your insurance needs, you may forget to think about certain exposures—or you might not even know they exist to begin with! Or maybe you assume certain liabilities are covered under a standard policy—your agent can confirm whether or not that’s true. To end up with the best policy possible, invite your agent to your business location or to come see you in action. Let your agent take care of the heavy insurance lifting so you can focus on serving your own customers.

Contact one of our experienced agents at West Town Insurance Agency at 252-368-4017 to start the process of finding comprehensive coverage for your business.

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SOURCE:

https://www.trustedchoice.com/business-insurance/

www.smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com

 

Will You Need Renters Insurance in College?

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When trying to think of all of the things you need when packing for college, renters insurance probably isn’t on the top of the list for college students.  But is some cases, that could be a big mistake.  Students who live on campus typically do not have to worry about renters insurance, their parents’ homeowners’ policy should cover the loss or damage of most items as long as the policy includes so-called “off premises coverage”.  (Just be sure that you understand the limits to this coverage and the deductibles that apply.)  If you live in a rental home or apartment, chances are you don’t have the proper insurance. Despite the fact that rented homes are more likely to be burglarized than owner-occupied properties, nearly 60 percent of renters don’t have a renters policy.

Why does it matter?

“If you rent a house or apartment and think that your landlord is financially responsible when there is a fire, theft or other catastrophe—think again,” warns the Insurance Information Institute*. “Your landlord may have insurance to protect the building you are living in. But your landlord’s policy won’t replace your personal possessions or pay for your living expenses while the building is being repaired. The only way to protect yourself financially against disasters is to buy a renters insurance policy.”  Also, if one roommate has a renters insurance policy, don’t expect it to cover all of your stuff too.  Most rental insurance policies only cover the belongings of the policyholder.  Roommates can purchase a policy together if they’d like, with each roommate listed as a policyholder.

Renters insurance covers your possessions, liability and additional living expenses. Let’s take a look at these three types of protection:

Possessions

Standard renters insurance protects your personal belongings against damage from fire, smoke, lightning, vandalism, theft, explosion, windstorm, water and other disasters listed in the policy. Floods and earthquakes are not covered.

To decide how much insurance to buy, you need to know the value of all your personal possessions—including furniture, clothing, electronics, appliances, kitchen utensils and even towels and bedding. The easiest way to figure this out is to create a home inventory, a detailed list of all of your personal possessions and their estimated value.

There are two types of renters insurance policies for your possessions:

  • Actual Cash Value pays to replace your possessions minus an amount for depreciation (the reduction in the value of items due to age and use) up to the limit of your policy.
  • Replacement Cost pays the full cost of replacing your possessions (with no deduction for depreciation), up to the limit of your policy. The price of Replacement Cost coverage is about 10 percent more than Actual Cash Value coverage, but can be well worth the additional cost.

Note that a standard renters policy offers only limited coverage for items such as jewelry, silver, furs, etc. If you own property that exceeds these limits, it is recommended that you supplement your policy with a floater. A floater is a separate policy that provides additional insurance for your valuables and covers them for perils not included in your policy such as accidental loss.

Liability

Standard renters insurance policies also provide liability protection in the event you or members of your family cause injury to others or damage their property.  It also pays for damage your pets cause.

If you are sued, the liability portion of a renters policy may pay for both the cost of defending you in court and for court awards, up to the limit of the policy. Liability limits generally start at about $100,000. Your policy may also provide No-Fault Medical coverage. If visitors are injured in your home, regardless of fault, you can submit their medical bills directly to your insurance company. You can generally get $1,000 to $5,000 worth of this coverage. It does not however, pay medical bills for your own family or your pets.

Additional Living Expenses

Many people are pleasantly surprised to learn that Additional Living Expense (ALE) coverage is typically included in a renters insurance policy. If the home or apartment you are renting is damaged or destroyed and you need to live elsewhere while it is being repaired or rebuilt, renters insurance will cover your additional living expenses—namely the difference between your regular living expenses and the additional costs incurred by having to live away from your home, such as hotel bills, temporary rentals, restaurant meals, etc.

Need help deciding what coverage is best for you? Contact one of our agents at West Town Insurance Agency today at 252-368-4017!

*Insurance Information Institute, September 30, 2009

*Is renters insurance worth it for college students?, August 19, 2013, Angela Johnson, http://money.cnn.com/2013/08/19/pf/expert/renters-insurance/

Do You Have Enough Coverage to Rebuild Your Home?

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Imagine how devastating it would be to lose your home in a fire. Now imagine not being able to rebuild it completely because you didn’t have the correct amount of insurance.

Selecting the proper amount of coverage is the single most important decision you can make with your Homeowners policy. Without it, you may not have enough coverage to rebuild after a total loss. This is called “insurance to value.” Below are some explanations and tips to help you make the right choices for your needs — and remember, if you need help, we’re just a phone call away!

What is insurance to value?

Insurance to value is the relationship between the amount of coverage selected (typically listed as “Coverage A” or “Dwelling Coverage” on your policy declarations page) and the amount required to rebuild your home.  Insuring your home for anything less than 100% insurance to value could mean you wouldn’t have enough coverage to replace your home in the event of a total loss

Why is the cost to rebuild different from the market value?

A home’s market value reflects current economic conditions, taxes, school districts, the value of the land and location, and other factors unrelated to construction cost.  The cost to rebuild your home is based only on the cost of materials and labor in your area.  It is important that you insure your home based on its reconstruction cost, NOT its current market value

Why is reconstruction more expensive than new construction?

New-home builders typically build many homes at once, and solicit bids from various sub-contractors to receive the best pricing. Their business model is based on economies of scale. For example, they may purchase 20 bathtubs at once, securing a lower unit cost. These economies of scale don’t exist when building a single home.

How can I make sure I have the correct amount of insurance?

Work with your agent at West Town Insurance Agency to provide detailed information at time of purchase to be sure that you receive a thorough and accurate quote.

Ask us about additional coverage options that may be available.

Review your insurance to value calculation on a regular basis with your agent.

Tell your agent about any changes or improvements that you make to your home.

Agents at West Town Insurance Agency can help you determine your coverage needs. Contact us today at 252-368-4017 to make sure you are properly covered.

 

Fireworks Safety Tips

For most of us, the Fourth of July is a time to enjoy the company of family and friends, having fun and creating memories – whether at home or away on vacation.

But for some families, the holiday is a nightmare. Homes each year are damaged by wayward fireworks. Thousands of people are injured in accidents.

At West Town Insurance Agency, we want your holiday to be happy, but also safe. So here are some tips to help you protect yourself and your property on the Fourth.

Protecting yourself (and others)

  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
  • To minimize the risk of injury, don’t use consumer fireworks. Attend a public display conducted by professionals in downtown Edenton or elsewhere.
  • If using consumer fireworks, always follow instructions. Do not attempt to re-light “duds” or create homemade fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Never let children handle or light fireworks. Even sparklers, which burn at more than 1,000 degrees, can cause third-degree burns. Kids under the age of 15 account for approximately 40% of fireworks injuries, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
  • A responsible adult should always be present when children – even teenagers – are around fireworks. More than half of fireworks injuries happen to those younger than 20 years old.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.  Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

Fireworks Graphic

Source: Graphic courtesy of United States Consumer Product Safety Commission: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/Fireworks/

Protecting your home

  • According to the National Fire Protection Association, the best way to protect your home is to not use fireworks at home.
  • Remember, fireworks can cause grass fires and other types of blazes as well. Make sure you light fireworks in a safe area, away from homes and buildings, as well as other combustible material. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergency.
  • Look out for tree limbs or bushes that could catch fire. Trimming vegetation to keep it away from your home is a good idea anyway, but it could save you from a catastrophic fire on the Fourth of July.
  • If your gutters have accumulated leaves, pine needles or other flammable material, clean them before using fireworks near your home.
  • Finally, if you won’t be home on the holiday, ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your house if others in your neighborhood will be using fireworks.

With some common sense and planning, the Fourth of July can be both safe and enjoyable for everyone. Whether you’re staying at home or heading to downtown Edenton, everyone at West Town Insurance Agency hopes you have a wonderful time celebrating our independence!

 

Should You Be Worried About Your Appliance Hoses?

Water Damage to Home

There’s a ticking time bomb in your house right now, waiting to strike when you least expect it. In fact, there might even be more than one. And each can cause thousands and thousands of dollars in damage.

We are talking about faulty appliance hoses, of course.

Consider your humble washing machine: According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), washing-machine failures cost an average of more than $5,000, and faulty hoses are responsible for more than half of those failures.

You can take steps to defuse these ticking time bombs — or at least make them less likely to go off. Here are the common hoses and tubes you should be checking:

Washing Machine

Most washing machines come with rubber hoses that connect to your water supply — hoses that can wear out and eventually burst. The IBHS says to check frequently for blisters, worn tubing, stress cracks and loose connections. Even if there is no obvious wear, replace hoses every five years. Use a reinforced steel-braided hose, as they are less likely to fail.

Dryer

Although you should clean the lint trap in your dryer with every load, danger lurks behind the dryer as well. Flexible plastic or foil ducting can easily trap lint and increase the risk of fire, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The agency recommends the use of a rigid or semi-rigid metal duct instead. Whichever you use, be sure to disconnect and clean the ducting annually.

Refrigerator

If your refrigerator has an icemaker or water dispenser, it also has a hose connecting it to the water supply. Replace the standard hose with a steel-braided line for added security.

Dishwasher

Dishwasher leaks can easily go undetected, so it’s important to check these connections regularly as well. Make sure that hoses and lines have no kinks, and periodically remove and clean the filter in the dishwasher, which is designed to stop food pieces from making it into the drain hose.

Gas Grills

At least once a year (typically when you fire up the grill for the first time after winter), check the hose connecting the fuel source to the burners. Simply brush it with some soapy water, turn the gas on (do not light the grill) and check the hose for air bubbles. If you see any, replace the hose and fitting.

In addition to checking your hoses regularly and replacing them when needed, there are monitoring systems available now that can automatically shut off your water supply in the event of a failure. Some detect leaks with moisture indicators, while at least one new system actually checks your water meter for unusual activity.

To further protect you, your homeowners insurance may cover certain damage that results from appliance hose failures. But, it all depends on the circumstances of your situation and on your specific policy. You may find that an appliance hose failure is not covered by your insurance, so it’s best to maintain your appliances to avoid damage in the first place.

If you have questions about your homeowners insurance coverage or need help with a claim, we here at West Town Insurance Agency are happy to help.  Give us a call at 252-368-4017 or stop by our office at 216 S. Broad Street, Suite 301, Edenton, NC.