Monthly Archives: August 2013

Are You Done With Paying Comprehensive and Collision Insurance?

auto service callIn this economic climate we are all looking for ways to skim back, trim the fat, however dropping your collision/comprehensive coverage may be a costly decision.

We use our cars for the dreaded carpool, family vacations, to drive mommy dearest to her Doctor’s appointments, as well as to move your son back home for the second time. Lastly, you have just paid his tuition fees for the Fall Semester and this seems to be good time to scale back on expenses. You know you’re a safe driver! And you no longer are required to carry comprehensive and collision coverage, so why not drop it?

In the meantime your vehicle is damaged beyond repair. The other driver is at fault but doesn’t have adequate insurance or any insurance at all to replace your vehicle or the other two parked cars he/she has hit. You will now incur the costs of purchasing a new car.

For example: If at the time of loss, coverage was still in place, your 2010 vehicle valued at $11,000 was subject to a $1,000 deductible; and you and the carrier agree on a settlement of $9,000. A check for $8,000 would surely come in handy.

The average cost for a moderately priced sedan is between $25,000-$30,000. Finance agreements typically last for 4 years. A general rule of thumb would be to drop the coverage for average vehicles after 10 years. Antique or Classic automobiles would be an exception as their value often appreciates.

You can reference for estimates of all types of vehicles. This type of information will help you make an informed decision as to whether or not you should keep Comprehensive and Collision coverage in place.

– Lavette Wright

Do I have to tell my insurance agent about renovations I make to my home?

Q: Do I have to tell my insurance agent about renovations I make to my home?

A: Yes, not only after the renovations are completed but even weeks before they start. Your agent will need to advise you on getting Certificates of Insurance from the contractor so if anything goes wrong you know they are properly insured for any damages or injury they may cause. The renovations may also increase the Replacement Cost of your home. Calling your agent will help avoid unfortunate situations that could leave you underinsured in the event of a claim. You may not get enough money to rebuild your dream home. Call your agent TODAY !

Is My Child Covered Under My Homeowner’s Policy When They Are Away At College?

Girl-playing-violin-piano-and-violin-30905103-800-600Dear Sherri, My daughter will be leaving for college soon and will be residing at the school campus dorm. When she leaves, she will be taking her violin with her, which is valued at $15,000. Since it is now scheduled on my Homeowner’s policy, do I need to do anything else or will it still be covered? Thank you, Strung Up Empty Nester

Dear Strung Up Empty Nester, Congratulations on getting your kids out of the house! Now you have a few years to party before they come back. Concerning the violin, if this item is already scheduled on your policy, the violin will be covered. The first thing you should do is contact your agent and advise them of the new location for the violin at your daughter’s dorm. You will probably be asked some questions, such as where the violin will be kept when she is not using it and if the violin will be in a secured, locked area such as a closet or locked dorm room when not in use. Other than that, forget about the violin and start thinking about the accordion. I hear Paris has some wonderful accordions.
For more information about scheduled items, liability, contents, and information if your child is taking their vehicle to school, see our Guest Equifax blog, “Kids Away At College: Is Insurance Review on your Check list?”

– Sherri

Is Your Business In Danger Without EPL Insurance?

EPLINo smart business owner would ever think of closing down for the day, turning off the lights and leaving with the front door wide open hoping that nobody would come in to steal their assets while they are gone. However, that is the exact situation a business is in when they do not have Employment Practices Liability (EPL) insurance. A business without this coverage has a huge hole or opening in their insurance protection portfolio!

What is EPL insurance?

EPL insurance protects businesses and individuals against losses arising from employment practice disputes involving current and former employees. Common claims include discrimination, sexual harassment, workplace harassment, wrongful termination, failure to promote, invasion of privacy, negligent evaluation, and wrongful discipline, to name just a few. Did you know that your business is at risk of an employment claim from the moment you interview a prospective employee? For example, if you decide, for whatever reason, not to hire the prospect, that individual could allege some sort of discrimination and bring up a statement or a question which arose during the interview process.

As expected, large corporations typically have substantial EPL insurance in place. However, small businesses usually don’t have this coverage and are often the most vulnerable to employment claims. That’s because they usually lack a company handbook, a legal department, or even an HR Department that would be responsible for hiring, disciplining, or terminating employees in strict compliance with all local, state, and Federal laws. An employee bringing an employment case has a 75% chance of winning with an average damage award of $388,128. However, even if your employee loses, it is not uncommon for legal fees associated with a lawsuit to exceed $250,000. When you spend that much on legal fees, it is hard to feel like you have won. So how can you, as a small business owner, reduce your risk of these claims especially given the economic climate we are in today?

1. Prepare an employee handbook detailing your business’ employment policies and procedures for all aspects of employment including procedures for disciplining or terminating an employee. Make sure that each employee is given a copy of the handbook, reads it, and signs a statement acknowledging their receipt of this handbook.

2. Conduct periodic performance evaluations of employees and note the results in the employee’s file.

3. Create an effective record-keeping system to document employee issues as they arise and including steps that were taken to resolve any issues.

4. Create a job description for each position that defines expectations of skills and performance.

5. Institute a zero tolerance policy regarding discrimination, substance abuse, and any form of harassment in the workplace. Also make sure you have an “open door” policy in which employees can report infractions without fear of retaliation.

6. Review your loss exposures with your insurance agent and purchase the right amount of EPL insurance for your business.

While these steps can’t completely eliminate the risk, they can certainly reduce the risk and help you to better defend your business if and when a lawsuit is filed by one of your employees. This is why it is so critical to speak with your insurance agent and fill in this gap in coverage by purchasing an Employment Practices Liability Insurance Policy.

– Ray Alvarez

Is My Personal Property Covered Under My Flood Insurance?

tv-floodsDear Sherri, My husband has a “Man-Cave” in our basement. If our basement should flood, are his toys covered by our flood policy? – Signed Husbandless in NYC

Dear Husbandless in NYC, Unfortunately, no. Most flood policies have very limited coverage for personal contents in a basement. They only cover items meant for a basement, such as water heaters, laundry equipment, etc. A 70-inch home theater doesn’t qualify. However, on the positive side, if you have a flood, you’ll get your husband back! Or is that another negative? Anyway, keep in mind that a homeowner’s policy also excludes flood, so there would be no coverage there as well. The point is, keep those man-caves above ground if you want insurance protection. – Sherri

What Coverage Do I Need For An Above Ground Swimming Pool?

abovegroundpoolDear Sherri, I have decided to take the plunge and install an above ground swimming pool. Do I need to contact my insurance company? – Sincerely, The Plunger

Dear Plunger, Did you NOT watch my Ask Sherri video about Homeowner’s policies and swimming pools? I almost drowned because of that video :). Anyway, the answer is yes, you should definitely call your agent. Installing a pool can bring up many questions, such as; do you need to fence the entire yard or just the pool? Is there a diving board? If so, some companies have special guidelines and recommendations. Some companies will require that you increase your personal liability limits to $1 million due to the increased risk. Also if you already have an umbrella policy, adding a pool can also affect that policy, since you might also have to increase your umbrella limit. These are just a few of the things that will need to be worked out so that you are properly covered.
This is why it is so important to communicate with your agent whenever you have an insurance question or concern. I’m a strong proponent of contacting your agent at least at renewal time to review your coverage, discuss any changes, and confirm you are getting all the coverage you need, such as flood, in-home business, or a personal articles floater just to name a few. I know you are busy, but you don’t want to find out about a missing coverage when you have a claim, so do it at renewal time! Good Luck, and don’t swallow too much water!

– Sherri

Do I Need To Increase My Umbrella Policy Limit Before My Son Get’s A Driver’s License?

umbrellapolicyDear Sherri, My son is going to apply for his driving permit this summer; do I need to increase the limit on my umbrella policy now or can I wait until he is licensed? – Already Worrying in LI

Dear Worrying in LI, Before you do ANYTHING with your insurance, call your doctor and get sedatives. Lots of sedatives! Now, about your umbrella policy, yes, you should increase your limit and you should do it as soon as possible. Too many parents wait until AFTER their teen gets a permit and then they find out it is too late to increase their policy as they desired. Keep in mind that once you have a youthful driver in the household some insurance companies will not allow you to increase your umbrella limit at all or will only allow you to increase your limit by one million. Therefore, after getting those sedatives, call your agent immediately and increase your umbrella limits before your teens get their permits.