Costs of Commercial Vehicle Accidents Skyrocket

Depending on the type of business you own, you or your employees may drive regularly on the job. Maybe you own a delivery service or trucking business, but regardless of how you and employees use commercial vehicles, your company risks accidents. And this risk is real; there are more than 5 million commercial vehicle accidents annually.

If that doesn’t convince you to carry commercial auto insurance, consider this: The average commercial vehicle accident with injuries costs an employer $74,000, and $500,000 or more when fatalities occur. And that’s not likely to change any time soon.

But what’s a commercial auto policy like? What are the most common commercial vehicle accidents? How do you file a claim? And most importantly, how can they be prevented? The most common commercial auto claims are often covered by a process similar to those for personal auto policies, as described below:

No-fault accidents: Insurers will file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurer, and the other party’s collision and/or liability coverage will pay for your repairs and incidental expenses. If the other person doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t carry enough coverage to pay your claim, your commercial policy would pay out under uninsured/underinsured motorists’ coverage.

At-fault employee accidents: Collision coverage would pay for your damage, and your liability coverage (property damage and/or bodily injury) will cover the other party’s claim.

When an employee hits an animal: Your commercial policy’s comprehensive coverage would pay for the damages to your vehicle.

Damage by something beyond your control: This includes hitting an animal, damage resulting from poor weather conditions, theft, broken glass, falling tree limbs, and more. Your comprehensive coverage would pay in this scenario.

In a minor accident, or if you or one of your employees is at fault, evaluate whether it’s worth filing a claim. If damage costs add up to less than your deductible, it may be better to pay them out of pocket to avoid harming your claim-free status. However, if you need to file, follow these steps immediately:

  • Determine if anyone is injured, and contact the police or ambulance service.
  • Contact your insurer to report the accident.
  • Collect and record important information before making a claim; this should include names, license plate numbers, witness contact information, vehicle information, and insurance information.
  • Record accident details. Take pictures of the accident.
  • Make a claim.

Preventing Commercial Auto Insurance Claims: You want to avoid claims, but accidents happen. Taking measures to prevent claims is crucial and include:

  • Keeping safety checklists in company vehicles. .
  • Coaching employees on safe driving, and setting rules, including hands-free phones only and seatbelts required.
  • Establishing commercial vehicle safety criteria and checking it regularly.

If an accident happens on the clock, you’ll be glad you obtained the right coverage, especially in an at-fault accident; when commercial vehicles are responsible, you’re more likely to see larger claims and lawsuits. And with commercial vehicle accident costs skyrocketing, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Workers Comp Protects You and Your Employees

Whether you own a large or small business, workers compensation insurance is a must. Some states require it, but regardless of whether or not it’s required, this important policy protects your employees and your business.

Workers compensation insurance protects you from being sued. If an employee is injured on the job, that employee can sue you for injuries developed as a result of the accident. With workers compensation, an injured employee forfeits the right to sue and receives cash benefits to cover medical expenses, lost wages, or other incidental expenses.

Costs

Without workers compensation, you’d be liable for damages that are probably well in excess of your workers compensation premiums. Your insurance professional can explain how rates are determined in your area. It’s important that employees notify you immediately if they’re injured while working. Plan for this eventuality and post the plan for workers to see. Naturally, your first step is to deal with the employee’s injury, then file a claim.

Claims

Workers compensation claims are investigated; ensure you provide as much information as possible. Once the claim is deemed legitimate, your workers compensation insurance will pay benefits to the injured employee. Workers compensation is a safety net for employees, but also provides protection for your business.

If you don’t have a workers compensation policy, talk to your insurance agent immediately…for everyone’s sake.

How to Monitor Your Teen’s Driving Habits

As every parent knows, paying for a teen’s auto insurance isn’t pleasant. In fact, many would call it painful, as teens can cause their parents’ insurance rates to increase by as much as 500 percent.

If you’re paying, you’ll be glad to know there are now ways to make your teen somewhat responsible for their premiums. And it benefits them, even if they don’t realize it.

Monitor grades
If your teen maintains a GPA of at least 3.0, most insurers will extend a “Good Student Discount,” with savings on premiums of 3-7 percent.

You can also make your young driver responsible for maintaining good grades by tying driving privileges to marks.

Outlaw cellphone use while driving

Put your foot down when it comes to cellphone use- especially texting – while driving. There’s no bigger danger or distraction when driving, and as you know, most teens constantly communicate through texting.

Insist your teen keep the cellphone in the trunk or out of reach while driving so he or she isn’t tempted to use it. Monitor cellphone records to ensure your driver isn’t using it while driving. You’re helping prevent serious accidents, while at the same time keeping premiums low.

Control when your teen drives

The riskiest time for driving is between midnight and 6 a.m. Make it a rule that your teen doesn’t drive during these hours.

While teen drinking and driving is a lethal combination, don’t pretend it won’t happen. Encourage your teen to ask you for a ride if he or she has been drinking, and warn but don’t punish when it happens.

More accidents occur on Saturdays, so minimize the time your teen spends driving on weekends. This is difficult, because that’s when they meet friends or go to work, but try to come up with creative ways reduce weekend driving; you’ll be minimizing risks and lowering premiums.

Don’t Skip the Forks in Your Household Inventory

Some people think it’s mandatory to have a record of all your possessions to get homeowners or renters insurance. This isn’t true, but an inventory can still be a valuable tool. While the idea of going through every nook and cranny of your home and creating a record of every item likely doesn’t appeal, making an inventory is a good way to determine if you have enough coverage, whether it’s homeowners or renters insurance.

Both policies provide protection for personal belongings: Renters insurance allows you to choose a coverage amount, and homeowners insurance typically covers personal belongings for a percentage of your home’s value.

For example, if your home is worth $250,000, and your belongings are covered at 10 percent of your home’s value, you’ll have $25K coverage. This may be enough for some, but not for others, illustrating why an inventory is important. Here’s how to conduct one:

  • List and estimate the value of large items first, such as your sofa, bed, and appliances.
  • Record and value household items such as clothing, sheets, and towels.
  • Include the value of small things such as forks. Most of us accumulate “stuff”, and it’s easy to forget how much you’d miss eating with those forks.
  • Once you’ve estimated the value of everything, tally it up.
  • Double that amount for a rough idea of how much coverage you need. If you have valuable items, such as jewelry, paintings, or collectibles, talk to your insurance professional about scheduling them.

Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Health Insurance

Whether it’s a personal policy or affordable family health insurance you seek, there’s no question about it: Shopping for health insurance can be difficult. You probably know what to look for, but here are some things you should avoid when buying health insurance.

Spur-of-the-moment purchases

With hundreds of different insurers offering different products at different rates, don’t sign on the dotted line until you check with your current insurer. You could shop around to see what’s available, but chances are your insurance professional – who knows your personal situation well – is better able to find the right health insurance policy to meet your needs.

Choosing unfamiliar dot-coms

Obtaining insurance online is tempting; but you don’t know them…and they don’t know you. It’s easy to make promises online – and many dot-com companies do just that – but can they keep them?

One of the most common promises is: “We – Company X – can give you the lowest rates from insurance provider, Company Y.” Don’t be misled into thinking this is a thorough quote comparison; the policy’s cost will likely be the same. You need to be presented with options and/or ways to cut your rates. By buying online you miss the chance to negotiate.

Researching online can help you learn what’s available, but buying online limits your options.

Getting “low-balled”

Good things don’t always come in small packages, especially when it comes to health insurance policies. Just because a rate looks good doesn’t mean you’re scoring a deal: Read the fine print. Too many people can miss important points such as who your in-network providers will be or what your deductible is. Read everything carefully and ask questions – it’s smart, and it’s your right.

Finally, if you’re unsure about the policy you need, discuss your situation with your insurance professional. He or she will give you the straight goods, unlike many of the other guys.

Employer/Employee Health Benefits’ Concerns

The U.S. is easing into healthcare reform: Some of its changes are already implemented, and some are yet to come. It’s difficult for employers to know what to do in uncertain times, but one trend causing concern is the growth in numbers of employers requesting their employees have health checkups. The checkups are considered by the company in deciding how much to pay towards employee health insurance.

For example, if an employee is obese, smokes, and has high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, the company may not pay as much as it pays towards “healthier” co-workers.

Supporters say this offers employees a financial incentive to get fit and healthy. Others believe it’s discriminatory and an invasion of privacy. Healthier employees tend to support the medical testing, as their costs will be reduced. There have been court challenges.

The fact is that for many employers this represents one important way to keep health insurance costs down. Many companies are unable to provide any health insurance to employees, and these employees are then required to purchase individual policies on their own. Some employees asked to get medical checkups say they prefer this to not having benefits.

As well, medical testing by employers is on the rise. A survey quoted in USA Today indicates that the number of employers who introduced such plans increased from 49 percent in 2010 to 54 percent in 2011, and growth continues; the numbers are expected to jump this year, when employers will be able to offer greater financial incentives to healthier employees.


Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Health Insurance

Whether it’s a personal policy or affordable family health insurance you seek, there’s no question about it: Shopping for health insurance can be difficult. You probably know what to look for, but here are some things you should avoid when buying health insurance.

Spur-of-the-moment purchases

With hundreds of different insurers offering different products at different rates, don’t sign on the dotted line until you check with your current insurer. You could shop around to see what’s available, but chances are your insurance professional – who knows your personal situation well – is better able to find the right health insurance policy to meet your needs.

Choosing unfamiliar dot-coms

Obtaining insurance online is tempting; but you don’t know them…and they don’t know you. It’s easy to make promises online – and many dot-com companies do just that – but can they keep them?

One of the most common promises is: “We – Company X – can give you the lowest rates from insurance provider, Company Y.” Don’t be misled into thinking this is a thorough quote comparison; the policy’s cost will likely be the same. You need to be presented with options and/or ways to cut your rates. By buying online you miss the chance to negotiate.

Researching online can help you learn what’s available, but buying online limits your options.

Getting “low-balled”

Good things don’t always come in small packages, especially when it comes to health insurance policies. Just because a rate looks good doesn’t mean you’re scoring a deal: Read the fine print. Too many people can miss important points such as who your in-network providers will be or what your deductible is. Read everything carefully and ask questions – it’s smart, and it’s your right.

Finally, if you’re unsure about the policy you need, discuss your situation with your insurance professional. He or she will give you the straight goods, unlike many of the other guys.

Life Insurance Is Possible with a Serious Illness

Your health affects your ability to obtain life insurance, and the rate you’ll pay for it (in some cases increasing your premium by as much as 100 percent), but that doesn’t mean you need to worry if you’ve battled a serious illness; you may be able to get reasonable coverage anyway.

According to the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE), 2-4 percent of life insurance applications are rejected annually. That said, many people with pre-existing medical conditions whose applications have been approved will pay higher premiums.

What medical conditions should concern you?

You’re unlikely to get insurance with HIV/AIDS, and there are health conditions that could increase the price you’ll pay. The top five are: cardiovascular problems (such as a recent heart attack, bypass surgery, or valve surgery), stroke (even a mini-stroke), diabetes, cancer, and Hepatitis C.

While conditions such as these will likely increase your premium, it may only be for a period of time. Active cancers, for example, may lead to a denial of coverage. However, insurers may consider offering coverage – perhaps even at standard rates, and especially for some types of breast and prostate cancer – after two to five years of remission.

Insurance companies have different underwriting preferences: If you suffer from pre-existing medical conditions and want life insurance, you should talk to your insurance agent. He or she will be able to advise you on what to do if your application is turned down. Insurance companies have different underwriting preferences, so even though one may reject your application,
another one may accept it.

Your agent may contact an impaired risk specialist on your behalf. This specialized agent can make inquiries of other insurance companies at no cost to you.

You’ll only need to proceed with a formal application and medical exam if the impaired risk specialist indicates the situation looks promising.