Things You Never Knew Were Covered by Auto Insurance

When you’re involved in a fender bender, you know you should call your insurance agent.

If your car gets keyed or a stray rock cracks your windshield, you are pretty sure your auto insurance policy has you covered.

What about other, more unusual circumstances? Did you know the following situations are often covered by auto insurance?

When the sky is falling: It’s rare, but it happens. If a piece of satellite, airplane, or meteorite hits your vehicle, your comprehensive auto insurance probably covers the cost of repairs. Look for a “falling objects” clause.

When you need rodent repairs: When mice, squirrels, or rabbits decide to take up residence under your hood, they can be quite destructive. Keep this in mind if your vehicle will be parked for long periods of time. If mice munch your wires, check with your carrier to see if your policy includes an “other than collision” clause that will cover this damage.

When Spot needs stitches: Does your dog ever go for a joyride in your car? If you’re in an accident that results in pet injury, your auto insurance policy may cover the vet bills.

When the seat’s not safe: Even if it looks OK, a child’s car seat might be damaged after an accident. It’s a good idea to go ahead and replace it. They aren’t cheap, but your insurance may cover this cost.

When potholes cause pitfalls: Many auto insurance policies categorize pothole accidents as collisions. If so, the damage caused by your run-in with one of these road pits will be covered.

When payday comes up short: Did you miss work due to a car accident injury? A portion of your lost income may be recoverable through your auto insurance policy.

If you experience any of these encounters, contact your agent to determine if your policy provides coverage.

Car Sharing and Auto Insurance: What You Need to Know

More and more car owners are looking to their vehicles as sources of potential income. The family sedan is no longer simply a tool to get to work, and it does more than deliver pizzas.

Peer-to-peer car-sharing services have made it possible to “rent” a personal vehicle to other drivers who are seeking transportation. If you don’t drive your car every day, this can be a fairly simple way to earn a little extra cash.

However, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind regarding car sharing and auto insurance. Using your vehicle in this way can greatly affect your coverage.

First, your policy may not cover your vehicle while it is being driven by other people under a car-sharing agreement.

Your carrier doesn’t have any information about who is driving your car or their driving record, so the coverage cannot extend to them. If someone is in an accident or your car is stolen while he or she is using it, you may not have coverage.

Second, you are making money with this arrangement. This puts your vehicle use into a business category, rather than personal. Again, this might negate coverage from your personal policy.

Due to these circumstances, car-sharing services typically offer their own auto insurance.

If you’re considering offering your vehicle for peer-to-peer car sharing, first consult with your insurance provider.

Someone there can advise you about your coverage and help you determine if this is a viable option for the use of your vehicle.

Is Your Life Insurance Beneficiary Up to Date?

When Minnesota couple Mark Sveen and Kaye Melin married, Mark made Kaye his life insurance policy’s primary beneficiary, and when they divorced ten years later, Mark forgot to change that.

As a result, when he passed away, Kaye was still his primary beneficiary – much to the despair of his adult children. They were so angry about the matter that they filed a lawsuit and took the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

This situation may sound extreme, but mix-ups over life insurance beneficiaries are common.

Since the last thing you want for your loved ones after you die is bickering, it’s important to keep your life insurance policy beneficiaries up to date.

It is important to name both a primary and contingent beneficiary. Your primary beneficiary will receive your life insurance policy proceeds when you die – unless he or she dies before you do, in which case your contingent beneficiary will get the money.

The main factor to consider when naming beneficiaries is who likely needs your financial support after you are gone.

When you have a spouse who is a homemaker with young children, the decision is easy. When you are divorced with adult children, it may not be. That is possibly what led Mark Sveen to leave his family in such a pickle.

So what happened? A Minnesota federal court sided with Sveen’s children because of a 2002 Minnesota state law stating that a divorce automatically invalidates the naming of a former spouse as a life insurance policy beneficiary.

But an appeals court sided with Sveen’s ex-wife, because the US Constitution’s so-called contracts clause prevents states from creating any laws that impair “the obligation of contracts.”

Now the case is with the US Supreme Court, and its decision could affect the validity of similar laws in as many as twenty-eight other states.

Three Crowd-Control Tips to Reduce Risk at Company Events

Summer is often a time for company picnics and business conventions. As you schedule these events, keep crowd control in mind. A lack of organization and structure can increase risk of injury and property damage. Use the following tips to keep your outing running smoothly and avoid any unnecessary incidents that could result in insurance claims.

Control the flow: From parking to food lines to dance floors, use methods to manage the crowd and keep people moving efficiently. This will help avoid congestion, which can cause accidents. It will also create a more enjoyable event. Mark entrances and exits clearly. Control how many people flow through small areas simultaneously. If the event is of a significant size, provide staff or security to direct crowd flow.

Put a plan in place: Before any event, establish an emergency response plan. This should include evacuation procedures as well as responses to individual medical emergencies. Be prepared to respond to crime, too. Your plans should include what to do in case of theft or violent incidents.

Communicate clearly: It’s not enough to simply have ideas or create a plan. Communicate all information to staff and guests of the event. Be sure all staff who are helping run the event are well-versed in the emergency procedures. Let guests know what is expected of them concerning crowd control. This clear communication will help keep things running smoothly and reduce the risk of incidents.

For additional tips on how to reduce claims at events, contact your insurance provider.

Choosing Business Coverage: The Goldilocks Method

One bed was too small. One was too big. Goldilocks didn’t rest until she found just the right size.

It’s important that you do the same for your commercial insurance coverage. A variety of policies are available, and yours should be customized to suit the needs of your business. These needs are different depending on whether your business is home-based, small, medium, or large. Your agent can walk you through the many options to determine what is best for your company. Use the following overview to get started.

Home-Based Businesses

These companies are based out of the owner’s home and typically have zero to one additional employees on the payroll. This scenario is extremely common, as many businesses start out this way. Often, the business enjoys success, grows, and relocates to a commercial setting.

In the meantime, it’s important to have appropriate insurance coverage while the business is in the home. Too often, owners assume their homeowner’s policy will cover their home-based business. This coverage may offer some protection, but it will not necessarily provide the full coverage you need. It’s important to discuss the operations of your business with your agent to determine whether you need additional limits or a commercial policy.

Small Businesses

A small business is loosely defined as one that employs fewer than 100 personnel and generates annual revenue of less than $5 million.

If this describes your business, you probably qualify for a BOP. This “business owner’s policy” combines several policies. It offers the basic coverages you need as a small business owner in one convenient policy. A BOP generally includes property insurance, general liability insurance, and business interruption insurance. Additional options are available to customize the policy further for your specific needs. This BOP provides adequate protection at an affordable rate.

Medium-Sized Businesses

If your business has outgrown baby-bear size but hasn’t reached papa-bear status, you are running a medium-sized business. This sized company typically employs more than 100 but less than 1,000 staff and earns annual revenues between $10 million and $1 billion.

Because your needs are different than those of small or large businesses, insurance providers generally offer specialized policies for medium-sized business. You may still be able to combine your property and liability coverage, but you may also need extended coverage for equipment or multiple locations. Your agent can review the specifics of your business to customize a policy that offers just the right coverage for your company’s needs.

Large Businesses

Most businesses that have more than 500 employees are considered large businesses. Their revenues vary based on the type of business. What they have in common is multimillion-dollar risks. Many have risk management professionals on staff to assess these risks and develop plans to minimize them. An insurance professional can also assist with this task.

Large businesses often require multiple policies, and coverage must be tailored to the industry. Industry leaders often have greater liability risk. Factory-based businesses may have greater personal injury risk. Your insurance agent can customize your coverage to ensure your business has the protection it needs.

Top Ten Questions to Ask Your Pharmacist

A visit to the doctor often results in a new prescription. However, your doctor may not have time to answer questions you have about the prescription. According to Medscape, doctors spend thirteen to sixteen minutes with each patient. This isn’t a lot of time to review symptoms, perform an exam, and discuss medications. Therefore, your pharmacist can be your best source of information about a new prescription.

Pharmacists have more knowledge about medicines than do any other medical specialists. They complete three years of undergraduate work studying science and then earn a doctorate from an accredited pharmacy school.

These experts are your best defense against prescription errors. Take time to consult with your pharmacist whenever you receive a new drug. Cover these basic questions:

  1. Will this medication conflict with other medications I take?
  2. What is this medication prescribed for, and what can I expect it to do? (You may be expecting a total remission of symptoms from the drug, but the drug may only reduce symptoms.)
  3. What are the short-term and long-term side effects of this medication?
  4. If the side effects become intolerable, what should I do?
  5. Does this medication have any special storage considerations?
  6. Since I’m on several drugs, can I take them all at the same time?
  7. Is a generic version of the drug available?
  8. Should I take the medication with food?
  9. What if I miss a dose?
  10. What can I expect if I stop taking the drug?

Partner with Your Doctor to Reduce Prescription Costs

The cost of medical care keeps rising, including prescription costs. To lower the cost of prescriptions, many patients turn to generic medications. However, many doctors don’t offer generics as a first choice.

When you visit your doctor, always speak frankly about your finances, especially if you are on Medicare and approaching the dreaded coverage gap, or “donut hole.” In 2018, this gap begins when you spend $3,750 and ends when you spend $5,000 on prescription drugs. While Part D Medicare enrollees will receive a discount on drugs purchased in that gap, they’re still spending a lot of money for medications between TrOOP (true out-of-pocket) and copay expenses.

To save money, always ask your doctor if generic options are available. Doctors may hesitate to recommend some generic drugs because they believe the generic is not as effective. If that’s the case, ask your doctor if there is a comparable generic medication that might be as effective.

If you’re taking medications for chronic diseases and your insurer’s pharmacy has a mail-order prescription service, ask your doctor to write a 90-day prescription with appropriate refills. Your doctor can electronically transmit your prescription, and you can order online or by phone when you need refills. Most mail-order pharmacies have an automatic refill option, so you’ll never run out of important medications.

If you can split a medication, ask your doctor to write the prescription in a higher dosage, and then buy a pill splitter to cut the dose in half.

Never skip medications such as cholesterol-lowering drugs to save money. Failing to take medications for chronic conditions can be devastating, possibly leading to stroke, heart attack, or, in the case of transplant recipients, organ rejection.

Finally, always price-shop your drugs. You can easily compare prices online with programs such as WellRx.com or edrugsearch.com. Additionally, GoodRx.comoffers prescription coupons, which can help you save on essential medications.