Why You Should Read Your Loss History Report

Did you know homes and cars have report cards? Do you know what grade your property deserves?

If you haven’t checked your report, you might want to look into it.

This statement is called a Loss History Report. It provides a record of the insurance claims and losses that are associated with a particular property or car. The report typically covers the previous seven years of claims history. The information is gathered by the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (C.L.U.E.).

When insurers underwrite a policy, they typically refer to this report. The history helps define the risk level and determine the rates for future insurance.

As a consumer, you can check your Loss History Report to ensure accuracy for auto claims. Since errors on the report could result in higher premiums, it’s good to verify that all information is correct. You can obtain one free report per year.

If you discover any mistakes, you can contact LexisNexis, which will look into the claim. Depending on the situation, you may be able to add an explanation to the information that will be included in future reports.

Consumers can also make use of a Loss History Report for real estate transactions. If you are considering a home for purchase, you can request a copy from the sellers. (The owner of the property has to make the request directly to C.L.U.E.)

A review of this report will shed light on any previous damage to the house, which you can then follow up on to verify any repairs before you purchase the home.

Is Your Vehicle Burglar Repellant?

Every 45 seconds, a motor vehicle is stolen in the United States, according to reporting from the Insurance Information Institute.

What can you do to protect your car from becoming part of this statistic?

Use the following tips to make your car less appealing and more secure. These precautions can prevent crime as well as keep your auto insurance premiums lower.

Lock It Down

When the weather is warm, it can be tempting to leave the windows open while your car is parked. You may even decide to keep the doors unlocked, if you are running a quick errand. Don’t do it.

Always keep your windows shut and your doors locked if you’re not in your vehicle. Thieves are faster than you think.

Tuck Them Away

If you have personal property in your car, hide it. Purses and other bags should go in the trunk, where they will not be visible to potential thieves. You don’t want to create a temptation by leaving unattended items in sight.

Light It Up

Make smart choices when parking your car. Look for well-lit areas that are highly trafficked. Try to find the most secure spot in a parking garage, such as near entrances or guard booths, that also offer plenty of light.

Turn Them Off

Let thieves know your vehicle is not a good choice by using anti-theft devices. A steering wheel or gearshift column lock can be an effective way to make your vehicle unappealing to a thief.

If your car is stolen, a tracking device can prove helpful to locate the vehicle. These are included in many newer cars, and they can be purchased to install in older models. These devices may even qualify your vehicle for a discount on your auto insurance.

Is your vehicle fully protected? Contact our office for additional tips or to find out if a particular anti-theft device would reduce your premiums.

Can a Social Media Post Change Your Premium?

We all like to share our adventures with friends and family. Sometimes this happens through social media. This can be a fun way to share photographs of our adventures, from our motorcycling vacation to our rock-climbing weekend.

But these images may be more visible than we think, and broad sharing of such information could affect your life-insurance premiums.

Earlier this year, the state of New York provided guidance as to how life insurers may legally use data science to analyze an applicant’s risk via his or her social media posts.

The good news: The technology needed to study social media accounts to make underwriting decisions is not fully developed. The time required to review each and every applicant’s accounts can be costly, so few insurers are currently doing it.

The bad news: Using such technology to make underwriting decisions is likely inevitable. In fact, some data scientists and industry analysts believe it won’t be long before social media is among the most common data reviewed in life insurance issuance.

This could be a trend for property and car insurance, too. Some insurers are already checking explanations of auto accident claims against Facebook testimonials about the accident.

Just to be safe, you may want to review the privacy settings on each of your social media accounts, ensuring that posts are shared only within your closest network. Also ask friends not to tag you in their photos, and un-tag yourself when they do.

If you really want to be safe, avoid posting photos of yourself engaging in risky behavior, such as smoking, motorcycling, and skydiving, and boast about healthy activities, such as going on cycling trips, running marathons, or simply hiking in the woods.

There’s no guarantee that doing so will help your premiums go down, but if you are going to be that careful, why not show good behavior in addition to avoiding displays of bad behavior?

Taking a Cruise? Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance

Travel insurance can cover a variety of situations, from minor inconveniences to major disasters. Coverage may include trip cancellations, missed connections, accommodations while awaiting new connections, lost passports, and arrangements to get home after a medical emergency.

Taking a cruise, however, means considering a few unique things that can go wrong.

Off-ship excursions top the list for reasons to obtain cruise travel insurance. For example, in Cozumel, Mexico, a cruise beach party included a water slide into the ocean. However, the excursion failed to post warnings about the water depth. One man dove off the seawall and suffered serious spinal injuries.

Even if you aren’t planning any daredevil excursions, you never know what might happen. Make sure your cruise travel insurance includes emergency medical coverage as well as the trip home to receive care.

In other situations, you may need cruise travel insurance to cover evacuation from the ship to a hospital during a serious illness. You may also need to find local medical help if you suffer an injury in a foreign city. A travel policy can help locate international medical help when it’s needed.

With these potential needs in mind, you may want to make travel insurance a priority for your next cruise.

As you choose a policy, ensure that your cruise travel insurance covers the following:

Early return home, for any reason.

Shipboard disruption, such as a fire, mechanical breakdown, or virus that affects a large number of passengers.

Excursion refund, in case the cruise itinerary changes due to weather or another emergency.

Missed connection, to cover the cost of rejoining your ship should you miss your onboarding.

Ship-to-shore, to get you off the ship and to a hospital if your condition calls for evacuation.

It is always best to buy your travel insurance from a health insurance agent you know rather than online. We offer a variety of travel policies and can guide you toward the one that best suits your travel plans.

Medicare Supplement Plans: Can One Size Fit All?

Based on calculations from National Vital Statistics Reports, each day 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 and become Medicare eligible. Americans approaching this key birthday receive a flood of Medicare insurance literature.

However, Medicare coverage isn’t free. Original Medicare has deductibles, copays, and coinsurance, just like private health insurance. Part A covers hospitalization for up to 60 days with a significant deductible. Part B also requires cost-sharing, just like most private health insurance.

A Medicare supplement policy helps reduce your co-pay, deductible, and coinsurance costs. If you’re just turning 65, you don’t want to wait to choose a Medicare supplement policy. Once you sign up for Medicare Part B, you’ll have only six months to choose a plan. However, each year after your first year on Part B, you can change your Medicare supplement during open enrollment, which runs from October 15 to December 7.

As the 2020 election cycle begins, news reports indicate that some politicians are pushing Medicare-for-all as part of their platform. This approach proposes an expansion to cover all US citizens with the single-payer system, which is now in use for Americans over 65 and certain citizens with disabilities.

In one proposed plan, a supplemental private plan would be available. Another proposed plan would allow a choice between private health insurance and buy-in to Medicare.

Confused? Who wouldn’t be? There are many coverage options to understand and various time lines that must be followed. Meet with us so we can help you navigate the maze of plans available and ensure you find the broadest coverage at the best price.

Rented and Personal Vehicles: Are Your Risks Covered?

Are you familiar with hired and non-owned auto (HNOA) insurance? If your business involves vehicle use in any way, this coverage could be crucial for your operations. Here are the FAQs.

What is HNOA insurance?

Hired and non-owned auto insurance provides coverage if an employee uses a personal or rented vehicle for business purposes.

If an employee in these circumstances is in an accident, the company for which they were driving could be held liable for damages. HNOA insurance covers this liability.

Who needs HNOA insurance?

Business owners may assume that if their employees don’t use company vehicles, they don’t have to worry about insurance coverage. This isn’t necessarily true.

The employee’s personal insurance may not always cover the full liability, in which case the litigators may go after the business for which the employee was driving at the time. This makes it important for any business with exposure to this risk to maintain HNOA insurance.

While HNOA insurance is most commonly associated with food delivery tasks, the need for HNOA goes beyond pizza and sandwich delivery. Home health care providers, consultants, contractors, and anyone else who uses their own vehicles or rented vehicles for business-related tasks or travel have HNOA exposure.

Of course, a company with a fleet of inexperienced teens delivering dinners will have a higher risk than a small business with two professionals who attend occasional client meetings. Still, the risk is there, and it should be addressed.

What can business owners do to reduce HNOA exposure?

To reduce their risk, business owners can take several steps. First, they can conduct motor vehicle record checks on employees. This task can be completed twice a year to monitor employee driving. Second, business owners can establish guidelines for who is considered an acceptable driver. The employer can use driving experience, age, and driving records as parameters to set these guidelines.

Modern technology allows for a third method that could be worthwhile for some businesses. This solution is telematics. Using this technology, an employer can monitor the activity of a vehicle and the driver’s performance. The data will reveal whether drivers speed, how they brake, and other information that can be helpful in determining risk. Because they are being monitored, employees may make greater effort to drive safely. Employers can also create reward programs based on telematics data to further incentivize safe driving among employees.

Is HNOA coverage provided by a standard commercial auto insurance policy?

Business owners who have a commercial auto insurance policy may or may not be covered for HNOA situations. Previously, this coverage was often a standard part of commercial auto policies, but the rising frequency and cost of litigation have forced many providers to make it a separate policy. Business owners should check with their carriers to see what coverage is included and what is available.

What’s the next step?

If you’re unsure about your HNOA exposure and insurance needs, contact our office. We can provide a quick review of your policies and risks and make sure you have appropriate coverage.

Are You Underinsured? Most Small Businesses Are

A recent Manta and Insureon survey revealed that fewer than 30% of small business owners have basic business insurance. Even fewer, just 6%, have business interruption insurance, and only a rare few (2%) have cyber insurance.

This lack of insurance can be a costly mistake. These policies are essential for the proper protection of a company in today’s marketplace. Here’s why.

Business owner’s policy: The basic coverage for a small business is a business owner’s policy (BOP). This typically provides general liability and commercial property coverage. The liability portion offers protection in case a customer is injured on your property or you cause damage to a customer’s property. Business and Industry Connection Magazine reports the average cost for a slip-and-fall injury is $20,000. An annual insurance premium is clearly the more affordable option.

Business interruption insurance: When disasters cause damage to a business, operations may be shut down for hours, days, or weeks. The resulting loss of income can be devastating to a company. How much revenue would you lose if you couldn’t open your doors for 10 days? Business interruption insurance replaces the income lost while your business is temporarily closed.

Cyber insurance: Modern businesses are typically dependent on online services in one form or another. This makes their business vulnerable to cybercrime. A study by Kaspersky found that the average cost of a cyber breach for a small business is $86,000. These costs can be avoided with an affordable cyber insurance policy.