Archive | August 2014

Do I Need to Buy Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

teen car insuranceUninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (referred to as UM or UIM, respectively), is a unique form of auto insurance in that it gives drivers an added opportunity to protect themselves from “out there”—specifically, all those people driving with little or no auto liability insurance.

While most states have mandatory minimum limits of liability required of all drivers, many of these requirements are less than sufficient in covering injuries sustained in an auto accident. Hence, the need for UM. Some states also require a minimum amount of UM be purchased; however, many leave that decision to the driver.

In addition to its unique nature, UM is an often misunderstood form of auto insurance. A common question folks ask is why someone should pay for UM if they are covered under some other form of medical or disability insurance? The answer involves understanding what UM will pay for that other policies will not.

UM policies agree to pay for compensatory damages. This term is not specifically defined in a UM policy because its intention is to cover a broad arrangement of expenses you personally incur at the fault of an underinsured driver. While it’s true that some expenses like medical costs may also be covered by your health insurance, others may not be. These expenses include disability income, injuries to passengers, and non-economic losses like pain and suffering.

Further, escalating health costs are leaving more folks without health insurance. In 2007, the number of Americans without any health insurance eclipsed 46 million. Many of these folks drive cars and are one auto accident with an underinsured driver away from financial ruin. For someone with no other medical insurance, UM is an essential, affordable coverage.

So how much UM insurance should you purchase? Since costs like those mentioned above that are covered by your UM can be expensive, it is always recommended that you carry the highest limits available. Lower limits could lead to insufficient dollars available to pay a claim, or worse. Some states’ laws actually prevent recovery under your UM policy if the limits are equal to the state’s minimum auto liability requirement unless the driver who hits you has no insurance at all. While there are certainly those out there, most drivers have at least enough to satisfy their state requirement. Because state laws concerning UM coverage vary, it is important to call your agent when considering changes to your auto insurance.

In a perfect world there would be no need for UM coverage; however there are still quite a few people out there who still haven’t discovered the importance of buying adequate auto insurance. You never know who’s going to cause your next accident. UM can help you rest assured that even if they aren’t covered, you will be.


College Bound

After a long day of work, you check the mailbox and see the letter your family has been waiting to receive for weeks.  The letter is from one of the colleges your child has applied for, and it feels heavier than the other letters that have come. As a parent, no matter how old they get, you can never stop worrying about your children. It is easy to think about what you can do to protect your baby when they leave you soon, because you know that this letter is the ONE.   Tower Insurance Agency is here to help you and your soon-to-be college student.

Insurance on your College Student’s Car?

Insuring a young driver is expensive. Some parents opt to take a cheaper route, by putting a car in their child’s name and getting a totally separate auto policy under the child’s name. While this saves a few dollars, in the long run it can be detrimental if your child is involved in an accident as most policies offer less coverage for a young driver. It is usually better to keep your child on your policy with high limits and an umbrella policy. Also discuss your child, their responsibility in sharing cars with roommates and friends. It is not uncommon for a student to drive his/her roommate’s car on occasion, and there can be issues if neither party is properly insured.

Are my College Student’s appliances and computer covered while away at school?

While every policy is different, most homeowner’s policies cover personal property “owned or used” by an insured if it is damaged or lost due to a covered peril. Your child is an insured as courts have determined that dependent children are covered, even when away from home. Another common stipulation can be that under some policies, personal property usually located at an insured’s residence, other than the resident premises, is only allotted 10% of the policy’s coverage. For instance, if you have a policy for $100,000 and your child loses $15,000 worth of property while away at school, the policy will only cover $10,000, and you would be responsible for the additional $5,000.

8 Things to Know About Employers Practice Liability Insurance

epli-insuranceWe live in a litigious society. These days, it is difficult to terminate employment or run a business without the risk of a lawsuit. More and more people in this country are suing employers for wrongs, whether real or perceived, and companies, particularly small businesses, are paying the price. Your business policy’s liability insurance may not protect you from this sort of lawsuit. Instead, you will need employment practices liability insurance.

Here’s what you should know:

1.) According to a study of employment practices litigation data released by Hiscox in April 2014, the average U.S.-based business with at least 10 employees has a 12.5 percent chance of having an employment liability charge filed against them.

2.) California, Illinois, Alabama and Mississippi, as well as the District of Columbia, are the top five riskiest areas for employee lawsuits (Hiscox).

3.) The lowest risk states for EPLI charges include Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Washington and West Virginia (Hiscox).

4.) During the fiscal year of 2011, 15,796 individuals filed 16,974 complaints alleging employment discrimination against the federal government (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Annual Report on the Federal Work Force Part I, EEO Complaints Processing).

5.) Wage and hour lawsuits in federal court have increased for seven straight years and have increased 438 percent since 2000, according to information from law firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP.

6.) 7,764 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) cases were filed as of March 31, 2013, up 10 percent from 2012, according to the Federal Judicial Center.

7.) As of March 31, 2014, wage and hour lawsuits increased to 8,126, up 4.7 percent over the prior 12-month period. (Federal Judicial Center)

8.) Large insurers focused on all sizes of insureds raised rates for EPLI coverage by 10 percent in 2013, according to The Betterley Report’s December 2013 “Employment Practices Liability Market Survey”.

What to Do Before, During and After a Thunderstorm

Summer can bring some severe storms to Northeast Ohio. According to the National Weather Service, lightning strikes account for an average of 54 deaths per year in the United States, so when thunderstorms are in the forecast, it’s usually a sign to head indoors and if you have to put away the golf clubs for a few hours or head in off of the lake to wait out the storm, it’s worth it.  Here are some tips on what to do before, during and after a thunderstorm.

Before a thunderstorm

  • Remove dead tree branches near your house which could ignite and cause a fire if struck by lightning.
  • Unplug all appliances before the storm hits to prevent power surges.
  • Close blinds and shades.

During a thunderstorm

  • Keep away from windows.
  • Avoid using the phone. Telephone lines can conduct electricity.
  • Stay away from faucets, sinks and bathtubs.
  • If you are in or near water, go to land immediately and find the best shelter you can— preferably inside a building rather than a car.
  • If you’re in a car, keep the windows closed. Pull to the side of the road to wait until the heavy rain subsides. Keep away from trees that could fall on your car.
  • If you are outside, find a location that is not likely to flood. Avoid tall structures, such as towers, trees, fences, telephone lines or power lines.
  • Squat low to the ground and assume a tucked position. Place your hands on your knees with your head tucked between them. Try to touch as little of your body to the ground as possible. Do not lie flat on the ground, as your fully-extended body will provide a larger surface to conduct electricity.
  • If you feel your hair stand on end in a storm, drop into the tuck position immediately. This sensation means electrical charges are already running up your body from the ground toward an electrically charged cloud. If you can minimize your contact with the ground, you will minimize your injury.

After a thunderstorm

Once lightning has struck a person or an object, the person or object does not carry a charge and cannot harm you. So don’t be afraid to touch or assist a person who needs help. Administer first aid or CPR immediately. A lightning victim usually suffers burns in two places on the body—where the lightning entered and where it exited.

If you have questions about how your homeowners insurance protects your property from damage from lightning, contact your insurance agent.