March 2011 Newsletter


Prevent Personal
ID Theft

Many insurance companies now offer coverage to address growing concerns about
identity theft. While such coverage is beneficial, preventing this growing crime
from happening will greatly reduce the headaches certain to occur after the
fact. Consider the following tips for personal prevention:

• Install and update firewall and anti-virus software on your computer.

• Use password protections. Most websites containing personal information
first require a login and password. The password you choose is an important step
in preventing unwanted access. Choose a password that includes both letters and
numbers. Steer clear of the obvious (names, birthdates and the word “password”
are too common), and change passwords at least every 90 days. If possible, don’t
write passwords down.

• Don’t respond to e-mails requesting your account information. If you
receive an unusual e-mail from a provider requesting this information, contact
the provider or go to their website, but do not respond to or click on the link
in the e-mail.

• Get a shredder. Shred old mail, financial statements and bills.

• Monitor your credit. Review your credit report at least annually. Look for
changes or suspicious activity and report discrepancies to providers and credit
agencies immediately.

Drivers’ Ed for Adults

Most adults think of drivers’ education as a course taken in school or
something required before obtaining a driver’s license, but that doesn’t have to
be the case. With driving conditions always in flux and more distractions than
ever, even the most mature operators can benefit from a refresher course. As a
bonus, a defensive driving course is sometimes rewarded by auto insurance
companies with a discounted rate, something drivers of all ages can appreciate.
Most defensive driving courses run four to six hours and are offered in various
formats (classroom, online, etc.).

Some local police departments offer defensive behind-the-wheel classes, too,
and often you can find instruction on vehicle safety and maintenance, such as
replacing a flat tire, that can help you avoid accidents and injury in the first
place. See what’s available in your area and become a safer
driver!


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Motorcycle Coverage
Specifics
There are important differences between motorcycle and car insurance. When
searching for the right coverage, bikers should consider the following:• Custom equipment and apparel coverage. Customized equipment and
apparel, including custom paint, chrome additions, saddlebags, helmets and
jackets are not inexpensive to replace if damaged in an accident. But
customization is often not included in a standard policy. Make sure yours
is.

Medical payments coverage. This coverage is essential if you are
injured or injure someone else in an accident. This coverage becomes more
important in situations where the rider’s health insurance specifically excludes
injuries resulting from motorcycling.

Adequate limits of liability. Don’t assume that an accident caused
by a motorcycle will do less damage simply because a motorcycle is smaller than
a car.

Motorcycles are not considered an “auto” under an auto insurance
policy.
Therefore, riders must understand that coverage generally provided
under an auto policy for use of a non-owned auto will not extend to the use of a
motorcycle. Furthermore, claims arising from the use of a motorcycle may be
specifically excluded under the auto policy.

Lock Up When You
Leave

According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics,
over 2 million burglaries have been reported each year since 2000. It is
predicted that one out of every 10 homes will be burglarized this year.

Over 62% of residential burglaries occur during daylight hours. July is the
month with the highest number of burglaries. The fewest are reported in
February. By region, the South is home to most burglaries, followed by the West,
Midwest and Northeast, and the average loss from a residential burglary is
$1,607.

While there are several different ways burglars enter homes, one of the most
common means of prevention is the most simple: keeping doors locked. A majority
of “break-ins” may be better described as “walk-ins”—burglary opportunities
created by property owners who neglect to lock their doors.

Simply keeping doors locked at all times is the first and most important step
in burglary prevention.

Should You Raise Your Auto Liability
Limits?

Most states have laws requiring drivers to carry a minimum amount of
liability insurance. Higher limits are usually available upon request, yet many
drivers do not consider such limits necessary because they are not required.
When reviewing your liability coverage limits, consider the following:

• Don’t forget that accidents often involve injuries to more than one person.
While your liability may seem sufficient in covering injuries to one or even two
people, consider the cost of injuries to several.

• It is possible there may be more than one car involved in an accident you
cause. Consider what would be needed to pay the cost of damages to several
vehicles.

• You never know with whom you will have the accident. Not every accident
will involve young, healthy people driving inexpensive cars. Some people will
require more medical attention than others for injuries, and some vehicles you
must repair or replace might be high-end models.

In any of the above scenarios, remember that any damages you owe in excess of
your liability insurance limits are totally your responsibility. Now is the time
to consider higher liability limits and possibly the purchase of a personal
umbrella liability policy to cover what auto insurance
doesn’t.

Home Heating Dangers
Increased costs of heating fuels and utilities, or sometimes just
architectural or fashion trends, have caused many Americans to seek other
sources for heating their homes. Kerosene heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces
are increasingly popular; unfortunately, such methods are also major
contributors to residential fires, injury or death. If using one of the above,
consider the following:Kerosene Heaters• Inspect exhaust parts for carbon buildup.

• Make sure rooms are properly ventilated.

• Use only the type of fuel suggested by the manufacturer.

• Make sure family members do not go near the heater wearing loose
clothing.

• Refuel heaters outdoors.

Wood Stoves and Fireplaces• Wood stoves need adequate space (at least three feet) from combustible
surfaces – see manufacturer specifications.

• Have chimneys inspected and cleaned annually.

• Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.

• Always keep a screen or barrier closed when using the stove or fireplace to
prevent embers from shooting out.

• Never burn charcoal indoors.

• Always make sure the fire is completely out before going to sleep.

For more information on keeping your home warm and safe, visit: www.usfa.dhs.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/l-97.pdf.

Pickup Bed Incidents
Changes to Business Owners Policy
Today, pickups are used by people in all walks of life for hauling many types
of property. Unfortunately, not all property loaded into the bed of a pickup
stays there for the duration.Drivers of pickups should understand who is responsible in the event that
what’s being hauled is damaged, or damages something else, as a result of its
failure to stay secured.

Ownership of the property is essential in determining who is responsible for
damage to that property while in transit. For example, if Tom is moving Jay’s
big-screen TV in the back of Tom’s pickup, any damage to the TV will probably
fall under Jay’s homeowners insurance.

Ownership of the transporting vehicle will probably establish responsibility
for other damages. Let’s say Tom is hauling Jay’s big-screen down the street and
the TV falls out of the truck in traffic causing an accident that damages
property other than the TV or injures someone. Tom’s auto liability insurance
will probably have to pay.

Who is responsible for damages to people who are injured when riding in the
back of the truck? If Jay is riding in Tom’s truck bed, Jay may ultimately be
covered under both his and Tom’s insurance.

Glance at your homeowners policy before heading out. If it covers actual cash
value instead of replacement value, your risk may be higher than you think,
especially if you are transporting furniture or other items that depreciate in
value. Additionally, if you are hauling lumber or something else that can fly
away and strike multiple vehicles, you might be setting yourself up for several
costly claims that could surpass your auto liability limits.

There is one simple measure all involved can take: Properly secure all items
loaded into a truck bed. Why take chances on injuries or loss of property when a
$15 pack of ratchet straps can be kept in the truck for all hauling
needs?

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