Insurance Articles - Personal Lines
- Ten Trouble-Free Tips for Travelers
Will you be one of the millions on the road this summer?
Safety is one of the most important things to consider as you pack your car and leave home. To help you get ready for your next road trip, the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) recommends these 10 tips for travelers:
- Check all the locks before you leave home. Each door and window should have a sturdy lock.
- Use motion-detection lights outside and trim hedges to reduce potential hiding places for burglars.
- Set automatic timers on a few interior lights to give the impression that someone is home.
- Ask the post office to hold your mail or ask a trusted friend or neighbor to collect it while you are away. Do the same with home delivery of newspapers.
- Pay attention to your surroundings.
- Pick well lit gas stations and always remove your keys and lock the car doors while you are pumping gas.
- Protect your valuables (GPS, MP3 players, cell phones) by keeping them out of plain view in your vehicle and lock the doors even if you are stepping away from the vehicle for just a moment.
- Take only the credit and other cards you will need. Leave the others at home, stored securely.
- Never leave your hotel room unlocked, even to go to the ice or vending machine.
- Don't open the door at a hotel or at home to someone who you don't know well or trust.
It's important, too, not to forget the basics: buckle your seatbelt and keep your eyes on the road. Driving is a skill that requires your full attention to safely control your vehicle and respond to the events happening on the roads around you.
It's good to have an insurance company that will be there if you ever have an accident or need to file a claim. To check on your coverage, contact our agency. We will review your current policies and help ensure that your car and home are properly insured.
Trying to Save Money? Avoid the Five Biggest Insurance Mistakes
With nearly one in 10 Americans out of work, and others forced to make ends meet with less money, many people are looking for ways to cut costs.
There are many ways to save on home and auto insurance. Be careful, though, not to make mistakes that could result in your being dangerously underinsured.
"When money is tight, it's extremely important to be financially protected against a catastrophe with the right amount and type of insurance," said Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president and consumer spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). “By taking a few simple steps, it is possible to cut costs and still be protected should disaster strike.”
According to the I.I.I., these are the five biggest insurance mistakes that people often make:
- Insuring a home for its market value rather than for the cost of rebuilding. When real estate
prices go down, some homeowners may think they can reduce the amount of insurance on their home. Insurance is designed
to cover the cost of rebuilding, not the sales price of the home. You should make sure that you have enough coverage
to completely rebuild your home and replace your belongings.
A better way to save: Raise your deductible. An increase from $500 to $1,000 could save you up to 25 percent on your premium payments.
- Selecting an insurance company by price alone. It is important to choose a company with
competitive prices, but also one that is financially sound and provides good customer service.
A better way to save: Check the financial health of a company with independent rating agencies. You should select an insurance company that will respond to your needs and handle claims fairly and efficiently.
Financially strong insurers like Erie Insurance have the financial wherewithal to ensure that claims payment is made promptly. ERIE has an A.M. Best rating of A+ (superior) with a stable financial outlook. Additionally, ERIE ranks among the 50 top performing insurance companies, according to the Ward Group, which analyzes the financial performance of 3,000 property-casualty companies. ERIE has also won awards for customer satisfaction and claim service by independent organizations.
- Dropping flood insurance. Damage from flooding is not covered under standard homeowners and renters
insurance policies. Many homeowners are unaware they are at risk for flooding. Coverage is available from the
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), as well as from some private insurance
companies. Erie Insurance offers coverage through American Bankers.
A better way to save: All types of homes, including condominiums, are eligible for flood insurance. You can even purchase flood insurance to protect your contents if you rent your home. It’s a good idea to start the process as soon as you can because most flood insurance policies have at least a 30-day waiting period before they take effect. If you're already living in a flood zone area, look at mitigation efforts that can reduce your risk of flood damage. Before purchasing a home, check with the NFIP to determine if it’s in a flood zone; if so, consider a less risky area.
Only purchasing the legally required amount of liability coverage for your car. In today's litigious society, buying only the minimum amount of liability coverage means you are more likely to have to make out-of-pocket payments - and those costs may be steep.
A better way to save: The insurance industry and consumer groups generally recommend a minimum of $100,000 of bodily injury liability protection per person and $300,000 per accident. Also, consider dropping collision and/or comprehensive coverage on older cars worth less than $1,000.
Neglecting to buy renters insurance. A renters policy covers your possessions and additional living expenses if you have to move out due to a disaster. Equally important, it provides liability protection in the event someone is injured in your home and decides to sue.
A better way to save: Look into multi-policy discounts. Buying several policies with the same insurer, such as renters, auto and life will generally provide savings.
For more information about how you could save money on your insurance policies, contact our agency. We can answer your questions and review your insurance coverage needs.
College Student in Your Household? Check Your Coverage
If you’re helping one of your children go off to college for the first time, or return to college, Erie Insurance may be able to help you save some money and gain some extra protection.
Here are four things to consider about insurance when a child enters college:
- Your homeowners insurance might extend to his or her belongings. Usually, the belongings of your child-turned-college-student will be covered by your homeowners insurance, but it’s best to be sure. If for some reason the coverage doesn’t extend, consider purchasing renters insurance. Students who live off campus may not be covered by their parents' homeowners policy and may need to purchase their own renters insurance.
- You could get a discount on your auto insurance. Because you’ll have one less driver living at home when your son or daughter goes off to school, your household might get a discount — as long as they don’t take a car along. If he or she does take a set of wheels, talk to your Erie Insurance Agent, who can review your coverage to make sure your child is properly insured.
- Student loans might call for extra protection. If student loans are involved, you might want to consider life insurance* for your son or daughter. It can help financially in the case of an unexpected death (although no one wants to think about that).
- Insurance can help in the most unexpected cases. Accidents happen — sometimes tragically. Extra liability coverage through a Personal Catastrophe Liability policy, commonly called an umbrella policy, can help protect you financially should a lawsuit ensue.
Most importantly, contact our agency so we know about any changes happening in your household. It’s always best to double check your specific situation and coverage needs.
*Erie Family Life insurance products are not available in New York.
AutoHot Wheels 2015 ReportContact:
NICB’s Hot Wheels: America’s 10 Most Stolen VehiclesImports and Pickups Still Dominate
DES PLAINES, Ill., Aug. 31, 2015 — The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) today released its annual Hot Wheels report which identifies the 10 most stolen vehicles in the United States. The report examines vehicle theft data submitted by law enforcement to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and determines the vehicle make, model and model year most reported stolen in 2014.
Included with today’s release is a list of the top 25 2014 vehicle makes and models that were reported stolen in calendar year 2014.
For 2014, the most stolen vehicles* in the nation were (total thefts in parentheses):
1. Honda Accord (51,290) 2. Honda Civic (43,936) 3. Ford Pickup (Full Size) (28,680) 4. Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size) (23,196) 5. Toyota Camry (14,605) 6. Dodge Pickup (Full Size) (11,075) 7. Dodge Caravan (10,483) 8. Nissan Altima (9,109) 9. Acura Integra (6,902) 10. Nissan Maxima (6,586)
See the complete report here. Or paste this link into your browser: www.nicb.org/File Library/Public Affairs/2014_State_Top10for-release.xls.
The following are the top 10 2014 model year vehicles stolen during calendar year 2014 (total thefts in parentheses):
1. Ford Pickup (Full Size) (964) 2. Toyota Camry (869) 3. Ford Fusion (819) 4. Chevrolet Impala (746) 5. Nissan Altima (687) 6. Dodge Charger (680) 7. Taotao Industry Co. Scooter/Moped (592) 8. Toyota Corolla (578) 9. Chevrolet Cruze (566) 10. Ford Focus (505)
Download 2014’s complete top 25 most stolen list from this spreadsheet. Or paste this link into your browser:www.nicb.org/File Library/Public Affairs/Top25Modesl_NewModel-VehYear2014.xls. Although vehicle theft has been on a long downward trajectory, it is still a severe economic hardship for many to lose their vehicle to theft—especially if a vehicle is uninsured. That is why NICB continues to advise all drivers to review our four “Layers of Protection”:
- Common Sense: Lock your car and take your keys. It’s simple enough, but many thefts occur because owners make it easy for thieves to steal their cars.
- Warning Device: Having and using a visible or audible warning device is another item that can ensure that your car remains where you left it.
- Immobilizing Device: Generally speaking, if your vehicle can’t be started, it can’t be stolen. “Kill” switches, fuel cut-offs and smart keys are among the devices that are extremely effective.
- Tracking Device: A tracking device emits a signal to the police or to a monitoring station when the vehicle is stolen. Tracking devices are very effective in helping authorities recover stolen vehicles. Some systems employ “telematics,” which combine GPS and wireless technologies to allow remote monitoring of a vehicle. If the vehicle is moved, the system will alert the owner and the vehicle can be tracked via computer.
Considering a used vehicle purchase? Check out VINCheckSM, a free vehicle history service for consumers. Since 2005, NICB has offered this limited service made possible by its participating member companies. Check it out at:www.nicb.org/vincheck.
*This report reflects stolen vehicle data contained in NCIC and present in the “NCIC mirror image” when accessed by NICB on March 2, 2015. NCIC records may contain errors based on inaccurate entries submitted by reporting agencies. Full size pickups include half ton and larger capacity models for all makes.
Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800-TEL-NICB (800-835-6422), texting keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411) or submitting a form on our website. Or, download the NICB Fraud Tips app on your iPhone or Android device.
About the National Insurance Crime Bureau: Headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through data analytics, investigations, training, legislative advocacy and public awareness. The NICB is supported by more than 1,100 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote over $395 billion in insurance premiums in 2014, or more than 78 percent of the nation's property/casualty insurance. That includes more than 93 percent ($176 billion) of the nation's personal auto insurance. To learn more visit www.nicb.org.
- Insuring a home for its market value rather than for the cost of rebuilding. When real estate prices go down, some homeowners may think they can reduce the amount of insurance on their home. Insurance is designed to cover the cost of rebuilding, not the sales price of the home. You should make sure that you have enough coverage to completely rebuild your home and replace your belongings.
Survey: Many Drivers Forget about Coverage, Distracted by Funny Ads Focused on Price
"Laugh and the world laughs with you" is a mantra that has been embraced by many in the car insurance industry in recent years, with some companies spending hundreds of millions of dollars on ads that use humor to get attention. While laughter might be an easy way to entertain, a new survey from Erie Insurance reveals that the onslaught of car insurance ads focused on price are causing some consumers to forget about coverage.
The majority of survey respondents (68 percent) agreed that most funny car insurance ads were about saving money. While respondents ranked coverage as the most important consideration when shopping for car insurance, three-quarters (74 percent) admitted that the blitz of car insurance commercials focused on price have caused them to forget about coverage choices that affect how well they are protected.
"People are making very serious decisions about their financial well-being based on punch lines," said Cody Cook, vice president and product manager at Erie Insurance. "Insurance is complex. Making a decision based on price alone and without the consultation of an insurance expert can have serious repercussions."
Interestingly, more than half of survey respondents admitted that even after they bought car insurance, they still weren't certain they had made the right decision. When asked to define basic insurance terms:
- 48% percent thought Liability or Comprehensive coverage paid for the damage they caused to their vehicle if it hit another object. Collision coverage pays for the damage to one's vehicle if he/she is at fault in an accident
- 54% percent thought an Affirmation or Premium was the term for changes and/or additions to a policy. The correct term is an Endorsement. Affirmation isn't an insurance term.
The Insurance Information Institute, a group dedicated to helping consumers better understand insurance, recently cautioned against selecting an insurance company based solely on price. Instead, it urged consumers to seek out companies with reputations for excellent customer service that will handle claims quickly and fairly.
"We think it's time to get serious about car insurance," said Cook. "To truly understand what you're buying and ensure your family is protected, you'll benefit most by having expert guidance from a local agent you know and trust."
For more information, refer to the complete survey results.
Lessons from Superstorm Sandy: Steps Every Homeowner Should Take
Superstorm Sandy was a powerful storm that packed some memorable lessons. The wind and water damage hit the East Coast the hardest, but the remnants of the fall storm stretched as far north as eastern Canada.
To protect yourself and your property from severe weather, review these important steps, recommended by consumer safety advocates, the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS).
- Check your home insurance coverage - Be sure you have the right kind and amount of insurance, enough to rebuild your home and replace your belongings. It’s always best to review your coverage with your insurance agent every year.
- Get flood coverage - You may also want to consider flood insurance, which is not covered under a standard homeowners policy. It is important to purchase flood coverage well in advance of a storm because there is a 30-day waiting period. Erie Insurance offers flood insurance coverage through American Bankers.
- Beware of contractor fraud - Dishonest drifters often go door-to-door, especially after disasters, to try to convince you that need a new roof, even if your roof is not damaged at all. Read more about the scams on the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud’s website. If you need a suggestion about who to hire, contact your local ERIE Agent or claims adjuster.
- Inspect your roof - Keeping wind and water out of your home is critical. Make sure the roof covering is well adhered and there are no missing pieces. Secure roof shingles and seal any openings, cracks and holes. Refer to the IBHS roof inspection checklist for help.
- Check your basement - In the basement, IBHS recommends using water resistant paint on the interior basement walls, sump pumps and other methods that can prevent flood damage to your home and belongings. Sump pumps are most often used in cases where the house's basement is below the water table level and in places where flooding is common. If you have a sump pump, use a battery backup system in the event that the power goes out during a storm. You may also want to consider adding sewer and drain backup coverage to your homeowners policy. It covers a loss caused by water or sewage that backs up through sewers or drains or overflows from a sump pump.
- Prune the trees - Good pruning can prevent damage to your home in extreme weather conditions. If a tree hits a home or other insured structure such as a detached garage, most homeowner policies will provide coverage for damage to the structure and contents inside it. Some insurance policies also provide coverage for the cost of removing the tree. However, coverage is often limited to trees that fall because of a windstorm, hail, weight or ice, snow or sleet. It does not cover dead or diseased trees.
- Create a home inventory - An up-to-date home inventory will speed up the claims process by substantiating losses. It can also help you determine how much insurance to purchase. To make the process easier, I.I.I. offers free web-based software at www.knowyourstuff.org and Erie Insurance has a home inventory form that you can print out and fill in.
- Have an evacuation plan - Decide where you will go and how you will get there and have more than one option. Keep a map, phone numbers and addresses handy. Think about what you'll need to take with you ― items like medicines, important documents, clothing and food ― and have them ready to go. The I.I.I. recommends practicing your evacuation plan by doing a 10-minute challenge ― giving yourself just 10 minutes to pack up and get out.
By taking these steps now, you stand the best chance of getting your life back in order after a disaster. More storm preparation information is available on iii.org or the Institute for Business and Home Safety’s Web site, disastersafety.org.
If you have any questions about this information or your coverage, contact our agency. We’re here to help.