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Baldwin / Welsh & Parker

Baldwin / Welsh & Parker

Business owners have enough to worry about besides uncontrollable threats that prevent success. Business liability insurance is one way to help prepare for and protect your business from the biggest risks you face.


Top Business Risks in 2016

A recent study done by Allianz concluded that the following three risks are considered by business owners to be among the most significant business risks for 2016:

 

You can protect your business from these threats with a variety of business insurance policies, including business liability insurance—specifically cyber liability insurance and employment practices liability insurance.


Protect Against the Top 3 Risks with Liability Insurance for Your Business

Liability claims are among the most expensive business insurance claims. Without appropriate liability coverage, one lawsuit or unexpected event can force you to close your doors. Business liability insurance can help you protect your business from the 3 top risks named in the survey.

In order to protect your business from cyber incidents, PR disasters, and the impact of new technologies, you need:

  • General business liability insurancealso known as Commercial general liability insurance (CGL) is the most basic form of business liability insurance.

General liability insurance definition: A contract that protects a business against claims due to injuries, accidents, and negligence. It can protect your business from costs related to bodily injury, property damage, medical expenses, legal costs, judgments, and personal injury claims such as libel and slander. To protect your business from more specific types of emerging threats, you may need to purchase additional liability policies.

  • Cyber liability insuranceis important for any business that uses electronic information. If you are sued because of a data breach or other cybercrime, your business could be responsible for paying legal fees, court-ordered judgments or settlements, and any other court-mandated costs. Your general liability policy may not appropriately cover these costs.

Cyber liability claims are also extremely costly in terms of fines, public relations costs, and other expenses you must pay on behalf of your affected customers.

While cyber liability policies continue to evolve because of the ever-changing nature of the threats, most cyber liability insurance policies protect your business assets by covering your legal defense costs, as well as any settlements and judgments that you are ordered to pay. Cyber liability insurance also helps businesses repair their reputations and damage to their brands in these situations by providing coverage for PR and other related expenses.

  • Employment practices liability insurance (EPLI)is another form of liability insurance for your business that is becoming more important as technology changes. EPLI provides protection from claims and lawsuits brought against a business, its officers or directors, or its employees and managers for discrimination, wrongful termination, sexual harassment, and other employment-related allegations.

In addition, EPLI covers claims related to employee benefits mismanagement. In today’s interconnected society, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which new technology makes it possible for an employee’s benefits enrollment or personal health information to be made public inadvertently. EPLI insurance would protect you in such a circumstance.


Other Kinds of Business Liability Insurance to Consider

In addition to the risks named in the Allianz study, most businesses face a variety of other threats that could lead to a liability claim. Depending on your type of business, you may need to consider a number of additional business liability policies to protect your assets.

  • Errors and omissions (E&O) insurance:Also referred to as professional liability insurance, this policy will protect you from loss or damage arising from poor or misleading advice, or an act of negligence that leads to a client's financial loss.
  • Liquor liability insurance:Coverage that protects any business that sells or serves alcoholic beverages, including restaurants, nightclubs, and bars, that can be held liable for damages or injuries caused by intoxicated patrons.
  • Product liability insurance:If your product causes any form of injury or damage, product liability insurance will cover compensation and possible legal fees if you are sued.
  • Environmental impairment liability (EIL) insurance:A specialty insurance policy created for companies and contractors who engage in jobs or production that have toxic by-products. EIL insurance will cover many of the costs related to spills, leakage, or contamination, including fines and cleanup costs.
  • Pollution liability insurance:A business insurance policy that covers the costs associated with pollution cleanup, as well as liability claims for pollution-related injuries, illnesses, or deaths.
  • Event liability insurance:Standard personal or commercial liability policies will not cover the varied exposures related to special events. Event liability policies can be tailored to your specific event, from small, one-time events to large, elaborate affairs.

How to Know if Your Insurance Policy is Right for You

Business liability insurance—in all of its forms—is essential to the long-term success of your business. Every business liability policy must be tailored to your unique business, or you face having limited or no coverage when you really need it.

Consulting with an independent agent who represents multiple insurance companies is the best way to ensure that you can find the best basic and specialized commercial liability insurance to address all of the insurable risks inherent in your business. Working with your local independent agent, you will determine the type and amount of coverage you need based on:

  • Business size, type and value
  • Type of work you do
  • Type of risks
  • Level of liability

Your agent can seek out the best coverage—from multiple insurance companies—to meet your needs and budget.


How to Find the Right Commercial Liability Insurance Agent

Our Baldwin / Welsh & Parker insurance agents are trained to be one of your most trusted business advisors—no different from your accountant, lawyer, or banker. Don’t trust your business to just anyone. Choose an independent insurance agent who will be as invested in protecting your business as you are. Whether you need small business liability or corporate liability insurance your agent can help you evaluate specific business risks and the various liability risks your company faces.

Our agents represent multiple insurance companies, providing you with a broad range of options to meet your needs. Find an agent in your community today and start addressing your top business risks.

Data Breaches. Malware. Hacking.

Recently cyber attacks are always in the news, and no one is immune.Shocking statistics reveal this ever-present and expanding problem has serious consquences for all business organizations. Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Insurance gladly shares these tips to protect your business from this devastating threat.

According to a recent Paychex blog, "Experts uniformly agree that educating employees about the threats of data breaches and cyber theft is a critical step in protecting your company's invaluable data. But while most small businesses understand the need for a comprehensive data security program, many still believe hackers are only interested in going after big companies, and therefore may not take all the precautions that they should. In fact, statistics compiled by the National Cyber Security Alliance paint a disturbing portrait of small business vulnerability:

  • Almost 50 percent of small businesses have experienced a cyber attack.
  • More than 70 percent of attacks target small businesses.
  • More than 75 percent of employees leave their computers unsecured.
  • As many as 60 percent of small and medium-sized businesses that experience a data breach go out of business after six months.

A breach or attack can result in a significant loss of income, particularly if the small business involved lacks cyber liability insurance. If news of the breach goes public, the damage to the business's brand may be insurmountable."

In addition to a hacker getting into your system, data theft can occur if an employee’s computer is stolen, or if an unauthorized person is able to access a computer in your office. It could even be a disgruntled employee who carries out data theft. Any business that collects and stores sensitive information from customers, including credit card information, contact information, credit information, social security numbers, medical information, etc. is at risk for data theft.

Here are a few tips to reduce your risks for cyber attacks and data theft of sensitive customer information: 

  • Change the passwords you and your employees use to log into your technology systems on a regular basis
  • Avoid emailing sensitive information, but if you do, use a secured email service
  • Have employees lock their computer screens when they step away from their desks
  • Avoid having unescorted/unsupervised visitors walking through your office
  • Don’t open strange email attachments or click unusual links in emails, especially from an unknown sender as they may be scams
  • Have a written technology policy in place so that all of your employees understand the expectations and rules guiding how your business handles sensitive data
  • Consider Cyber Liability insurance

Loss of electronic data is not covered under most commercial theft policies because it is not a tangible asset, and most general liability policies also exclude coverage for your costs to notify customers of potential data theft, pay for the costs of investigating the loss or the costs of potential fines, penalties or lawsuits that result from a failure to protect the data. A cyber liability policy can provide your business with coverage that will help you cover several costs, including the expenses to inform your customers and regulatory authorities about the possible exposure of data.

To protect your small business from these exposures, consider a Cyber Liability Policy. Our Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agents at Baldwin / Welsh & Parker can help you identify the risks your business faces from data theft, and can help you identify a policy to cover those exposures.

 

Gather Emergency Supplies

Here's a terrific checklist from the CDC. If a disaster strikes in your community, you might not have access to food, water, or electricity for several days. You may think that you will have enough time to run to the grocery store, but stores quickly sell out of important supplies following emergency warnings. Unfortunately, about half of adults in the United States do not have the resources and plans in place for a possible emergency. Preparing emergency kits for your family is an important step in keeping them safe and healthy during a disaster.

Pack an emergency supply kit. Here's what you'll need:

At Least a 3-day Supply of Food and Water

  • Water - one gallon per person, per day
  • Food - foods that are easy to make and won't spoil, like canned soup, dry pasta, and powdered milk
  • Manual can opener
  • Basic utensils to prepare and serve meals

Health Supplies

  • 3-day supply of all medicines, at a minimum
  • Medical supplies like syringes, a walking cane, or hearing aids with extra batteries

Personal Care Items

  • Soap
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Baby wipes
  • Contact lenses or glasses

Safety Supplies

  • First aid kit
  • Emergency blanket
  • Multipurpose tool (that can act as a knife, file, pliers, and screwdriver)
  • Whistle

Electronics:

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides weather updates during emergencies. Look for a radio labeled "NOAA Weather Radio."
  • Flashlight
  • Radio (battery-powered, solar, or hand-crank) for updates on the situation
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Extra batteries

Documents

	Map, cash, key, and copies of important documents

Keep copies of your important documents, cash, spare keys, and maps in you emergency supply kit.

  • Copies of important documents such as insurance cards and immunization records
  • Paperwork about any serious or on-going medical condition
  • Your completed family emergency plan, complete with family and emergency contact information.

You should also keep

  • Extra cash
  • Maps of the area
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys

Taking Care of Others

You may need additional supplies to make sure the whole family is ready.

For Children

  • Baby supplies like bottles, formula, baby food, and diapers
  • Games and activities for children

For Pets

	A wet dog on a floatation device with a bag of supplies on a flooded street.

Plan ahead so you’re ready to take care of your pet during an emergency.

  • Food and Water:
    • A 3-day supply of food and water for each pet. A cat or a dog will generally need 1 gallon for three days.
    • Bowls or bottles
    • Manual can opener
  • Cleaning Supplies:
    • Depending on the pet, you may need a litter box, paper towels, plastic trash bags, grooming items, and household bleach
  • Health and Safety:
    • Medicines and medical records stored in a waterproof container
    • First aid kit with a pet first aid book
  • Transport supplies:
    • A sturdy leash, harness, and carrier to transport pets safely. A carrier should be large enough for the animal to stand comfortably, turn around, and lie down. Your pet may have to stay in the carrier for several hours.
  • Comfort Items:
    • Pet toys and the pet's bed, if you can easily bring it, to reduce stress
  • Paperwork:
    • Current photos and descriptions of your pets to help others identify them, and to prove that they are your pets, in case you become separated from them
    • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and telephone number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care

Keep these tips in mind!

	A storage box of emergency supplies including a first aid kit, flashlight, water bottles, and crackers.

Check and replace your supplies throughout the year.

Personalize

Every family is unique. You may have emergency needs not included in this list. Also, remember to update your kit according to changing needs of your family.

Be sure it's ready to use

In a disaster situation, you may need to get your emergency supply kit quickly, whether you are sheltering at home or evacuating.

  • Once you have gathered your supplies, pack the items in easy-to-carry containers.
  • Clearly label the containers and store them where you can reach them easily.
  • Remember that certain items, like medications and paper documents, need to be kept in waterproof containers.

Keep it Fresh

Check the expiration dates on food, water, medicine, and batteries at least two times per year. It's extremely important that all items in your kit are functional at the time of an emergency.

Involve Children

Families can make emergencies less stressful by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Ready Wrigley can help!

  • Ask your kids to think of items that they would like to include in an emergency supply kit, such as books, games, and pre-packaged foods.
  • Your kids can mark the dates on a calendar for checking emergency supplies. Tell them to remind you when it's time to check the supplies.
  • Include kids in planning and creating disaster kits for family pets.

Know Your House

Find out where your gas, electric, and water shut-off locations are, and how to turn them off.

Prepare For Everywhere

Emergencies can happen anywhere. Remember to prepare supplies for home, work, and vehicles.

More information:

  • Emergency water supply
  • Emergency food supply
  • Pet Emergency Checklist

Crushed. Cracked. Lost. Stolen. Protecting Your Child's Electronic Devices!

Crushed by books. Cracked when dropped while running for the school bus. Lost in the piles and excitement of the first weeks of school. Stolen in the middle of the school day. As students return to school, repairing or replacing their everyday technology can be expensive.

Missing and damaged equipment--laptops, smartphones, iPads--create a lot of headaches, not only for their physical replacement cost, but also for relevant content that is stored on these devices.

One in ten laptops are stolen or lost in the course of their service. In addition, according to Consumer Reports, 3.1 million smart phones were stolen last year. And, a SquareTrade Study finds that damaged iPhones have cost Americans $5.9 billion since 2007 with accidental damage more common than loss or theft.

Top Laptop Loss

  • 70 million are lost annually
  • One laptop is lost every 53 seconds
  • 47% lost off-site
  • 29% are lost in transit

Top 5 Cell Phone Accident Scenarios

  • Fell out of my hand: 30%
  • Immersed in liquid: 18%
  • Fell out of my lap: 13%
  • Knocked off a table: 11%
  • Liquid spilled on it: 9%

Here are some tips to keep your child's laptop, smartphone, iPad or other electronic gizmos (and yours!) safe.

Insurance. Speak to your Baldwin / Welsh & Parker agent for information on coverage and alternative ways to insure your electronic devices.

Be Prepared! Cases and Backup Content! Invest in specially made cases that reduce the impact of falling and/or water. Make sure you make you and your child take the time to back up your device's content.

Identification. Use both high tech and low tech options to identify your device. A simple sticker with your name and contact information can reunite lost equipment with the owner. Electronic tracking systems can also be implemented that will help you find or protect your telephone's contents.

Consequences and Education. It is important to communicate with your child and come up with the consequences for lost, stolen, or damaged equipment. Make sure your son or daughter understand how much it costs to replace or repair the equipment in question. Take them to the store or to a repair shop and show them first hand. And if the worst happens? Will you ground them? Have them work to pay off the replacement costs? What are the solutions you and your family come up with?

Read more here! 

School is back in session and many high school and college students will be driving more as they commute to and from school, which makes now a good time to remind your student driver about safe driving practices.

Every year approximately 3,000 teens in the United States were killed in car crashes and more than 350,000 were treated for crash-related injuries, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Center for Disease Control. Don’t let your student driver become part of this statistic – encourage him to stay focused while on the road and follow these safety tips:

  1. Always Stop When a School Bus Stops. Be alert for School Buses and students trying to cross the street and stop when you see a School Bus stopped or students trying to cross the street.
  2. Don’t talk on the phone or text while driving. EVER! Not only is texting or using a hand-held phone while driving illegal in many states, it’s also a dangerous distraction. Of those killed in crashes caused by distracted driving, 18 percent were the result of using a cell phone while driving. Using a cell phone while driving – even with a hands-free device – delays a driver’s reaction as much as having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent, according to the University of Utah.
  3. Always wear a seat belt and make all your passengers wear one, too.
  4. Abide by the speed limit. Going too fast gives you less time to stop or react. Excessive speed is one of the top causes of car accidents.
  5. Don’t drink and drive or ride with someone who has consumed alcohol. If you need a ride call a friend, family member, or taxi. Car crashes are the No. 1 cause of death for teens and one of three of these crashes is alcohol related.
  6. Keep the music down. Driving with the volume on the stereo turned up may seem harmless, but it can be just as much of a distraction as using a cell phone.
  7. Don’t try to squeeze too many people into a car. You should never have more people in a car than you do seat belts.
  8. Abide by all traffic lights and signs. Don’t run red lights or stop signs, and make sure the intersection is clear even if the light is green.

Keeping all drivers safe on the road is important and part of that means making sure the appropriate auto insurance coverage is in force. Call your Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice independent insurance agent to help you find the right coverage for you and/or your student driver and answer any questions you have about the insurance. You should also ask your independent insurance agent about student driver discounts, such as the good student discount, which can save you 10 to 15 percent on your premium if your student has a B average. Student drivers who have completed an accredited driver education or training course may also be eligible for a discounted auto insurance rate.

Friday, 26 August 2016 20:45

The Ultimate 8 Fall Home Maintenance Tips

 Ultimate 8 Fall Infographic copy

With spring cleaning far behind, and summer fun all but over, it’s time to start fall home maintenance. Fall is the perfect time to perform important maintenance to your home so you’re not caught in the middle of winter with a drafty house or a malfunctioning heater. We’ve compiled the top eight fall home maintenance tips, along with what you can do to ensure your home stays warm and comfortable this winter.

  1. Heating System

It’s important to inspect your heating to ensure it functions all winter long.

For conventional heating systems, you may already have a contract with the installation company. Many HVAC companies offer a fall/spring maintenance program. If not, start with your water heater. Ensure that your water heater is protected from the elements. The most favorable locations for your water heater to be is the attic, basement, or garage, where it can be safely insulated. For your heating unit, check the filters, gas lines, and flame. Make sure that you have a proper flame and oxygen flow. There should be no cracks, kinks, or holes in gas lines.

For wood stoves, check and make sure that all stove pipes are clean. Take a wire brush and scrape to remove any buildup. Inspect your catalytic combustor, which is located between the fire and stovepipes. Use a small wire brush to clean out any ash buildup. Make sure you have removed all ash from the stove before lighting a fire. Inspect the outside of the stovepipe and stove, being sure to remove any debris. Be on the lookout for creosote, which is a yellow, oily matter that should be removed.

  1. Chimney and Fireplace

Chimneys and fireplaces cause some of the most expensive damage to homes. Build-up from creosote can easily ignite, causing a devastating fire. If you are unfamiliar with inspecting a chimney, it may be worth calling in a chimney sweep, which is usually quite affordable. Make sure to leave your flu closed when not in use, and always have a fireplace screen in front of open flames to protect your home from wayward sparks.

  1. Windows

Windows may be a continual source of frustration for homeowners. There are many seal repair kits available at local hardware stores. Walk around the interior windows, placing your hand near the seal. Check for any breezes flowing through. Do the same process for doors. When you find one, mark it with a sticker or other indicator so you can tally how many repair kits you need. If a window is improperly sized, cracked, or broken, it needs to be replaced.

For doors, you can purchase draft preventers and other seal kits to improve the seal. Every 1/8 of an inch can lower a room a whole degree, so it can really pay off to have updated, well-sealed doors and windows.

  1. Smoke Detectors, Fire Extinguishers, and First Aid Kits

Every six months, replace batteries in all the detectors in your home. Check the expiration dates on your first aid kit and fire extinguisher, and that each is up to date and in a convenient place. If you don’t have a fire escape route, this is a good time to draft one.

  1. Indoor Pipes

Winterizing pipes is one of the easiest, most valuable ways to protect your home over the winter. Most home repair stores carry fitted insulation that can easily wrap around any size pipe. If you can’t afford to do every pipe in your home, give priority to the pipes that are closest to the outdoors, or most likely to freeze. It’s also a good idea to shut off water to any area that won’t be used, and to check pipes for leaks or cracks that may grow larger with the varying temperatures of fall.

  1. Yard Maintenance

Fall leaves may be beautiful, but these can slowly rot, causing huge backup and damage in gutters. This backup will cause water to spill over the gutter and into your yard and walking areas, which can cause damage to your home and make walking conditions dangerous. Disconnect all garden hoses, and store them coiled and flat in a cool, dry place. If possible, turn of water to all outside faucets and drain them to protect the outside pipes from damage. Also, store any outdoor furniture that may become damaged from snow or ice.

  1. Roof Inspection

A roof inspection may seem overkill, but harsh winter winds and heavy snow can take a toll on your home. It may be a good idea go up to your rooftop to check for any broken tiles or cracks. It’s important to take care of any damage now to avoid repairs during the cold winter months.

  1. Stock Up on Winter Supplies for Your Home

Before prices on winter gear soars, stock up on winter items such as snow shovels, firewood, or sidewalk salt. It’s better to have the supplies now than to have to run to the store during a snowstorm!

These fall home maintenance tips are quick, easy, and affordable. It is always a good idea to brush up on home repair insurance coverage as you’re making improvements and renovations. As the adage says, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure - especially when it comes to home repairs.

Student Car Insurance

5 Little Known Ways College Students Can Save Money on Car Insurance                                                               

You might think you have your act together when it comes to student car insurance. College life is hectic and money is always short. To lighten the load, you did your homework to get the best possible rate. Or did you? Sure, your GPA is great, but there are other factors too. Knowing them could allow you to shave dollars from your premium and keep precious cash in your pocket. This is what goes into determining your car insurance rates.


5 Factors That Influence Auto insurance Rates for College Students

Besides your age, gender, and grades, the biggest factor that influences student car insurance is whether you take your car to school. That is because where you keep your car and how much you drive it is one of the primary ways insurance companies determine how likely you are to get into an accident.

You will need to carefully evaluate where you live and how much you drive before you decide if you’ll drive your car to school. Here are some other things to consider:

infographic about 5 factors of auto insurance for college students

1. Location. This could be a big one. If your school is in a more rural area, you will pay lower rates. Urban areas and big cities always carry higher insurance rates. The reason is relatively simple. More cars on the road, more obstacles like pedestrians, and narrow through streets all mean there is a much greater potential for you to be involved in an accident. States like New York and New Jersey have the highest car insurance rates, whereas states like Idaho, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Maine are among the lowest (Bankrate.com). There may be a bit of relief, though. If you happen to live within 3 miles of your school or job, you could qualify for a mileage discount.

2. Type of Car. Your sports car might look good on campus, but in the long run, the student car insurance rate could eat you alive. If you can, go for a larger vehicle. They are more substantial, usually made of steel, and much easier to repair. They also carry lower premiums. It may seem like insurance companies pick and choose which models to charge higher premiums for, but the law and their reasoning are sound. Sports cars are always higher because they have a large claim history (drivers like to go fast and are often involved in wrecks) and they have a much higher chance of being stolen. This is why driving a minivan may not be sexy, but is a great choice if you want a lower insurance rate. Also, newer cars like sedans and compacts give you better rates, since they require much less maintenance and have better safety features.

3. Credit History. Insurance companies will examine your credit history as a predictor of your likelihood of getting in an accident. A good credit rating could save you around $1,000 per year in premium costs. If you have a poor rating, expect a higher premium.

4. How Much Driving You Do. This one is cut-and-dried. If you can prove that you will be driving much less, then you could save a bit on your premium. To further compound the savings, try to stay on your parent's insurance plan if possible.

5. Driving Record. This is the most important factor by far. You are young and full of potential. You are also squarely in the high-risk category. Even a speeding ticket will make your insurance rate skyrocket, simply because you are already in a category with a higher risk. Make sure your driving record is as clean as possible so you can get the best rate.

Finally, consider getting a huge break on your insurance by leaving your car at home. Doing so can save you thousands of dollars. The best way to accomplish this is by trying to remain on your parents’ insurance policy. Most insurance companies will allow you to stay on your parents’ policy if you:

  • Are under 25 years old
  • Attend a college or university within 100 miles of your home
  • Attend a college or university more than 100 miles from home, but drive your vehicle only when you are home for school breaks

The number of miles that you drive in a year also heavily influences how much you will pay for car insurance. If you keep your car at home rather than at school, you will drive less. If you must bring your car to school, use mass transit as much as possible, live on campus if you can, and consider carpooling where possible. Restaurants and other entertainment options are not beyond the scope of possibility if you take advantage of public or mass transit. Besides, you are there to learn after all, right?


What Discounts Are Available to College Students for Car Insurance?

As a student, you may be eligible for several discounts.

Resident Student Discount. This echoes what was mentioned previously. Choosing a school that is far away and only driving when you’re home on break is a dream come true for your insurance company. They will usually give you a nice break for this, since there's much less chance for you to be involved in an accident.

Early Signing Discount. This is something you can take advantage of, but it is time-sensitive. If you're shopping for new car insurance before your current policy has lapsed, there are insurers that will give you a discount for not procrastinating.

Multiple Policy Discount. If you need other types of insurance, consider using the same insurance company for them. For instance, if you need renters insurance, getting both your renters insurance and auto insurance policy from the same company will make you eligible for a discount.

Other discounts that college students might be eligible for include:

  • Good student discount
  • Safe driver discount
  • Pay-in-full or automatic payment discount
  • Driving school discount
  • Anti-theft discount
  • Safety equipment discount
  • Data tracking discount

Ask one of our Trusted Choice agents about these discounts when you shop for your policy.


What Car Insurance Coverage Is Necessary for Students Away at College?

Even for students away from home, good car insurance is a necessity. While you’ll want to buy the most affordable student car insurance available, you shouldn’t limit your coverage to your state’s bare minimums. This could leave you at risk if an accident occurs with one of the nearly 13% of uninsured motorist roaming the roads. In some states, that's as high as 25%, according to the Insurance Research Council.

infographic young drivers alcohol percentage

Remember, you can be the most responsible driver to ever hit the road, but that still won’t protect you from the actions of those around you. According to recent statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 33% of drivers 21 to 24 years old were involved in fatal alcohol-related accidents. This is the highest of any age group. Furthermore, consider the fact that 18% of all college-age drivers report driving under the influence at some point in time, while just over 37% of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 were reported to be binge drinkers, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The bottom line: Just because you might be responsible doesn't mean everyone else is. At the very least, you must carry your state’s mandated minimum liability coverage. But is that enough? Not likely.

To ensure you are protected, auto insurance for college students should include the following types of coverage with appropriate coverage limits:

  • Collision coverage is protection for physical damage to your vehicle when it hits or is hit by another vehicle or object, such as a tree.
  • Comprehensive coverage pays for losses from almost all other types of damage to your vehicle other than that resulting from a collision, such as theft, fire, vandalism, weather, birds or animals, glass breakage and so on.
  • Medical payments coverage, or personal injury protection, helps pay for medical, dental and funeral expenses for you or your passengers, regardless of who is at fault.
  • Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you are in an accident involving a hit-and-run driver or a driver who does not have auto liability coverage. It takes the place of liability insurance that the other driver should have, but does not.
  • Underinsured motorist coverage protects you if another motorist is at fault for a collision but does not have enough insurance to cover your losses.

How Do College Students Find the Best Car Insurance Rates?

The best car insurance for you as a college student will provide protection not only for liability risks, but also for injuries, collisions and other types of risks to you and your vehicle. And it will provide all of those things at a price that that isn’t burdensome.

First, contact one of our Baldwin / Welsh & Parker (BWP agents. Your agent should be able to find quotes from numerous reputable insurance companies so that you can find the combination of coverage and price that best suits your needs and budget. When comparing quotes, make sure that the coverage and limits are the same for each quote. It doesn’t pay to compare apples to oranges.

Our local BWP Trusted Choice® agents can help you find the student car insurance you need, and will help you save money by finding all of the discounts that you are eligible for.  

Make Sure Your Stuff Is Protected When You Move

Moving generally indicates an exciting time of transition and life change- whether it’s moving from the parents' basement to a first apartment or parents downsizing because the kids have all moved out. Whether you’re handling the move yourself with the help of friends and family or whether you hire professional movers, moving can be as stressful as it is exciting, and one way to relieve some of that stress is knowing that your possessions are protected during the transition. Whether your move is across the street or across the country it’s important that you discuss your move with one of our Baldwin / Welsh & Parker (BWP) Trusted Choice ® independent insurance agents.

 

Insuring Your New Place (And Your Stuff)

First of all, your belongings are protected by your homeowners or renters insurance policy against damage and loss. But it’s important to know that when you move from an apartment to a house or house to house or apartment to apartment or condo to… well, you get the idea… your homeowners or renters insurance won’t follow you and your property to the new place. Moving to a new home means that the risks to your property change, and as your risks change, so should your insurance.

Since you have coverage for the contents of your home under a standard homeowners or renter’s insurance policy, the best option to protect those is to make sure that there is no gap of time between the expiration or cancellation of your policy on the home you’re moving out of and the effective start date for the policy for the home you’re moving into- one way to do this is to have the new policy start the day you are planning on moving. Not only would this help provide coverage for your contents, but it would also provide you with personal liability coverage during the time of the move. If you’re moving out of state, ask your BWP insurance agent about underwriting your new policy or a referral in your new hometown.

 

Protect Your Stuff During the Move

Now what about your contents in transit? If you’re renting a truck or a van for the move, the rental company may offer you additional insurance coverage. If you use a professional moving company, under federal law interstate movers are liable for the replacement value of lost or damaged items, so if you’re moving from Manhattan, KS to New York City, the moving company is liable for your stuff. However, they may present you with different options for coverage, including Full Value or Released Value. According to the US Department of Transportation, Full Value is more comprehensive coverage but it may cost more out of pocket, whereas Released Value is offered at no additional cost, but may only cover your belongings up to 60 cents on the dollar. If you opt for the Full Value, make sure you have an up-to-date estimated value for the belongings you’ll be moving. If you have an accurate and comprehensive home inventory, this shouldn’t be too difficult of a task.

One argument for taking the coverage from a rental company or a moving company (even for in state moves) is that if something does go wrong and can be covered by that policy you could avoid filing a claim with your own homeowners/renters insurance company and having to cover costs out of pocket to meet your deductible. Just be sure though that the coverage offered by a moving or rental company is enough to replace or repair damaged or lost items. Talk with your Trusted Choice agent about your coverage and deductible so you can figure out a plan to protect your belongings that works for you.

 

What If I’m Putting Some of My Stuff in Storage?

If you’ll be temporarily storing property at a storage unit during your move, you should know that some insurance policies will only insure items in a self-storage facility to 10% of your personal property limit, which may not be adequate to cover your stored furniture, rugs, etc. You should be able to raise that coverage with what’s known as an endorsement to the policy, so make sure you tell your BWP Trusted Choice agent if you’re storing anything at a self-storage facility as part of the move.

We have the ability to work with multiple insurance companies, to help you find the coverage that’s right for your new place and for getting you and your stuff there.

ChubChub

 

July 15 is National Pet Fire Safety Day and here are some prevention and rescue tips from The American Kennel Club and ADT Security Services.

To help reduce the estimated 500,000 pets affected by home fires each year, The American Kennel Club and ADT Security Services today launched the inaugural "National Pet Fire Safety Day." This nationwide awareness day educates pet owners about potential risks when pets are left home alone and provides them with proven prevention measures to ensure their safety.

According to a recent AKC study, 88 percent of pet owners consider their pets to be valued family members so it makes sense to include them in fire prevention plans and rescue alerts should a house fire strike. As part of National Pet Fire Safety Day, AKC and ADT have developed helpful prevention, escape and rescue tips for pet owners.

"One of the hallmarks of responsible dog ownership is keeping pets safe and planning for unexpected emergencies, including house fires," said AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson. "Pet proofing the home, developing pet-friendly escape routes and alerting rescuers of your pets presence with ‘window clings’ is the best way to keep your four-legged family member from harm."

That’s something Lia Wentworth of Maryland knows well. One Sunday morning she and her family left their Labrador Retriever "Justice" home alone. They didn't realize they left a pot of boiling water with plastic baby bottles on the stove. When the water evaporated, the bottles began to emit a toxic smoke. No one knew Justice was in trouble because there was no flame. Luckily, the Wentworth’s had a monitored smoke detector and the firefighters were alerted. Their prompt response saved Justice's life.

"National Pet Fire Safety Day" Tips to Keep Pets Safe from House Fires:

  • Extinguish Open Flames - Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Ensure your pet is not left unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.
  • Pet Proof the Home - Take a walk around your home and look for areas where pets might start fires inadvertently, such as the stove knobs, loose wires and other potential hazards. 
  • Secure Young Pets - Especially with young puppies, keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home.
  • Keep Pets Near Entrances – When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them. 
  • Practicing Escape Routes with Pets – Keep collars and leashes at the ready in case you have to evacuate quickly with your pet or firefighters need to rescue your pet.
  • Since Pets Left Alone Can’t Escape a Burning Home – Use monitored smoke detectors which are connected to a monitoring center, providing an added layer of protection beyond battery-operated smoke alarms.
  • Affix a Pet Alert Window Cling – Write down the number of pets inside your house and attach the static cling to a front window. This critical information saves rescuers time when locating your pets. You can obtain a free window cling by going to www.adt.com/pets or at AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Days events. Details are available at www.akc.org.
  • Keep Your Information Updated - Firefighters are familiar with pet alert window clings so keep the number of pets listed on them updated. Knowing the accurate number of pets in the house aids rescuers in finding all of your pets.

Burglar breaking into home

When you go on vacation this Summer, remember these top tips to keep your home from becoming a target of burglars.

1) Stop your paper and hold your mail

2) Make sure you set timers on your lights or invest in motion detectors to give your home a ‘lived-in’ look.

3) Have a neighbor or friend check on your home periodically and pick up any flyers that have been left at your front door.

4) Do not post vacation pictures on social media until you are home.

Here are some additional tips from a Trusted Choice article by Jennifer A. DiGiovanni:

Recent reports of burglars stealing garage door openers from unlocked cars and returning later to gain keyless entry into a home has individuals becoming more vigilant about concealing or locking up the small devices. Other tactics used by burglars include using a coat hanger to jimmy a garage door’s release string and breaking into back doors hidden from neighbors.

Easy Ways to Discourage Burglars

In addition to keeping car doors locked, you can increase home security by making other small changes to discourage would-be thieves. Burglars often target dark, silent homes. Motion detecting lights that switch on when someone approaches your house will scare off intruders. Light timers set to activate when you’re away after dark also help disguise an empty home. Make sure you clear a sight line from the street to your house, which helps neighbors detect strangers lurking around your property. If you’re an animal lover, dogs are another great deterrent for burglars. The sound of barking is often enough to encourage a would-be thief to pass over a noisy house in favor of a quieter one.

Spend More on Security and Save on Homeowners Insurance

According to Paul Martin, CPCU and CAP State Association Liaison, two security features which net home owners a discount on their insurance premiums are centrally monitored home security systems and gated communities. To qualify for a reduced premium, a monitored security system must be tracked off-site to ensure someone is available to contact the home owner and the police during an alarm event. Posting signs on your property indicating that your home is in fact monitored is another visual deterrent for burglars. Gated communities restricting nonresident access are a strong deterrent to burglars looking to make a quick getaway, and insurance companies will discount insurance premiums for home owners in those types of neighborhoods.

What to Do if You Are a Victim of a Burglary

If you return home and find evidence of a break-in, the first thing you should do is file a police report. The police will walk through your home, collect evidence and begin an investigation. After the police report is filed, you will be asked to take an inventory and list everything that was taken from your home. Documentation in the form of original receipts works best, but if you no longer have that information, just an inventory of items and projected replacement cost serves as good starting point when filing an insurance claim.

Know What Is Covered If a Burglar does Break In

According to the FBI’s most recent burglary statistics, the average dollar loss in a home break-in amounts to just over $2,000. Yet, home owners can take comfort knowing insurance does cover theft loss, with some exceptions. Actual cash and coins are limited to $200 in losses, and jewelry is also generally limited to a specific amount unless a separate insurance rider or policy has been purchased. Also, paper documents, including security certificates and savings bonds, are limited to $1,500 in losses.

Other limited items homeowners might not consider when initially arranging homeowners insurance include watercraft (in the event a burglar walks off with your favorite canoe or kayak), car trailers, sterling silver or platinum items, and firearms. Collectors of high-value items like stamps, coins or art will require a separate endorsement for full coverage.

If you run a business from your house, you should also be aware of special loss limitations. For self-employed individuals working out of the home, business items will be limited to $2,500 in losses. Items classified as business items include copiers, printers, or even inventory stored in your residence.

Understanding Replacement Cost

 

As long as an item does not fall under a specific exception or exclusion, insurance policies generally pay out the replacement cost of an item to a claimant. Sentimental items may not have high monetary value, so it is important to keep these treasures in a secure location. Photo albums, family heirlooms and other objects passed down from generation to generation may be irreplaceable. It’s important to remember this when selecting pieces to place in a safe or safe deposit box.

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