The Risk of Being Uninsured

With all the expenses of everyday living, it’s tempting to think of insurance as just another cost. What’s harder to see is the potential cost of not buying insurance—or what’s known as “self-insuring”—and the hidden bargain of coverage. 

The Important vs. the Urgent: We’ve all experienced it; the tendency to stay focused on putting out fires, while never getting ahead on the things that really matter in the long run. For most people, there are two big things that matter in the long run: their families and their ability to retire. And being properly insured is important to both those concerns.

Disability Insurance: For the Biggest Risk of All The most overlooked of the major types of insurance coverage is the one that actually covers a far more common risk — the risk of becoming ill or injured and being unable to work and earn your paycheck. How common is it? While no one knows the exact numbers, it’s estimated that 30% of American workers will become disabled for 90 days or more during their working years. The sad reality is that most American workers also cannot afford such an event. In fact, illness and injury are the top reasons for foreclosures and bankruptcies in the U.S. today. Disability insurance ensures that if you are unable to work because of illness or injury, you will continue to receive an income and make ends meet until you’re able to return to work. It’s tempting to cross your fingers and hope misfortune skips over you. But when you look at the facts, it’s easy to see: getting proper coverage against life’s risks is not just important, but a bargain in disguise.


Steps to Filing a Claim

Tips For Filing A Car Insurance Claim – If you drive, chances are that you will eventually be in an accident or have another incident that damages your car. You will need to follow certain steps to file a claim with your car insurance company to get reimbursement. Claim types include: bodily injury claims for medical expenses and property damage claims to vehicle repairs and stolen property.

When to File a Claim: Contact your car insurance company as soon as possible following a car collision. You may also need to file a claim if your vehicle is: vandalized or stolen, or damage from a non-accident-related event, such as fire or severe weather. Your auto insurance agent’s or insurance company’s telephone number is listed on the front of your insurance card. However, you may also be able to find it online and in your actual policy documents.
When you contact your company to file a claim, make sure to provide the following details:
Your full name and policy number – The start and end date of your policy – Date and time of the incident – Names, addresses, and phone numbers of all drivers, passengers, and witnesses – Driver’s license and license plate numbers for all drivers – Your insurance company might also require you to complete a sworn statement that details the events of the auto accident (i.e. weather conditions, time of day or night that the incident occurred, etc.). – Make sure also that you note any personal harm you notice and take photos of the damage.

Five Basic Steps of Filing a Claim:

  1. Case assignment to a professional at your car insurance company who will work on your claim.
  2. Meeting with your claims professional to discuss your coverage’s and the situation.
  3. Evaluation by your claims professional, which can include inspecting your car, examining evidence of any injury claims, and an initial payment.
  4. Resolution of the case, including payments as appropriate.
  5. Closing of the case.
  6. Since you are responsible for protecting your own property, your car insurance company may require you to make temporary fixes to your car while you are waiting for car repairs. These can help prevent further damage. However, be sure not to make permanent repairs before you are approved, because these may not be reimbursed.
  7. Make sure to keep receipts for expenses as you fix your car and seek medical treatment.

Hiring an Attorney: In some cases, you might consider bringing in the counsel of an attorney who specializes in accident claims. They may be able to expedite the process.
Coverage for Bodily Injury Claims: If you are not at fault for the accident, you’ll typically be covered by the other driver’s bodily injury liability coverage. However, if you live in a no-fault state, you may pay for your injuries through your own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. 

Other optional medical coverage’s that will help pay for your injuries include:

Medical payments coverage – Helps pay for funeral costs, injuries suffered by your passengers, injuries to you if a car hits you while you are walking or biking, and necessary dental care resulting from a car accident.

Uninsured/under-insured motorist coverage – Pays for injuries sustained in an accident with a driver who has no or too little insurance to cover your costs. Before purchasing optional medical coverage or raising your minimum deductible, consider using your own health insurance to cover all or part of your injuries.

Handling a Bodily Injury Claim: When you are hurt in a car accident, there are certain steps that can make the process of dealing with a personal injury claim easier. Remember to: Take photos of the scene and your injuries, File a police report and request a copy, Visit a doctor immediately, Write down everything related to your injury, including any work time or activities you may have missed due to the injury; This is necessary if you’re going to file a lost wages claim. Hire an attorney, if necessary. Finally, remember to never admit fault at the scene.

Property Damage Claims: Your ability to file a claim for vehicle repairs depends on the cause of the damage and the coverage’s that you have. Liability property damage coverage, which is required in many states, does not cover your own car. It will only pay for the damages you cause to another driver’s vehicle in an accident that you cause.

The two major coverage types that pay for damage to your vehicle include: Collision coverage: which pays for damages to your vehicle after a collision & Comprehensive coverage: which will cover damages to your car occurring from events that aren’t related to accidents – Examples include vandalism and severe weather

Other coverage’s that will cover property damage include: Uninsured and under insured motorist property damage coverage to get you reimbursement if you are in an accident and the driver that hit you does not have insurance – Gap insurance coverage to cover the difference if you have a car loan or are leasing your car, and it is declared a total loss – Windshield or glass coverage to replace or repair a windshield, mirror, or window that is damaged in an incident other than a collision.

Handling a Property Damage Claim: When you file a physical damage claim, an insurance adjuster will inspect your vehicle and estimate how much it will cost to repair the damage. You will then receive a check from the insurance company that takes into account the auto deductible you have chosen for your policy. If your vehicle has been damaged, follow these steps in order to have your car insurance claim processed effectively: Report the damage to your vehicle to your insurance company immediately. Depending upon your insurance company’s policies, you can do this online, by calling your insurance agent during regular business hours, or by calling the company’s claims division. If another driver was involved, exchange insurance information. Allow your insurance company to inspect the vehicle before repairs are made. Protect the vehicle so no further damages are caused and losses are limited – For example, if the accident causes the fender to rub against the vehicle tire, you should have this repair made immediately so the tire is not further damaged. If you don’t make the repair, your car insurance company can refuse to pay for any additional damages. Save all receipts and any other documentation you receive to give to your insurance company as part of your claim. Provide any requested information the insurance company needs as part of its investigation. If you refuse to cooperate, your claim could be denied.

Private Passengers

When renting a car for personal use, there are a few things to think about: For Massachusetts drivers, the Bodily Injury (to others), Personal Injury Protection, Medical Payments, and Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured or Under insured Motorist coverage’s under your MA Personal Auto Policy apply while driving anywhere in: [whether you’re driving your own vehicle or a rental car] The United States & Canada and U.S. Territories and its possessions. You will not be covered in Mexico, Europe, or anywhere else in the world.

That being said, there are a few things you should check about your personal car insurance coverage before deciding if you should buy rental car insurance: 

Personal Damage Liability is mandatory, the basic limit is only $10,000, which is often inadequate in case of an accident. We recommend increasing your limit to $100,000.

Optional Bodily Injury to Others is an optional coverage but we always advise our clients to purchase this because basic mandatory limits are very small and the coverage is restrictive.

MA Personal Auto Policy work as excess coverage’s, they cover any expenses left over after the rental company’s property damage liability coverage is expended. These coverage’s will not pay for damages to the rental car itself, nor will it cover ‘loss of use’ to the rental vehicle, which is where Collision and Comprehensive coverage on your MA Personal Auto Policy comes in handy. If you carry Collision and Comprehensive Coverage on your MA Personal Auto Policy, these coverage’s’ will follow you with the rental vehicle, as long as you rent a ‘private passenger vehicle’Many credit card companies offer supplemental insurance coverage if you rent a vehicle using their card. Make sure to check with your credit card company before deciding to purchase or not to purchase additional coverage. Keep in mind though, that processing claims through your insurance company will take time. Your deposit on the rental car may be held until the claim is settled and the rental company may hold you personally responsible for the “Loss of Rental Income” to their vehicle. Talk to your insurance agent before renting a car to weigh your options and to figure out if purchasing the rental car company coverage could be worth it for you.

Going Up in Flames!

Fire is one of the biggest threats for restaurants and bars. A recent study found that as little as 3% of cooking oil residue left in towels after laundering can spontaneously combustion. Fibers in the towels trap oil and grease over time, creating an opportunity for combustion. When people think of spontaneous combustion and towels, they usually think of solvent-soaked towels; however, towels soaked with cooking oil, vegetable, or animal oil present the same risks and potential loss. 

The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) estimates that 14,070 fires were caused by spontaneous combustion between 2005 and 2009. Spontaneous combustion is caused by a chemical reaction within the materials; a heat source isn’t necessary. Fortunately, you can implement controls to prevent spontaneous combustion in your restaurant. Storage and Washing: Clean rags should be stored away from dirty rags. Towels and rags should only be stored in non-combustible containers with closed lids. Even clean rags should be stored in non-combustible containers due to the residue left on them. 

  • The best practice is to use an outside service to clean your towels. If this isn’t available, only commercial-grade laundering equipment should be used for washing the towels. Grease from the towels can increase the chances of combustion in the dryers. Pre-soak dirty towels to remove the oil debris. Use commercial grade detergents designed for removing grease from the towels. Remove towels immediately after the dryer cycle is complete. Towels should never be left in the dryer overnight. The towels should be inspected for residue and allowed to cool before folding and storing.


Do’s and Don’ts for Lightning Coverage & Safety

Lightning Coverage and SafetyDamage caused by lightning, such as a fire, is covered by standard homeowners and business insurance policies. Some home and business insurance policies provide coverage for power surges that are the direct result of lightning striking a home or business. There is also coverage for lightning damage under the comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy. With the explosion in the number and value of consumer electronics in homes, such as flat screen TVs, home entertainment centers, multiple computers, gaming systems as well as new smart home technology, it is more important than ever to take precautions. Preventing Losses: The I.I.I. offers the following tips to protect homes and businesses against power surges and lightning strikes:

Install a lightning protection system: A lightning protection system supplies structural protection by providing a specified path on which lightning can travel. When a building is equipped with a lightning protection system, the destructive power of the lightning strike is directed safely into the ground, leaving the structure and its contents undamaged. A lightning protection system includes a “rooftop network” of lightning rods or air terminals at the top of the house connected by a series of down conductors to carry the current down to a grounding network (grounding rods or ground plates, depending upon soil conditions). Lightning protection is not a “do-it-yourself” project, so make sure you contract with a UL-listed lightning protection specialist to install the system in accordance with national Safety Standards. Homeowners may be at an increased risk if they have a Corrugated Stainless Steel tubing (CSST) product in their home and should bring this to the attention of the lightning specialist.

Image result for lightning striking home

Use surge protectors: Today’s sensitive electronic equipment is particularly vulnerable to lightning. To assure the highest level of protection, a UL-listed surge protection device (SPD) should be installed on electrical service panels. Most electric utilities will rent or sell a surge device for the electric meter to “clamp down” on incoming surges. A licensed electrician can also be engaged to put similar equipment on the electrical panel. Installations typically include SPD’s for the main electric panel, as well as incoming phone, cable, satellite and data lines. SPD’s protect against damaging electrical surges that can enter a structure via power transmission lines. By filtering and dissipating the harmful surges, SPD’s prevent electrical fires and protect against electrical discharges that can damage a building’s electrical system, computers, appliances and other systems. UL-listed transient voltage surge suppressors can also be installed to protect high-valued, sensitive electronic equipment like computers, TVs, corded telephones, microwave ovens, washing machines, refrigerators, garage door operators, irrigation system controllers, etc. Keep in mind that power strips offer little protection from electrical power surges. Unplug expensive electronic equipment: As an added precaution, unplug expensive electronic equipment such as TVs, computers and the like if you know a storm is approaching.

When Thunder Roars…GO INDOORS: Take shelter in a home, large building or substantial fully enclosed building, preferably protected with a lightning protection system. Hard topped-vehicles are generally safe shelters, as well.  Avoid areas where you will be the highest object: If you are caught in an open field with no nearby shelter, and your hair begins to stand on end (an indication that lightning is about to strike) drop down and crouch with hands on knees, rocking up on the balls of your feet. (The idea is to make as little contact with the ground as possible.) Never lie down flat or place your hands on the ground. 

Certain locations are extremely hazardous during thunderstorms: Avoid lakes, beaches or open water, fishing from a boat or dock, riding on golf carts, farm equipment, motorcycles or bicycles. Take shelter in tunnels, subways, even ditches or caves if necessary—but never under a tree! If caught on high ground or in an open area, seek shelter in a low area and stay away from trees: A small grove of bushes or shrubs is preferable to lone trees. To avoid side flashes (voltage from a nearby struck object) stay clear of fences or isolated trees: Keep away from telephone poles, power lines, pipelines or other electrically conductive objects. Stay off the telephone: In your home, don’t stand near open windows, doorways or metal piping. Stay away from the TV, plumbing, sinks, tubs, radiators and stoves. Avoid contact with small electric appliances such as radios, toasters and hairdryers.

Steps to Reduce Workplace Injuries

Managing Business Risks: Injuries to employees can be devastating for businesses, especially small businesses with fewer employees available to take on new roles when an injured worker is on leave. While workers compensation insurance will help pay medical costs and replace an injured employee’s lost income, your business will have to absorb costs associated with reduced productivity, overtime, training replacements, and so on. The best way to minimize the hidden costs of workplace injuries and related insurance costs is to prevent accidents from happening in the first place. The steps below will help you consider and develop a formal, comprehensive workplace safety program to reduce the risk of injury:

  • Engage Management and Employees—Businesses are most successful improving workplace safety when leadership and employees collaborate. Responsibility for workplace safety should be part of everyone’s job, and specific employees and managers should be tasked with implementing, maintaining and improving workplace safety program components.
  • Analyze Your Workplace and Operations—Evaluate your business from top to bottom. Review your equipment as well as all workplace activities. As part of your evaluation, talk to your employees to learn their safety concerns. Whenever you add new operations, equipment or facilities to your business, analyze these for risks as well.
  • Mitigate Hazards—Simply identifying and being aware of hazardous practices, equipment and infrastructure is not enough. When hazards are identified, you should seek to remove or control them by replacing or fixing equipment, adding new safety measures or changing workplace operations.
  • Implement Training—Train employees about workplace safety and how to identify hazards. Include workplace safety training as part of employee on boarding and offer refresher training on a regular basis. In addition to injury prevention training, you may want to include first-aid training so that your workforce can respond effectively if an accident does occur.
  • Review, Respond and Improve—Promoting workplace safety is an ongoing process. You should review and improve your program—especially in response to accidents or “near misses.” Employees should always be encouraged to report newly identified hazards or workplace incidents so that you can respond appropriately.

Beyond Prevention: Workers Compensation Insurance – Unfortunately, accidents and injuries do happen. Following the steps above can help reduce workplace injuries, but the risk cannot be absolutely eliminated. To help employees—and your business—recover from a workplace injury, your company will need workers compensation insurance. Workers compensation insurance requirements for employers vary from state to state—and knowing the requirements for your state is essential to protecting your business. What Workers Compensation Covers: A workers compensation insurance claim can be filed if an employee is injured at your workplace or while on the job at another location. A claim can also be filed if a worker is injured in a vehicle accident while on business. Costs are also covered for employees that develop work-related illnesses.

Your workers compensation insurance will cover: Income Benefits–Replaces a portion of an employee’s salary when work is missed. Medical and Rehabilitation Costs—Pays necessary medical care to treat work-related injuries or illness. Funeral Expenses—In the case of death, funeral and related expenses such as burial or cremation are covered. Death Benefits—Paid to a surviving spouse and dependents. Each state has different laws governing the amount and duration of lost income benefits, the provision of medical and rehabilitation services and how the system is administered.  *For example, in most states there are regulations that cover whether the worker or employer can choose the doctor who treats the injuries and how disputes about benefits are resolved. What Isn’t Covered: While workers compensation covers costs directly tied to an injured employee, it does not cover the hidden costs associated with the loss of an employee, including: Business interruption losses, Hiring and training of employees, and Overtime costs. Workers compensation must be purchased as a stand-alone policy, approved by the state in which you do business. This type of coverage is not included in Commercial Package Policies (CPPs) or Business Owners Policies (BOPs).