If you own a house, homeowner’s insurance is a necessity. Not only do you need it to protect your home and possessions against damage and theft, your mortgage lender will also require that you carry it if you have a loan on your home. It’s not enough to simply have coverage, you need to have the right coverage. We ALWAYS suggest that it is a good time to review your policy is when it comes up for renewal annually. Of course, we do it for you here at Benton White Insurance.
Insurance companies have the right to change your contract upon renewal. If you aren’t really paying attention to it, you could end up with some surprises. We do all that we can to make sure you know of those changes if they occur, but you taking the time to review is added security that you know what is going on with your insurance policy.
1. Am I underinsured?
Statistically, there are estimates that two out of every three homes in America are underinsured. When purchasing coverage, a lot of people consider only the market value of their home and not the replacement cost. What if your home was picked up and moved to a less desirable area? While the cost of building the house would be similar, the market value would be wildly different because of the neighborhood. If your home is insured based on its market value, that leaves you at risk of having incomplete coverage. In the case of a total rebuild, most people end up paying a lot of money.
2. Is my deductible too low?
Your deductible is the amount you pay before your insurance kicks in. Many insurance companies are starting to provide premium reductions for consumers with higher policy deductibles. We are available to give you comparisons of what kind of premium credit you would get if you moved to a higher deductible. One rule of thumb that many people use is to accept a higher deductible when the increase in deductible divided by the premium savings is five years or less.
3. Has my deductible changed?
A growing number of insurance companies are changing policy deductibles from a flat deductible to a percentage deductible. Let’s say you have a $500,000 home and a $1,000 deductible. Your insurance company changes your deductible to 1%. This means you now have to fork over $5,000 when filing a claim! None of my companies have gone to this and that makes our rates extremely competitive against those that offer percentage deductibles. Please note that any changes to deductibles would occur upon renewal – not during the policy year. Some of our companies are offering higher deductibles for certain types of losses, such as wind or hail which can save you the additional premium.
4. Do I have enough sump pump/sewer coverage?
Don’t assume that you have sump pump failure coverage. Water damage from a sump pump failing or water that backs up from a sewer drain can be very costly. Most insurance companies will exclude this damage as a cause of loss. However, we always quote this extra coverage with our rates because we have experienced very messy claims in the past from water backup of sewers. Not pleasant and very costly to say the least!
5. Does my policy cover claims for personal injury?
With the advent of social media, personal injury claims are becoming prevalent. Personal injury refers to things such as libel, defamation or invasion of privacy. What does this have to do with homeowner’s insurance you might ask? While you might be careful about what you do or say online, your child may not. Adding this coverage to your home insurance often costs less than $50 a year.
6. Are my valuables covered?
Most policies limit the amount of coverage for lost or stolen jewelry to $2,500 or $5,000 after your deductible is applied. If you have jewelry worth more than either of those amounts, you can do what’s called “scheduling the jewelry.” Scheduling personal property simply means adding coverage for high-value items. Depending on the company, that could cost you $12 to $15 per thousand dollars annually. In some cases, even less than that!
7. Is my homeowner’s liability limit too low?
Every homeowners’ policy has two types of coverage: liability and property. Property coverage includes your house and furniture. Liability coverage protects you if someone is injured and it is your fault. Getting the maximum amount of liability insurance makes a lot of sense. We quote STANDARD, $500,000 liability on our policies simply because we want our insureds to have sizable coverage for that risk. We also suggest a Personal Liability umbrella in addition to that amount that can pay $1,000,000 in excess liability for home or auto exposures.
Many of our insureds know and rest in the fact that we REVIEW OUR RENEWALS. If any company we have increases their rates or changes coverage outside of marketable norms, we shop other companies to see if there is a better fit! We want our insureds with the best company with the most coverage for the most competitive premiums. We’re all encouraged to go to the doctor every year to get a checkup! It’s no different with your homeowner’s insurance. Let us know how we can help!
Feel free to EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or TEXT or CALL – 615.377.1212 if we can help you with your insurance. We’re here to simplify insurance and help you find ways to cover risks that could be in your future. We’re ALWAYS READY to earn your business!
[Portions of this blog came from a Personal Finance story written by Linda Bell with FoxBusiness.]
We insure a lot of SUV’s and as you may know, some vehicle companies are only going to make SUV’s in the future as they stop manufacturing private passenger vehicles from their factory lines.
Safety is always a concern when one purchases a vehicle. That's why, when the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released their 2018 SUV safety tests, it caught a lot of people’s attention. Many were surprised that two of the most popular midsize SUVs in the U.S. were given a "poor" rating in the latest round of crash tests. The tests measure how well sport utility vehicles protect front-seat passengers in certain front-end collisions.
According to the IIHS, the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2018 Ford Explorer had difficulty preventing some injuries when the front right corner of the vehicle collides with another vehicle or object while going 40 miles per hour.
"Somebody who is considering buying a brand new SUV, I would recommend that they choose something other than the Grand Cherokee or the Explorer," said Dave Zuby, senior vice president of vehicle research at Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "There are clearly better choices out there especially if you are concerned about the safety of your family."
A "poor" rating is the lowest grade the IIHS gives during crash tests. It comes in below designations of "marginal," "acceptable" and "good," which is the highest rating awarded. In the latest crash tests of eight 2018 midsize SUVs, the Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder and Honda Pilot received overall ratings of "acceptable," while the Kia Sorento, Volkswagen Atlas, and GMC Acadia were given overall ratings of "good."
"One of the things we observed is that the three good-rated vehicles are newer designs than the poor-rated Grand Cherokee and Ford Explorer," said Zuby. "Ford and Jeep are just behind in making the improvements that we would like to see."
IIHS rated Fiat Chrysler's Jeep Grand Cherokee as "poor" in protecting front seat passengers from lower-leg and foot injuries. During the safety organization's crash test, the side curtain did not deploy and the vehicle's door opened.
A spokesperson for Fiat Chrysler says, "All FCA US vehicles meet or exceed federal safety standards. FCA US vehicles are engineered to address real-world driving situations. No single test measures overall vehicle safety."
To drive home that point, FCA points out the Grand Cherokee has received good ratings from IIHS on four other crash tests.
It's a similar story for the 2018 Ford Explorer. The IIHS gives the SUV good ratings in four other crash tests, but in the most recent one, the agency gives the Explorer "poor" grades for the vehicle's structure and its ability to protect front-seat passengers from hip and thigh injuries in this particular crash.
"Customer safety continues to be one of our highest priorities when we design any of our vehicles and we continually make improvements to our vehicles to help our customers stay safe on the road," said Dan Barbossa, spokesperson for the Ford Motor. "We fully expect next year's all-new 2020 Explorer will perform well on both the small overlap test and other tests."
The IIHS admits it's hard to know how many fatal front-end collisions involve the passenger side front corner of the vehicle hitting another automobile or object. In 2016, almost 4,000 front-seat passengers were killed in auto accidents. That's just over 16 percent of all the people killed that year while riding in a vehicle.
We see a lot of new vehicles added to our customers’ auto policies in the summer. Do your research, find the vehicle that best suits you and then let us know so we can appropriately insure it for you.
Feel free to EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or TEXT or CALL – 615.377.1212 if we can help you with your insurance. We’re here to help and earn your business!
[Portions of this blog was taken from an article on CNBC.com written by Phil LeBeau (06-12-2018)
Two former burglars have shared their tips on how to best protect your home from intruders. The ex-criminals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, revealed these steps all homeowners can take to secure their property, particularly before heading off on their vacation. Some focus on ways to make your home look less appealing to potential intruders, including installing fake burglar alarms and security cameras outside. Others offer tips to safeguard yourself against becoming a target in the first place, like by reducing the amount of information you share on social media.
The guide was created in partnership with Bark.com, a UK-based listings website for service professionals, which has seen a 42% increase in the demand for home security services.
Here are 10 tips to consider!
1. Take passports and driving licenses with you
Criminals can easily commit identity fraud with this information. It's a modern-day crime that is less risky and growing in popularity. Be sure to take your key identity documents with you every time you go away even if you don't need them to travel.
2. Use a recording of a dog barking
A dog's bark will make thieves think twice about breaking in. They'll think that someone else is in the house or that the dog will attract unwanted attention to them. Some home security companies offer alarms with these recordings built in.
3. Install a deadlock
The installation of a deadlock will make it a lot harder and time-consuming to pick a lock. In most cases, a burglar will move on when they realize they're up against a deadlock.
4. Don't post on social media
Too many people freely put information about their schedules on social media, which helps burglars when it comes to figuring out when to steal from a property.
5. Keep on top of your gardening
If the lawn is freshly mowed, then burglars will question whether a house is in fact vacant. It also gets rid of any potential hiding spots. Burglars will watch houses for a few days to see patterns of the occupants so it's a good idea to hire a gardener or someone to do lawn maintenance to come around while you're away.
6. Install a burglar alarm - or use a fake one
An alarm, even if it’s just a convincing fake, might be enough to deter any burglars from even attempting to break into your home. If you're put off by the cost, sometimes just the sight of one will put a thief off so you don't necessarily need to fork out for a real one.
7. Install perimeter cameras on your home
Like with burglar alarms, these don't always need to be functioning. If a burglar is casing your home, they'll likely avoid yours because of the increased risk of getting caught.
8. Make sure keys are hidden from sight
If someone can see keys from your window they're more likely to break in. Keys will also give intruders access to other areas of your home, such as your garage, and your car.
9. Buy motion activated lights
These lights will come on when anyone comes near your property, making sure that burglars can't break in without being seen. They might also be enough to attract the attention of neighbors if you are away.
10. Put WD-40 on your window sills
An unconventional but effective way to get rid of thieves trying to get in your home. The WD-40 will make it difficult for them to grip and use the window sill to climb into your home.
Summertime vacations pose a higher risk of thefts. We see an increase in our claim processing during the summer – many are theft claims. Hopefully, these items will help you to prepare for those who might take advantage of you while you’re away.
Feel free to EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or TEXT or CALL – 615.377.1212 if we can help you with your insurance. We’re here to help you be prepared for the unexpected during this wonderful time of the year! It’s what we do as we earn your business!
[Portions of this blog was taken from an article in Daily Mail written by Stephanie Linning For Mailonline, www.dailymail.co.uk]
Buying long-term care insurance is about risk management. It boils down to how you answer these four questions:
1. Would a tragic event (i.e. becoming disabled and requiring long-term care services) overwhelm and deplete everything you own?
2. Given your family history, what is the probability of you needing long-term care?
3. Do you have ample retirement assets and income to pay for all the costs of long-term care?
4. Do you mind reducing your estate if the need for long-term care occurs?
How you answer will determine whether long-term care insurance is right for you. According to a LifePlans, Inc. survey, about two-thirds of those who buy LTC insurance do so either to avoid dependence on others (69%), protect their assets (67%), make long-term care services affordable (66%), or preserve their standard of living (59%)
It’s been estimated that for folks 65+ about two-thirds or more are eventually going to need long-term care. But what’s often not mentioned is that more than half of those needing care will need it for less than 3 months, which just happens to be the time period before most long-term care insurance coverage kicks in. In addition, the average stay in a long-term care facility is between one year and one and a half years – longer for women, shorter for men. That should somewhat soften the risk of blowing through your entire assets. Furthermore, just because you want LTC insurance, you may not qualify. There’s a chance the insurance companies might not be willing to take the risk on you, especially if there’s a history of early-onset dementia, coronary disease, or diabetes in your family.
Nevertheless, if preserving your estate is critical to you, and the fear of losing everything keeps you up at night, you should consider purchasing long-term care insurance. The first decision you need to make is which company. While there are thousands of insurance companies currently doing business in the U.S., not all of them offer LTC insurance. So selecting the right insurance carrier and policy becomes a challenge. The selection of the company may even be more important than the policy itself since, essentially, you are purchasing a promise to pay a claim in the future.
Here are some guidelines for choosing the right long-term care policy.
Steps to Choosing the Right Policy
Step 1: Determine your need
Find out the average annual nursing home costs in your area, subtract fixed income sources (e.g. Social Security or pensions), and subtract streams of income derived from your assets. If a shortage remains, then long-term care insurance should be considered.
Example: Cost of nursing home care is $100,000 per year. Fixed income sources (i.e. Social Security, pensions, etc.) available are $50,000 per year. Nest egg is $500,000. Assuming a 5% return, another $25,000 per year becomes available.
Formula: $100,000 (cost) – $50,000 (fixed income) – $25,000 (investment income) = $25,000 per year shortage.
In the above example, the individuals would experience a shortfall of $25,000 per year. They would be wise to consider a long-term care policy that would cover this shortfall. Alternatively, some individuals may elect to cover the entire $100,000 per year through long-term care insurance in order to insure their retirement nest egg.
Step 2: Begin the search
If you decide you want LTC insurance, select a core group of insurance companies you can choose from. If you already have an insurance agent you trust, check with him or her to make a recommendation. The most important concern at this point is that the company will be around if and when the benefit is needed. So pick companies with high financial ratings from the four main rating companies within the insurance industry: A.M. Best, Standards & Poors, Duff & Phelps, and Moodys. A safe bet would be to consider companies that are rated no lower than “A” or its equivalent.
Step 3: Narrow the search
Examine the size of the company’s assets and investigate how long a company has been in operation, especially in the business of long-term care insurance, and have a track record. Pay particularly close attention to the history of rate increases. Also, call your state Superintendent of Insurance Department to see if there are any problems with the company. Finally, make sure you consider companies that offer a variety of policies: individual coverage, joint coverage, family coverage and partnership plans, where applicable.
Step 4: Customize the policy and choose the plan that’s best for you
This is the most complicated step since the number of variations available is staggering.
The three areas that will most influence the cost are:
1. How much benefit is purchased (received either as a daily or monthly benefit)
2. How long the benefit will last (usually defined by a specified number of years)
3. How soon the benefit begins (defined by a specified number of days).
Keep in mind that there is no “right” policy, just more appropriate ones for you and your partner. It’s likely that several companies will offer excellent programs for pretty much the same price.
Guaranteed Renewability: Most long-term care insurance policies are guaranteed renewable, meaning the insurance company must renew your coverage as long as your premiums are paid in a timely manner. But guaranteed renewable also grants the insurance companies protection against adverse claims experience. That means that while a company cannot single you out and increase your personal premium, it can increase the cost of insurance across the board within a certain group.
Cost of Living Adjustment Rider (COLA): If you don’t submit a claim until later, you’ll want to be sure that you still have enough coverage to account for increases in the cost of care. To protect against inflation increases, you’ll want the policy to include protection against inflation both prior to and once you’ve made a claim.
Non-forfeiture Benefit: If you eventually suffer from a cognitive impairment and are either unaware of receiving the premium bill or forget to pay it, the policy coverage could lapse due to nonpayment of premium. With a non-forfeiture benefit, the policy would not be canceled.
Waiver of Premium: Waiver of premium means that if you submit a claim against the policy, the company will waive all future premiums for a specified time while you are receiving benefits. The time period for premium waiver varies from carrier to carrier: some offer a 90 day period, some a 100 day period, and others over a 180 day period. Preferably, choose a policy with a waiver of premium that becomes effective after a short time period.
Given all the considerations, here is a list of questions you should get answers to before signing onto a long-term care insurance plan.
15 Questions to Ask about Long-Term Care Insurance
1. What kind of care is covered? (Skilled nursing care, Intermediate care, Custodial care Home health care)
2. How much will be paid for each level of care?
3. Is there a waiting period before benefits are payable?
4. How long will the policy pay benefits?
5. Is there a maximum policy benefit?
6. Will benefits increase with inflation?
7. Are pre-existing conditions covered? If so, what is the waiting period?
8. Does the policy impose any eligibility requirements?
9. Is Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia specifically covered?
10. Can the insurer cancel the policy?
11. Can the premium increase over the life of the policy?
12. Does the policy contain a waiver of premium?
13. Does the insurer have an A+ or A rating from Best’s Insurance Reports or other insurance rating organizations?
14. Is the insurer experienced in handling health insurance claims?
15. Is the policy guaranteed renewable?
These are questions we answer often and represent several great companies that offer Long-Term Care insurance. We also have an option where you can have life insurance that pays for Long-Term care coverage while you are living. It’s a front-edge program that many are interested in these days.
Feel free to EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or TEXT or CALL – 615.377.1212 if we can help you with your insurance. We’re here to simplify insurance and help you find ways to cover risks that could be in your future. We’re ALWAYS READY to earn your business!
[Portions of the blog post taken from a recent report By Bart Astor, www.forbes.com]
WASHINGTON, D.C. - More than one hit-and-run crash occurs every minute on U.S. roads, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. These resulted in 2,049 deaths in 2016 – the highest number on record and a 60 percent increase since 2009. With the number of hit-and-run crashes on the rise, AAA is calling for drivers to be alert on the road in order to avoid a deadly crash and always remain on the scene if a crash occurs.
AAA researchers examined common characteristics of hit-and-run crashes and found that:
- An average of 682,000 hit-and-run crashes occurred each year since 2006.
- Nearly 65 percent of people killed in hit-and-run crashes were pedestrians or bicyclists.
- Hit-and-run deaths in the U.S. have increased an average of 7.2 percent each year since 2009.
“Hit-and-run crashes in the United States are trending in the wrong direction,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Our analysis shows that hit-and-run crashes are a growing traffic safety challenge and the AAA Foundation would like to work with all stakeholders to help curtail this problem.”
The report found that most victims of fatal hit-and-run crashes are pedestrians or bicyclists. Over the past 10 years, nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths were caused by hit-and-run crashes, meanwhile just one percent of all driver fatalities in that same time period. To decrease the chances of being involved in a crash with a pedestrian or bicyclist, drivers should:
- Be aware: Pedestrians may act unpredictably and can walk into the path of travel at any point.
- Be cautious: Look out for small children and be alert to areas where there are likely to be more pedestrians. These include school zones, playgrounds, bus stops and intersections.
- Be patient: When trying to pass a pedestrian or cyclist, give plenty of space and keep them in your line of sight.
- Be vigilant: Drivers should always yield to pedestrians, even if they walk into the road from an area other than a crosswalk.
Currently, every state has laws that make it illegal for a driver involved in a crash to flee the scene. State penalties vary depending on the type of crash (i.e. property damage, injury, serious injury or a fatality). If found guilty, drivers can face large fines, lose their license or spend time in prison. AAA encourages drivers to educate themselves about specific hit-and-run laws in their state and remain alert on the road to prevent crashes from occurring.
If a driver is involved in a crash, they should never leave the scene and follow the steps below:
- Assist the injured– Check for injured people and call 911.
- Be visible– Make sure that the scene is visible to approaching drivers. If possible, move vehicles out of the path of traffic, and use hazard flashers, flares, and reflective triangles. Find a safe place to remain until emergency services arrive, if needed.
- Communicate– Call the police and file a report. If the police do not come to the scene, you can file a report by visiting a local police department or your automobile insurance agency.
We have experienced claims from these types of incidents over the years! It’s a tragedy when a vehicle hits someone. Any time we have helped our insured with a claim, they were panic stricken that the event occurred. That’s why we do our best with each customer to ascertain the correct amount of insurance both in physical damage and liability, so they are well protected when an accidental event like this might occur. Without question, leaving the scene of an accident compounds the problem for the at fault party greatly.
Feel free to EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or TEXT or CALL – 615.377.1212 if we can help you with your insurance. We’re here to encourage you to stay safe and we’re always ready to earn your business!
[Portions of the blog post taken from a recent report from AAA.com - AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety division.]
We have been candid and completely forthright with our thoughts about TEXTING and DRIVING or DISTRACTED DRIVING! One action IS NOT worth the results of what can happen when you are behind a wheel of a car or riding with someone driving who gets distracted.
AT&T has come forward with their “IT CAN WAIT!” campaign and it’s eye-opening to say the least. I’ll say no more and let this following video speak for us and so many others in saying: “IS IT WORTH IT!?”
Insurance rates are already being affected by distracted driving claims. In the future, auto insurance rate increases could be mostly based on these unfortunate events that could cost you your life or the life of someone you love. Let’s hope more can be done to prevent future occurrences of these events happening. Life is a gift and too special to be wasted away with a 1 or 2 second glance away from the road to read something on a phone that certainly can wait until you or we stop driving.
Feel free to EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or TEXT or CALL – 615.377.1212 if we can help you with your insurance. We’re here to encourage you to stay safe and we’re always ready to earn your business!
- From the customer: “I’m not sure I have enough coverage on my home or on my property. How much is enough?”
- From the insurance company: “You just wrote a new home insurance policy for one of your insured’s and our walk-around inspection indicates the dwelling value amount is too low.”
It’s been interesting determining dwelling values over the last couple of years simply because, as the video below will show, the price to re-construct a dwelling is higher than the purchase price of the home or property. So that becomes a challenge to educate the insured that if your home is worth $800,000, we need to insure it for $860,000 (which includes the land).
This video gives a great view of what so many in this country are facing as we all deal with correct values for insurance coverage:
At Benton White Insurance, we don’t want to over-insure or under-insure your property! We want to do our best to help you obtain the coverage you need if you lose it all to a fire or tornado. That’s our ultimate goal. We have calculation programs to determine what type of home you have and we include all of the amenities you bring to insure. Then we approximate a ‘contractors estimate’ to rebuild that should be very close to today’s market standards. However, something we do that not all insurance agents take time to do is to REVIEW annually your coverage’s in order to make sure that re-build pricing and inflation hasn’t affected that dwelling value number to the point that we might need to adjust it. If you are with an insurer now that doesn’t do that, you probably aren’t insured correctly.
Let us help! With over 50 years of combined insurance experience, we are ready to assist you with auto insurance, homeowners insurance or some other insurance need you may face. EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or TEXT or CALL us at 615.377.1212. We’re here and ready to EARN your business!
What would you do if your home was destroyed by a fire, or one of your water pipes burst while you were on vacation, or a burglar stole valuable items from your home?
You can’t prepare for everything but planning for the unexpected when dealing with property claims could make these situations easier to handle.
Below are some things to consider before a loss happens:
- Take photographs with a phone camera to document ownership of items.
- Walk room by room, making notes of items. Don’t forget things like artwork, bedding, and clothing.
- Prepare an inventory list of your property throughout your home.
- Make sure you record high-value items such as antiques, guns, and jewelry.
- Don’t forget storage sheds and your garage for contents you may have outside of the home.
If you suffer a loss, below is a checklist of things to do to make the claim go more efficiently:
- Notify us immediately at Benton White Insurance. We’re here to help!
- Protect your property from further damage.
- Create an inventory of damaged or destroyed items.
- Keep your inventory cataloged by room. This way you’ll be less likely to forget something.
- Fully describe each damaged item, including quantity, age, brand, model and serial number, if available.
- Submit completed inventory forms to your claim adjuster when they ask for them as soon as possible.
- Save all receipts for items you replaced and number each to correspond with your inventory.
Dealing with a loss can be emotional and time-consuming. It is our agency’s goal to provide excellent claims service. By using these tips, you will be better prepared for the unexpected and know what to do if a loss occurs.
Great companies, great service and nearly 50 years of combined insurance experience makes us one of the top agencies in this area. We’re ready to help you with your insurance!
Feel free to EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or TEXT or CALL – 615.377.1212. We’re always ready to earn your business!
Two peer-to-peer trends that are growing in popularity are ride-sharing and personal vehicle sharing, or car-sharing. Most people do not realize that their personal auto insurance policy may not cover them if they were to suffer a loss using either service.
Ride-sharing involves a transportation network company (TNC), such as Uber or Lyft, which provides prearranged transportation services for compensation. This is done by using a digital network (app) to connect passengers with drivers using their personal vehicles to transport people, goods, items or products for a fee. Individuals like to use a TNC as an alternative to taking a taxi or renting a vehicle, and those who drive for a TNC do so as a way to make extra income.
A personal vehicle sharing program, or car-sharing, provides individuals with the opportunity to list their personal vehicle(s) online for rent to others. This gives vehicle owners an opportunity to make some extra money with a vehicle that they may not often drive. It also serves as an alternative rental option rather than using a traditional auto rental agency.
If you lend your vehicle via a personal vehicle sharing program or drive for a transportation network company, please discuss this with us at Benton White Insurance to ensure that you have the right coverage. An assumption that coverage is provided for an exposure like ride-sharing vs. not having coverage could be costly if you had an unfortunate claim while driving for one of these type companies. We can easily offer a solution for you that will hopefully prevent a tragic situation.
With over 50 years of combined insurance experience, we are ready to assist you with auto insurance, homeowners insurance or some other insurance need you may face. EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or TEXT or CALL us at 615.377.1212. We’re here and ready to EARN your business!
Driver distraction is a leading cause of vehicle accidents. Nearly 80% of vehicle crashes involve driver inattention, according to research conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
Eating and drinking, talking to a fellow passenger, applying makeup, programming a GPS or navigation system, or simply adjusting the radio all qualify as distracted driving. But using a cellphone while behind the wheel is undoubtedly the biggest cause.
According to a study conducted by Cambridge Metrics Telematics (CMT) last year, phone distraction occurred in 52% of trips that resulted in a crash—an unsurprising statistic considering that same study found that 75% of drivers see other drivers on their phones every day.
Watch this eye-opening video from The Today Show...
The overall insurance industry has observed a dramatic spike in fatalities on the road because of distracted driving in the last couple of years. It’s getting industry attention!
According to the latest annual Risk Index, 40% of drivers polled admitted they have been involved in an accident or almost caused an accident because of their own distracted driving. Those numbers are self-reported, of course but people are saying that they’re doing this more and more.
And the increase is making everyone nervous: 63% of drivers are more afraid of distracted drivers than drunk drivers, according to the CMT study.
Because of national education campaigns and law enforcement, drunk driving is both socially stigmatized and punishable with hefty fines, disqualification and imprisonment. In 2018, however, the same cannot be said about distracted driving.
According to Sam Madden, chief scientist, CMT, there is no doubt about the source of the first rise in road fatalities the insurance industry has noticed in a long time. “We see alcohol-related deaths are down, the educational campaigns around alcohol are working, and yet the number of fatalities is going up for the first time,” he says. “We certainly believe that’s a result of distracted driving.”
Penalties for distracted driving vary by state. Most levy fines under $400, while five states do not have any laws against it at all. And if law enforcement isn’t going to put the brakes on distracted driving, the insurance industry may step forward to be at the forefront of raising this as an issue.
Since April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, here are three ways that can possibly help in kicking this growing distracted driving issue to the curb:
Education. Few drivers are aware that texting while driving at 55 mph is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. In an effort to change people’s attitudes about the dangers of distracted driving, the Travelers Institute® Every Second Matters initiative provides statistics, conversations starters and quizzes that insurance professionals can share with their clients. The campaign is focused on the social norm—to change people’s awareness and to say that this really is not OK. It’s obvious that it’s just not OK to text your way all the way to work or always be on the phone while you’re in the car.
“This is not a problem that is just going to go away on its own,” Madden agrees. “As a society, we just have to accept that it is not OK for thousands of young people to die every year because of smartphones. We have to make people aware of it.”
Technology. Paradoxically, on the same device that facilitates most distracted driving, apps are becoming available that help drivers educate themselves about the amount of time they spend distracted when they’re behind the wheel—data which insurers can also incorporate into rating tools.
CMT’s DriveWell app does exactly that. “When you put this app in peoples’ hands, it makes them realize that they actually are engaging in distracted driving,” Madden says. “Results show that within a couple weeks, people reduce distracted driving behavior by 30% or more on average.”
Employers. One of the most common reasons drivers use their cellphones while driving is due to work. According to some insurance companies, 43% of employed American adults who drive admit to making work-related communications such as emails and calls while driving. And 27% say their boss has called or texted them even though they knew they were driving.
In a survey, only 27% of commercial clients reported having a formal policy on distracted driving that was strictly enforced.
At Benton White Insurance, we have been concerned about his issue for several years and have brought attention to it with our customers and our social media readers. We are seeing locally the impact of distracted driving. Auto insurance rates have already begun to increase slightly because of the additional claims we are all seeing from distracted driving. We URGE you to drive when you drive and do nothing else. The odds aren’t in your favor to do it any other way.
Great companies, great service and nearly 50 years of combined insurance experience makes us one of the top agencies in this area and we’re ready to help you with your insurance! Feel free to EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or TEXT or CALL – 615.377.1212. We’re always ready to earn your business!
Portions of this article was presented by Will Jones, IAMagazine.com – March, 2018.
What is Umbrella Insurance?
Whether it’s a serious at-fault auto accident or an incident on your property, you can quickly find yourself responsible for damages that exceed the limits on your auto, homeowners, renters or boat policy. And an expensive judgment is the last thing you want to worry about. A Personal Liability Umbrella policy can help protect your assets and provide additional insurance protection.
Will your primary insurance policies be enough?
Auto, homeowners and other property insurance liability limits may not be adequate to cover a large court judgment. The example to the right shows how easy it is to find yourself without enough coverage – even if you have high liability limits on your auto or property policy.
Enjoy peace of mind
To make it easy for you to get the right level of coverage for your specific needs, we offer limits ranging from $1 million to $1O million for customers meeting eligibility criteria. And, when you require legal defense for a covered claim, the policy helps cover defense costs such as attorney's fees and other expenses.
At Benton White Insurance, we’re committed to bringing you innovative insurance solutions
It's a commitment built on our nearly 50 years of combined staff experience in this business. We want you to be protected for as many risk exposures as we can cover. Certainly, this Personal Liability Umbrella protection is a key piece to anyone’s insurance portfolio.
We offer personal insurance offerings which include homeowners, condominium, renters, automobile, boat and yacht, and wedding and valuable items. Our full line of companion coverages offers you the convenience of dealing with just one agency with the experience you need to assist you in making the right insurance decisions.
Great companies with great service makes us one of the top agencies in this area and we’re ready to help you with your Personal Liability Umbrella protection or any other insurance coverage you may need. Feel free to EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or TEXT or CALL – 615.377.1212.
We’re always ready to earn your business!
This material is for informational purposes only. All statements herein are subject to the provisions, exclusions, and conditions of the applicable policy. For an actual description of all coverages, terms, and conditions, refer to the insurance policy. Coverages are subject to individual insureds meeting our underwriting qualifications and to state availability.
I get questions often about Long Term Care coverage: “Should I buy it?” or “Should I buy it now or wait?” and many more. After customers research the policy, one of their main objections is that it’s too expensive. However, I tell them … it’s MUCH MORE COSTLY NOT to purchase it. Honestly, without Long Term Care, it would wreck your financial future!
Yes, long-term care insurance is not cheap, but medical insurance and Medicare typically do not cover that particular type of care, and it is incredibly expensive. The 2017 Genworth Cost of Care Survey lists the national median cost for a private room in a nursing home as $267 a day, which is $8,121 per month, and $97,455 per year. As you can see, if you need that care, your money could disappear very quickly.
And, unfortunately, you probably will need long-term care. On its website, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says:
- Someone turning age 65 today has almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services and supports in their remaining years.
- Women need care longer (3.7 years) than men (2.2 years).
- One-third of today’s 65-year-olds may never need long-term care support, but 20% will need it for longer than five years.
Now that you are convinced (and I hope you are), there are a few things to consider when buying long-term care insurance:
Purchase it with your partner. Insurance companies offer discounts to couples who are married. You could save up to 30%.
Consider shared care. You can purchase a feature that allows couples to share the benefits of each other's policies. For example: If Mr. and Mrs. Smith each buy $200,000 in benefits and Mr. Smith needs long-term care, he can use all of his $200,000 and then tap into Mrs. Smith's policy, which, if untouched, could provide another $200,000 in benefits.
Don’t forget inflation coverage. Long-term care insurance has its own inflation rate, and it typically rises faster than the national inflation rate.
We can shop around for you. Since we are an independent agency, we have many choices with first-rate companies who are competitive in this Long Term Care market space. If you're like most people, you don't even know what coverage looks like. We can help you decide what your monthly benefits would be, and how they compare to the costs of long-term care in our area!
Buy before your birthday. Long-term care insurance rates are based on your age. You'll save money if you buy before your next birthday.
Learn about any possible tax write-offs. If you are a business owner, or have high health care costs, your long-term care insurance premiums may be tax deductible.
Let us help you navigate the maze of choices! Long-term care insurance is complex. There are hundreds if not thousands of different kinds of long-term care policies offered by hundreds of different insurance companies. Let us help you navigate through the confusion.
I strongly advise that you investigate the merits of a policy. Consider it portfolio insurance; after all, you’re protecting your finances from potentially devastating damage.
Great companies, great service and nearly 50 years of insurance experience makes us one of the top agencies in this area and we’re ready to help you with your Long Term Care coverage or any other insurance coverage you may need. Feel free to EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or TEXT or CALL – 615.377.1212. We’re always ready to earn your business!
Portions of this article was presented in KIPLINGER MAGAZINE ONLINE in March, 2018.
We have been writing insurance policies with TRAVELERS Insurance Company for several years now. They’re one of our premier companies who we quote daily to our prospects & insureds who want competitive pricing and enhanced coverage’s.
I attended a regional meeting a few days ago where we learned many front-edge initiatives that Travelers will be implementing over the next 12 to 24 months. They are innovative and consumer favorable on many levels.
These A+ rated Top 10 carriers are ramping up investments in both self-service digital platforms and the smart home, with the goals of gathering more customer data, expediting payments and educating policyholders on best home-maintenance practices.
The company is currently piloting a do-it-yourself home inspection tool for homeowners in select Northeastern states – coming to Tennessee soon! Customers will be able to snap and upload photos to the Travelers mobile app at the time of a new policy purchase, instead of waiting for an inspector to complete an on-site physical assessment.
This past September, the insurer also announced the launch of two new website tools: Home Central and Open House. Home Central connects homeowners with tips about buying, selling and renovating a home, while OpenHouse allows consumers to search for addresses and receive a snapshot of the work that has been done to the property. Travelers then informs potential buyers when a roof was last replaced, or the dates of any other major upgrades completed.
The company’s latest home-insurance offering – coming to our agency this August - is aimed at helping agents and individual consumers bind coverages using a new quoting tool that simplifies language on policy documents.
“The biggest difference the current program and the newer – soon to be released program is it’s not one size fits all,” said Eric Nordquist, SVP of personal insurance products at Travelers. “We offer strong segmentation to classify risk but wanted to have a much more flexible product out there. Every customer is different, so we opted for value-added packages.”
Homeowners will be able to create personalized à la carte style coverages through a compilation of services, including decreasing deductibles and loss forgiveness; appliance breakdown protection; full coverage on water damage; and discounts for owning smart-home devices guarding against fire, burglary and water leaks. Travelers is in ongoing discussions with multiple vendors to distribute smart devices to policyholders in exchange for sensor data, Nordquist says.
“The more safety devices you have in the home, the better potential there is for keeping it safe,” he added. “Debate, in terms of the magnitude of their impact, will continue as the market matures.”
The carrier is already pulling third-party data on residential properties in order to prefill online applications for Travelers applicants. The goal is to improve quoting speed by reducing the amount of questions asked to clients and accurately determine replacement costs of a home. Variables such as total square footage, number of bathrooms and age of roof are factored in underwriting, Nordquist says. Gathered data is collected via a third-party vendor source.
The company is bringing these new – value-added benefits to Tennessee in August 2018.
At Benton White Insurance, we’ve seen first hand how Travelers operates with very competitive rates, quick and responsive claim service and easy customer service opportunities available to each of our insureds. They’re one of our top carriers and chances are, when we quote your business, Travelers is in the mix.
Great companies, great service and nearly 50 years of insurance experience makes us one of the top agencies in this area and we’re ready to help you. Feel free to EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or TEXT or CALL – 615.377.1212. We’re always ready to earn your business!
Boating season is literally upon us. Whether you fish, ski, or just take the boat out to relax, you HAVE to ask the question - "Am I covered for what might happen out on the water!?"
What we find is that many boat owners just purchase a policy by making sure the price is affordable, and they sometimes miss the small print about what IS and what IS NOT covered. We write insurance on boats and have several policies in force for happy customers. But as I've mentioned, we always want to make sure that we are insuring those folks with the broadest and most affordable coverage in the marketplace. The good news is that we've got companies that ARE competitive.
Here are SIX REASONS you need to let US write your boat insurance!
- Our policies are the best at protecting you from coverage gaps. Not all boat policies are the same. Some leave you financially vulnerable and otherwise unprepared for the unexpected. Our policies address Mechanical Breakdown, Salvage, and Wreck Removal! Does your policy?
- You can get up to 15% discounts on your policy when you let us package other coverage such as home, auto or condo with us.
- If you don't have other insurance policies that we need to write, we can write your boat as a stand-alone policy with no other business. You don't see that much in the marketplace.
- Our companies have specialized marine claim units. Some boat insurance companies have claim handlers that see a car one day and a boat the next needing claim attention. So they don't specialize in marine claims. My companies offer marine specialists that are highly trained, ensuring that your boat will be back on the water as soon as possible following a covered loss.
- Our companies offer inclusive, comprehensive coverage for risks that you, a boat owner might face!
- If you've got a JET SKI, we can help! Our minimum premium for most jet ski's is $175 per year.
Let us review your current boat policy and explain the differences we have vs. what you currently have insured.
We write all types of insurance at Benton White Insurance! We always want to 'earn' your business by offering you competitive pricing on extensive coverage's. It's the way we have been doing business for nearly 40 years. Let us help you!
Have Questions? Need Coverage? Contact Us Today!
Email us at info@BentonWhite.com or TEXT or CALL us at 615.377.1212.
At Benton White Insurance we are always trying to make our service as streamlined and as simple for our wonderful customers! We want you to be able to contact us and get answers to your questions as quickly and easily as you can. That is why we are introducing TEXTING as an option to those who would like to use it!
- Question about billing? Text or Call us!
- Claim question or confusion? Text or Call us!
- Want to make a policy change? Text or Call us!
- Got an insurance question? Text or Call us!
TEXT or CALL us @ 615.377.1212.
Of course, our website www.bentonwhite.com offers these solutions also. We’ve just added TEXTING as another quick way for you to get to us!
If you need us, we're here to help!
Is the life insurance you’re getting through your employer enough to take care of your family? And are you paying too much for that coverage? A healthy 50-year-old male could save nearly 80% on premiums in the first year alone by switching from an employer-provided term life insurance policy to an individual one, according to the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), a professional association of fee-only financial planners. Young, healthy employees might also be better off with individual coverage, since they can lock in low rates for decades.
But many companies pay for some amount of life insurance for their workers; they also allow workers to purchase more coverage for themselves and their spouses at a low cost and with no medical exam. As a result, many families obtain all of their life insurance through an employer. If you make $75,000 per year, your employer might provide $75,000 or $150,000 in coverage at little or no out-of-pocket cost to you, and the premiums will come straight out of your paycheck. This way, you’ll never miss the money or worry about paying the bill. And even if you’ve had less-than-perfect health, you’ll qualify for just as much coverage as your co-workers. That all sounds enticing, but there are several potential problems with obtaining life insurance through work.
Problem 1: Your employer may not offer enough life insurance.
While basic employer-provided life insurance is low-cost or free, and you may be able to buy additional coverage at low rates, your policy’s face value still may not be high enough. If your premature death would be a financial burden to your spouse and/or children, you probably need coverage worth five to eight times your annual salary. Some experts even recommend getting coverage worth 10 to 12 times your annual salary.
“Most people are able to buy an additional four to six times their salary in supplemental coverage over and above what’s provided by their employer," says Brian Frederick, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) with Stillwater Financial Partners in Scottsdale, Arizona. “While this amount is sufficient for some people, it isn’t enough for employees that have non-working spouses, a sizable mortgage, large families or special needs dependents.”
Another shortcoming? “Death benefits that replace salary do not take into account bonuses, commissions, second incomes and the value of additional benefits such as medical insurance and retirement contributions,” says Mitchell Barber, a financial services professional at the Center for Wealth Preservation, a Syosset, N.Y.-based agency of MassMutual Financial Group.
Your employer’s group life insurance might be sufficient if you’re single or if you have a spouse who isn’t dependent on your income to cover household expenses and you don’t have children. But if you’re in this situation, you probably don’t need life insurance at all.
Problem 2: You’ll lose your coverage if your job situation changes.
As with health insurance, you don’t want gaps in your life insurance coverage, because you never know when you might need it. Most workers who get coverage through work don’t know where their life insurance will come from if they change jobs, are laid off, their employer goes out of business, or they switch from full-time to part-time status. You usually won’t be able to keep your policy in these scenarios. Lack of portability can be a problem if you aren’t going directly to another job with similar coverage and aren’t healthy enough to qualify for an individual policy. Some policies do allow you to convert your group policy to an individual one, but it will likely become much more expensive, as you’ll be converting your term policy to a costlier permanent policy. And if you’re losing your coverage because you were laid off, the premiums might be unaffordable.
“Since the products that are available for conversion from an employer-provided plan are typically limited to just one insurance carrier’s offerings, a client can generally find a more cost-efficient insurance policy outside of the employer’s plan,” says Thaddeus J. Dziuba III, a life insurance specialist for PRW Wealth Management in Quincy, Mass. “This presupposes that the client can obtain favorable underwriting, however. As a rule of thumb, if a client can no longer get medically underwritten for new insurance coverage but still has a financial need for the death benefit provided by his or her company’s plan, then we often advise conversion regardless of price, since it will be unlikely that they can obtain coverage elsewhere,” he adds.
Problem 3: Coverage gets tricky if your health declines.
Another problem arises if you’re leaving your job because of a health problem. “If you relied solely or heavily upon group insurance, and then suffer a medical condition that forces you to leave your job, you may be losing your life insurance coverage just when your family is going to need it the most,” says Jim Saulnier, a CFP® with Jim Saulnier & Associates in Fort Collins, Colo. “At that point it would be too late to purchase your own policy at an affordable rate, if at all, depending on the medical condition,” he says.
Even if your health problems aren’t significant enough to stop you from working, they might limit your employment options if you only have life insurance through work. “You could end up handcuffed to your job to keep the life insurance if you experienced a serious enough health issue,” says David Rae, a CFP® and vice president of client services for Trilogy Financial Services in Los Angeles.
Also, you don’t control who provides this insurance, and your company could choose a lower-rated insurance company to save money. That could mean the insurance you paid for won’t be there to cover you when you need it. Be sure to check the A.M. Best rating of the life insurance company behind the benefit your employer offers. This rating will tell you whether the company is financially stable enough to pay your policy if the worst happens. Finally, another possibility is that your employer could stop offering life insurance as a benefit to save the company money, leaving you without coverage.
Problem 4: Your plan doesn’t provide enough coverage for your spouse.
While your employer’s benefits package probably provides health insurance for your spouse, it won’t always provide life insurance for your spouse. If it does, the coverage could be minimal — $100,000 is a common amount — and that sum doesn’t go far when you lose your husband or wife unexpectedly.
Couples often assume that the family will only suffer economic hardship if the primary breadwinner dies, says Jim Saulnier, and as a result, many workers fail to adequately insure their spouses. But non-working or lower-earning spouses can see their incomes impacted by their partner’s death. “I often say rhetorically to a client, if your wife dies on Saturday are you going back to work Monday morning? Do you have ample PTO [paid time off] on the books to cover an extended leave?” he says.
What’s more, says Barber, “When one parent is absent, the other must take up the slack with day care or chauffeuring. Hours are cut back. There is never time to properly grieve and, as survivors are often depressed, productivity often falls.”
Problem 5: Employer-provided life insurance may not be your cheapest option.
Even if you can get all the life insurance you need for both you and your spouse through your employer, it’s a good idea to price shop to see if your employer’s supplemental insurance really offers the best value for the money. You’re more likely to find a better rate elsewhere the younger and healthier you are. Also, unlike the guaranteed level-premium term life insurance you can purchase individually, which costs you the same amount every year for as long as you have the policy, the policy provided by your employer tends to get more expensive as you age.
“Employer coverage starts out being very cheap prior to age 35 and then rapidly increases in price,” says Frederick. “Most policies increase every five years and become incredibly expensive once the employee turns 50. If you are healthy and a non-smoker, buying a stand-alone policy might be cheaper than taking coverage through your employer,” he says.
“The reason for this is called moral hazard,” Saulnier says. “Employees who are too unhealthy to qualify for life insurance on their own tend to overload the group insurance because there is no underwriting, and life insurance companies make up for it by charging higher premiums,” he says. Overall, healthy people in group policies pay more than they would if they purchased private policies.
While there’s no reason not to take advantage of any free or inexpensive insurance your employer offers, it probably shouldn’t be your only source of life insurance, nor should most people rely heavily on the supplemental life insurance they can get through work. The solution to each of the problems described above is to purchase some or all of your life insurance directly through an individual term policy. You might need to purchase as much as 80% of your life insurance on your own to have enough and to make sure you’re covered at all times and under all circumstances.
If you don’t qualify medically for life insurance, you can purchase an individual term policy called “guaranteed issue,” which doesn’t require medical underwriting. These policies are typically much smaller and much more expensive than what you’d get under a term policy that you qualified for medically, but as long as you can afford the premiums (and life insurance premiums should be a priority in your budget), having this coverage is better than nothing. And if your health improves (for example, you quit smoking or overcome hypertension), you might be able to qualify for a medically underwritten individual policy and drop the more expensive policy that doesn’t require medical underwriting.
Barber believes that, on the whole, the most affordable solution is to buy the most insurance you can afford at the youngest age, since, as you age, the chance of acquiring an illness goes up, and with illness comes more expensive premiums, if you can qualify at all.
The Bottom Line
You need enough life insurance to cover all your debts and support your dependents. “Enough” includes paying off your credit cards, car loans and mortgage, paying for your children’s education, and making sure your spouse will have the financial means to take care of him or herself and your children. In a time of grief, the last thing you want is to leave your loved ones with another major life upheaval such as having to change jobs or schools because of financial strain, so take a close look at whether the life insurance you’re getting through work is the best way to provide for your loved ones.
Jennifer Smith doesn’t like the term “accident.” It implies too much chance and too little culpability.
A “crash” killed her mother in 2008, she insists, when her car was broadsided by another vehicle while on her way to pick up cat food. The other driver, a 20-year-old college student, ran a red light while talking on his mobile phone, a distraction that he immediately admitted and cited as the catalyst of the fatal event.
“He was remorseful,” Smith, now 43, said. “He never changed his story.”
Yet in federal records, the death isn’t attributed to distraction or mobile-phone use. It’s just another line item on the grim annual toll taken by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration [NHTSA]—one of 37,262 that year. Three months later, Smith quit her job as a realtor and formed Stopdistractions.org, a nonprofit lobbying and support group. Her intent was to make the tragic loss of her mother an anomaly.
To that end, she has been wildly unsuccessful. Nine years later, the problem of death-by-distraction has gotten much worse.
Over the past two years, after decades of declining deaths on the road, U.S. traffic fatalities surged by 14.4 percent. In 2016 alone, more than 100 people died every day in or near vehicles in America, the first time the country has passed that grim toll in a decade. Regulators, meanwhile, still have no good idea why crash-related deaths are spiking: People are driving longer distances but not tremendously so; total miles were up just 2.2 percent last year. Collectively, we seemed to be speeding and drinking a little more, but not much more than usual. Together, experts say these upticks don’t explain the surge in road deaths.
There are however three big clues, and they don’t rest along the highway. One, as you may have guessed, is the substantial increase in smartphone use by U.S. drivers as they drive. From 2014 to 2016, the share of Americans who owned an iPhone, Android phone, or something comparable rose from 75 percent to 81 percent.
The second is the changing way in which Americans use their phones while they drive. These days, we’re pretty much done talking. Texting, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are the order of the day—all activities that require far more attention than simply holding a gadget to your ear or responding to a disembodied voice. By 2015, almost 70 percent of Americans were using their phones to share photos and follow news events via social media. In just two additional years, that figure has jumped to 80 percent.
Finally, the increase in fatalities has been largely among bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians—all of whom are easier to miss from the driver’s seat than, say, a 4,000-pound SUV—especially if you’re glancing up from your phone rather than concentrating on the road. Last year, 5,987 pedestrians were killed by cars in the U.S., almost 1,100 more than in 2014—that’s a 22 percent increase in just two years.
Safety regulators and law enforcement officials certainly understand the danger of taking—or making—a phone call while operating a piece of heavy machinery. They still, however, have no idea just how dangerous it is, because the data just isn’t easily obtained. And as mobile phone traffic continues to shift away from simple voice calls and texts to encrypted social networks, officials increasingly have less of a clue than ever before.
Out of NHTSA’s full 2015 dataset, only 448 deaths were linked to mobile phones—that’s just 1.4 percent of all traffic fatalities. By that measure, drunk driving is 23 times more deadly than using a phone while driving, though studies have shown that both activities behind the wheel constitute (on average) a similar level of impairment. NHTSA has yet to fully crunch its 2016 data, but the agency said deaths tied to distraction actually declined last year.
There are many reasons to believe mobile phones are far deadlier than NHTSA spreadsheets suggest. Some of the biggest indicators are within the data itself. In more than half of 2015 fatal crashes, motorists were simply going straight down the road—no crossing traffic, rainstorms, or blowouts. Meanwhile, drivers involved in accidents increasingly mowed down things smaller than a Honda Accord, such as pedestrians or cyclists, many of whom occupy the side of the road or the sidewalk next to it. Fatalities increased inordinately among motorcyclists (up 6.2 percent in 2016) and pedestrians (up 9 percent).
“Honestly, I think the real number of fatalities tied to cell phones is at least three times the federal figure,” Jennifer Smith said. “We’re all addicted and the scale of this is unheard of.”
In a recent study (PDF), the nonprofit National Safety Council found only about half of fatal crashes tied to known mobile phone use were coded as such in NHTSA databases. In other words, according to the NSC, NHTSA’s figures for distraction-related death are too low.
Perhaps more telling are the findings of Zendrive Inc., a San Francisco startup that analyzes smartphone data to help insurers of commercial fleets assess safety risks. In a study of 3 million people, it found drivers using their mobile phone during 88 percent of trips. The true number is probably even higher because Zendrive didn’t capture instances when phones were mounted in a fixed position—so-called hands-free technology, which is also considered dangerous.
“It’s definitely frightening,” said Jonathan Matus, Zendrive’s co-founder and chief executive officer. “Pretty much everybody is using their phone while driving.”
There are, by now, myriad technological nannies that freeze smartphone activity. Most notably, a recent version of Apple’s iOS operating system can be configured to keep a phone asleep when its owner is driving and to send an automated text response to incoming messages. However, the “Do Not Disturb” function can be overridden by the person trying to get in touch. More critically, safety advocates note that such systems require an opt-in from the same users who have difficulty ignoring their phones in the first place.
In NHTSA’s defense, its tally of mobile phone-related deaths is only as good as the data it gets from individual states, each of which has its own methods for diagnosing and detailing the cause of a crash. Each state, in turn, relies on its various municipalities to compile crash metrics—and they often do things differently, too.
The data from each state is compiled from accident reports filed by local police, most of which don’t prompt officers to consider mobile phone distraction as an underlying cause. Only 11 states use reporting forms that contain a field for police to tick-off mobile-phone distraction, while 27 have a space to note distraction in general as a potential cause of the accident.
The fine print seems to make a difference. Tennessee, for example, has one of the most thorough accident report forms in the country, a document that asks police to evaluate both distractions in general and mobile phones in particular. Of the 448 accidents involving a phone in 2015 as reported by NHTSA, 84 occurred in Tennessee. That means a state with 2 percent of the country’s population accounted for 19 percent of its phone-related driving deaths. As in polling, it really depends on how you ask the question.
Massachusetts State Police Sergeant Christopher Sanchez, a national expert on distracted driving, said many police departments still focus on drinking or drug use when investigating a crash. Also, figuring out whether a mobile phone was in use at the time of a crash is usually is getting trickier every day—proving that it precipitated the event can be even harder to do.
Prosecutors have a similar bias. Currently, it’s illegal for drivers to use a handheld phone at all in 15 states, and texting while driving is specifically barred in 47 states. But getting mobile phone records after a crash typically involves a court order and, and even then, the records may not show much activity beyond a call or text. If police provide solid evidence of speeding, drinking, drugs or some other violation, lawyers won’t bother pursuing distraction as a cause.
“Crash investigators are told to catch up with this technology phenomenon—and it’s hard,” Sanchez said. “Every year new apps are developed that make it even more difficult.” Officers in Arizona and Montana, meanwhile, don’t have to bother, since they allow mobile phone use while you drive. And in Missouri, police only have to monitor drivers under age 21 who pick up their phone while driving.
Like Smith, Emily Stein, 36, lost a parent to the streets. Ever since her father was killed by a distracted driver in 2011, she sometimes finds herself doing unscientific surveys. She’ll sit in front of her home in the suburbs west of Boston and watch how many passing drivers glance down at their phones.
“I tell my local police department: ‘If you come here, sit on my stoop and hand out tickets. You’d generate a lot of revenue,’” she said.
Since forming the Safe Roads Alliance five years ago, Stein talks to the police regularly. “A lot of them say it surpasses drunk driving at this point,” she said. Meanwhile, grieving families and safety advocates such as her are still struggling to pass legislation mandating hands-free-only use of phones while driving—Iowa and Texas just got around to banning texting behind the wheel.
“The argument is always that it’s big government,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association. “The other issue is that … it’s hard to ban something that we all do, and we know that we want to do.”
Safety advocates such as Smith say, lawmakers, investigators, and prosecutors won’t prioritize the danger of mobile phones in vehicles until they are seen as a sizable problem—as big as drinking, say. Yet, it won’t be measured as such until it’s a priority for lawmakers, investigators, and prosecutors.
“That’s the catch-22 here,” Smith said. “We all know what’s going on, but we don’t have a breathalyzer for a phone.”
Perhaps the lawmakers who vote against curbing phone use in cars should watch the heart-wrenching 36-minute documentary filmmaker Werner Herzog made on the subject. Laudably, the piece, From One Second to the Next, was bankrolled by the country’s major cellular companies. “It’s not just an accident,” Herzog said of the fatalities. “It’s a new form of culture coming at us, and it’s coming with great vehemence.”
Adkins has watched smartphone culture overtake much of his work in 10 years at the helm of the GHSA, growing increasingly frustrated with the mounting death toll and what he calls clear underreporting of mobile phone fatalities. But he doesn’t think the numbers will come down until a backlash takes hold, one where it’s viewed as shameful to drive while using a phone. Herzog’s documentary, it appears, has had little effect in its four years on YouTube.com. At this point, Adkins is simply holding out for gains in autonomous driving technology.
Taken from an article published by BLOOMBERG Online - October 17, 2017. Written by Kyle Stock, Lance Lambert & David Ingold.
If you’re one of more than 38 million people working from your home in any capacity, beware: your home insurance may not provide adequate protection for your business, no matter how small. Thanks to the digital revolution, it’s never been more convenient to earn a living from your living space – but with each reward comes risk, and without the right coverage, that extra cash flow can turn from positive to negative.
Unfortunately, too many at-home earners aren’t aware of the gaps in their coverage until they’re presented with a dire situation, be it a hurricane or any other disaster. Their inventory and business property can literally go up in smoke, ruined by a water leak, or be outright stolen. And if they are relying on their homeowner insurance to pick up the pieces, they may be surprised to find they have very little financial recourse.
So what should you look for in a home-based business insurance policy? It can be complicated – which may be why so many people don’t have the insurance they really should. If you operate or conduct any sort of business out of your home, be sure your insurance partner offers some, if not all, of the following coverage options to best protect your interests.
Here are 10 coverage options that every home-based businessperson should opt for:
1) Replacement Cost Coverage for your Home Business Property. Broadly, this covers business personal property and home business property or inventory– such as a burst pipe damaging a wedding photographer’s camera equipment. Replacement Cost Coverage for your Home Business Property also includes personal property owned by others in your care, custody, or control for business purposes. (Think that wedding photographer’s client’s photo album...) This versatile policy is available for most professions.
2) Coverage for Other Structures on your property used for Home Business. For businesses that store their business property in a free standing garage or other structure on their property, special coverage is needed. Direct sellers for multi-level marketing brands often have a supply of expensive jewelry, candles, skin care products, clothing, etc. in their garage. Make sure you’re protected if that structure collapses under heavy snow.
3) Loss of Income and Extra Expense Replacement. As an option to guard against dreaded downtime, this protection covers loss of business income that would have been earned (and related incurred expenses) during an interruption of home business, or when the premises is unfit for occupancy due to a covered loss. Loss of income and extra expense protection can help take the sting out of a terrible time.
4) Business Liability. Business liability insurance can help protect you from a variety of claims, including bodily injury or property damage to others that can arise from your business operations. An at-home dog groomer may have customers coming and going from their home – and a customer may slip on the front porch, resulting in severe injuries. This type of coverage can shelter your assets, keeping them beyond the reach of a legal action.
5) Money and Securities Coverage. This coverage protects insured monies against loss by theft, disappearance, or destruction both on and off-premise. A jewelry crafter may keep the cash from her sales in a small safe in her home office, depositing the money in the bank once a week. If her home is robbed and the safe is stolen – or if her purse is snatched on the way to the bank – she won’t shoulder the financial loss.
6) Valuable Papers and Records Coverage. This coverage is especially useful for graphic designers and other creative professionals, since it provides coverage for the cost to reproduce most printed documents in the event of an accident. If an architect’s blueprints suffer some misfortune inside the home, he may claim money for the time already spent on the project.
7) Property of Others Coverage. Do you handle your clients’ personal belongings regularly? Consider opting for a policy that covers situations where personal property is temporarily in the care or custody of another person or entity. A work-from-home tailor who experiences a grease fire in the kitchen may also experience smoke damage to a client’s clothing. Property of others coverage will benefit both the business owner and the client.
8) Computer and Software Coverage. Tech jobs have seen a widespread exodus from on-site locations to home offices. If you’re a den-dwelling digital nomad, be sure your insurance covers digital hardware and software in the event of damage to your valuables during the course of business. Something as simple as a prospective client spilling a glass of water on your laptop can turn into a business disaster without the right coverage.
9) Professional Liability Coverage for Certain Professionals. You’ll need to speak with your local insurance agent to find out if your profession is eligible, but know that there’s coverage for when a business owner renders a professional service and an accidental mishap occurs. For instance, if an at-home barber accidentally cuts his client’s scalp and the client intends to seek payment for damages, he is covered.
10) Excess Liability Coverage Included in Your Homeowner Policy. Lastly, consider an option that has everything you need for homeowner, business and excess liability coverage, all under one policy. In the event a catastrophic claim comes your way from any one of countless scenarios, excess liability coverage puts a limit on top of your underlying policy.
Home-based business insurance picks up where homeowner insurance leaves off. So whether you’re an evening accountant, social media influencer on the side, full-time day trader, or home-party sales maven, make sure you’re covered. After all, you’re in this to make money – not lose it because you don’t have the right insurance.
Article written by Gary Capone, CPCU, ARM for FORBES MAGAZINE ONLINE ... Gary is Vice President of Field Services, Franklin Mutual Insurance (FMI), where he is responsible for Agency Relations, Marketing, and Loss Control. He has over 36 years experience in his industry, where he began as an insurance agent in 1981. Gary is active with the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of New Jersey, a Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter, and has an Associate Risk Manager designation.
Having convenience in the palm of your hand - 24/7 - is one of the big advantages of today's computer / mobile phone technology. Our companies understand this and are offering some excellent mobile apps to help you navigate your insurance portfolio you have with us.
Advantages of having the mobile app readily available:
- Pay your bills
- Set up and manage automatic payments
- Check the Status of a claim and/or view your claim history
- View your insurance ID Cards
- View your actual policy documents
- Manage document delivery options (you can go paperless)
There are many other advantages that each particular company offers.
The normal download process applies. Download the app from the Android or iOS store for free and begin using it immediately.
Check out these great company apps:
|Auto-Owners Insurance||Progressive Insurance||Travelers Insurance|
|Download any of these from the Android or iOS app store.|
We all want ease of use and having information at our finger tips has become a staple of our lives. I'm glad to see these companies stepping up to make our insurance lives easier with these great apps.
Thanks, as always, for reading the blog. If there is anything we can do for you regarding insurance, we're here and ready to earn your business. Contact our great staff at 615.377.1212 or email us at info@BentonWhite.com.
We get this question alot! For the coverage's afforded and the comfort level it could give to you and your family by spending about $200 per year for the policy, we think it's one of the easier policy decisions that our customers make. And MANY are taking advantage of this affordable - extra layer of protection.
I saw this video this morning that does a good job explaining how a Personal Liability Umbrella can help you protect your hard-earned assets for just pennies on the dollar:
We offer not only the above-mentioned liability umbrella but all of our companies have similar plans at affordable prices that can give you that extra layer of asset protection. Let us help! We can give you a quote while you are on the phone and can write the policy for you within 5 minutes electronically which saves you time and trips to our office to get the policy in force.
Remember, we like to say ... 'if it can be insured, we insure it and we SERVICE IT TOO!" Contact our office at info@BentonWhite.com or phone us at 615.377.1212. We're always ready to earn your business as we celebrate 39 years serving the public with all things insurance - this year!
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