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Monday, 26 September 2016
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I wanted to get this to you as soon as possible.  This is a major announcement regarding healthcare insurance here in Tennessee.  The #1 and largest provider of healthcare insurance in Tennessee is pulling out of the major metro markets including Nashville on the Obamacare exchange.  This article below from The Tennessean - released late this morning gives details. 
 

BCBST to pull out of Obamacare exchange in Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis - Read The Full Article


What This Means For Us...

Unfortunately, this will affect how we offer healthcare coverage in this agency because Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee was one of our primary healthcare providers.  Up until today, I have put my emphasis toward their good product(s) because one would think the largest provider would have success in this awkward national healthcare environment.  They couldn't and now we all will be forced to the healthcare.gov site to find decreasing amounts of providers that are still participating in the national healthcare system.  We will continue to find best avenues to share with our customers as it pertains to sustainable healthcare insurance.
 
The premise of having everyone covered for healthcare is a good one.  But no one has considered how the insurance companies that will provide the coverage can pay for it.  And since many companies are dropping out as a result, those that remain will undoubtedly be forced to increase their premiums by incredible percentages in order to continue to participate in all of this.  The story isn't over and we'll do out best to keep you informed as the progress or lack thereof develops.
 

Contact Us

As we celebrate 38 years in this business this Saturday - October 1, we're here if there is anything you need from us.  Certainly, our other markets are very stable in the auto, home, commercial, life and other personal lines of insurance.  If you need us for anything, we're ready to earn your good business.  THANKS for the opportunity to do just that!  EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or call any of our staff at 615.377.1212.  Stay tuned for more regarding this healthcare market as we learn more!
 
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Posted on 09/26/2016 3:10 PM by Benton White
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Wednesday, 31 August 2016
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Have you ever been in that horrible situation where you had less than 100 miles to reach your destination in your vehicle.  BUT, your eyes are closing and your reactions are sluggish but you 'just can't stop ... you have to make it.?'  The decision to get behind the wheel or stay on the road despite feeling drowsy can be deadly.  Fatigue-related fatal and injury crashes cost a staggering $109 billion a year, not including property damage.

A new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association, "Wake Up Call! Understanding Drowsy Driving and What States Can Do," points out that nearly 83.6 million sleep-deprived Americans are driving every day. And it's taking a toll - an estimated 5,000 lives were lost in drowsy driving-related crashes in 2015. 

Drowsy driving is not a new traffic safety problem. However, the recognition of drowsy driving as a significant public health and traffic safety issue has only recently been made a priority. In March 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the agency would take a comprehensive approach to preventing the tragedies attributed to driver drowsiness or fatigue.

Safety improvements


The NTSB added human-fatigue to its current list of most wanted transportation safety improvements just this year. In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services'Healthy People 2020 program, the nation's roadmap for better health, includes sleep as a priority initiative and calls for a reduction in drowsy driving crashes coupled with an increase in the proportion of high school students and adults who get sufficient sleep.

 

Clearly, the nation's lack of sleep and its impact on driving is a threat to all drivers on the road and contributes to the increasing number auto insurance claims. The challenge is educating and engaging the public in order to create behavior change.

Keep reading to learn more about the epidemic of getting behind the wheel while impaired by lack of sleep:

 

Tired driver

Crashes involving sleepy drivers often involve a driver traveling alone at night. (Photo: iStock)

Common characteristics of drowsy driving crashes

 

  • They occur late at night, in the early morning hours or in mid-afternoon.
  • They are likely to result in serious injury or death.
  • They involve a single vehicle leaving the roadway.
  • They occur on high-speed roadways.
  • They involve a driver traveling alone.
  • There is no evidence of braking.

Curving road

Drowsy drivers have impaired judgment and loss of visual awareness. (Photo: iStock)

Negative impact of lack of sleep 


Drowsy driving is impaired driving. The extreme danger posed by tired drivers has prompted NHTSA to expand its definition of impaired driving to include not only drunk, drugged and distracted, but also drowsy. 

Drowsy drivers have:

  • Slower reaction times.
  • Impaired judgment.
  • Increased levels of risk taking.
  • More frequent blinking/eye closure.
  • Deficits in cognitive performance.
  • Memory impairment.
  • Attention failure.
  • Loss of visual awareness.

 

bus crash

In this March 12, 2011 file photo, emergency personnel investigate the scene of a bus crash on Interstate 95 in the Bronx borough of New York. Prosecutors in New York alleged the driver, Ophadell Williams, was all but asleep at the wheel, but a jury decided there was not enough proof to convict him. Although police can prove that someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol while behind the wheel, proving a person to be too fatigued to drive is not as easy. (Photo: David Karp/AP Photo)

Who drives tired? 


No one is immune from drowsy driving, but teens and young adults are particularly vulnerable.

  • It is estimated that drivers 25 years of age and younger are involved in more than half of drowsy driving crashes annually.
  • People who work night shifts and/or long or irregular hours, including first responders (e.g., police, fire, EMS), doctors and nurses, and commercial motor vehicle operators, are at high risk for drowsy driving.
  • A study of nearly 5,000 North American police officers, found that sleepiness is a common problem with 46 percent reporting falling asleep while driving.
  • It is estimated that 10 percent to 20 percent of crashed involving at least one truck or bus may have involved tired drivers.
  • Many people who suffer from sleep disorders are undiagnosed and untreated, which means they may not recognize they are having problems with alertness or drowsiness when driving.

Powernap road sign

Laws that address impairment - including drowsy driving - must be enforceable. (Photo: iStock)

Drowsy driving laws 


Only two states - New Jersey and Arkansas - have enacted legislation that expressly addresses motorists who drive drowsy and subsequently injure or kill someone.

New Jersey's statute, known as Maggie's Law, took effect in 2003. It is named for a 20-year-old college student who was killed by a driver who had not slept in 30 hours and smoked crack cocaine. The crash led to two trials resulting in the driver receiving a $200 fine and a suspended jail sentence since driver fatigue could not be considered as a factor by either jury.

The statute deems driving "while knowingly fatigued as recklessness" and defines fatigued as "being without sleep for a period in excess of 24 consecutive hours."

Arkansas' law, like New Jersey's, defines fatigue in the same way, but also adds "or in the state of being asleep." In both states, law enforcement has had limited success convicting drowsy drivers under these statues.

While sleep advocates are encouraging other states to follow Arkansas and New Jersey's lead, the effectiveness of these laws is still up for debate. While the GHSA has not adopted an official position on states enacting drowsy driving laws, the association notes that any law that addresses impairment - including drowsy driving - must be enforceable. 

Rumble strips

Vehicles drive on a two-lane highway with rumble strips, a safety feature to alert drivers who are veering off the road. (Photo: iStock) 

Engineering improvements to make roadways and vehicles safer


Rumble strips: Raised or grooved patterns placed on the roadway surface that produce both a loud noise and a vibration when a vehicle's tires travel across them are a proven and cost-effective tool for reducing drowsy-driving crashes. When placed along the shoulder of the road, they alert drivers when they are drifting or about to run off the road. When placed along the centerlines, they make drivers aware that they have crossed into an opposing travel lane.

Installation of rumble strips is inexpensive compared to other infrastructure improvements (about $1,000-$1,500 per mile).

Evaluations indicate that they can reduce lane departure crashes by 50% or more, depending on the location.

Median cable barriers: Made of three or four steel cables strung on posts, when a vehicle hits this barrier, the posts break and the cables flex, absorbing much of the crash force. This redirects the vehicle along the median, preventing a cross-median crash.

They are much less expensive to install compared to concrete and metal beam barriers ($140,000-150,000 per mile versus $400,000-500,000 per mile).

Most states that have installed cable median barriers report a decrease in cross-median crash fatalities of 90 percent or more.

Rest areas. A rest area provides tired motorists a place to safely pull off the road and take a nap. Sleep is the most effective countermeasure for combating drowsy driving. Numerous studies point to the importance of rest areas for helping to make driving safer, however, they are typically located on interstates rather than rural roadways where there may be few or no places to safely pull off the road.

A number of websites such as Interstate Rest Areas and RoadNow and free or low-cost apps for both Apple and Android devices are available to assist motorists locate rest areas on roadways across the United States.

Vehicle technology. Automotive manufacturers and researchers have developed technologies that detect variations in driver performance and issue a drowsiness warning. These systems, which go by names such as Attention Assist, Driver Alert, Driver Attention Alert, Lane Departure Warning, and EyeSight, all essentially work the same. However, they are typically not sold as standard features, but available as upgrades to base models or on higher-end vehicles, thereby limiting their adoption.

There are other in-vehicle technologies that, while not specifically designed to prevent drowsy driving, can be helpful in preventing crashes resulting from sleepy drivers who fail to react or see a danger. For instance, adaptive cruise control senses where a vehicle in front of you is relative to your own vehicle, and slows down and speeds up your vehicle to maintain consistent spacing.Forward collision mitigation, meanwhile, detects how far and fast the vehicle in front of you may be moving and automatically applies the brakes if you do not respond.

Forward Collision Warning systems alert you when your vehicle is about to collide with another vehicle some distance ahead of yours. The warning varies by vehicle (e.g., flashing light, alarm, vibration), but unlike Forward Collision Mitigation, forward collision warnign systems do not automatically apply the brakes. Lane departure warning is perhaps the technology that has the most applicability to drowsy driving prevention. It works by looking at the road's lane markings and alerts the driver, via an alarm or vibration in the steering wheel or seat, when he or she unintentionally drives to close to the lane edge.

 

Rest area sign

Schedule frequent breaks on long trips; stop every two hours or 100 miles. (Photo: iStock)

Life-saving tips for avoiding drowsy driving:

 

  • Be well rested before hitting the road. Several nights of fewer than seven or eight hours of sleep slows your reaction time, resulting in a sleep debt. It may take several nights of being well rested to repay that debt and make you ready for a long road trip.
  • Avoid driving between midnight and 7 a.m. and in the mid-afternoon, times when we are naturally the least alert and most tired.
  • Don't drive alone. If possible, travel with a well-rested passenger who can engage you in conversation and share the driving.
  • Schedule frequent breaks on long trips; stop every two hours or 100 miles.
  • Don't drink alcohol. Just one beer when you are sleep deprived mimics the effect of two or three when you are well rested.
  • Don't rely on caffeine to keep you awake.

Sleeping

Make sure you're getting enough quality sleep. (Photo: iStock)

Tips for getting a good night's sleep

 

  • Establish and stick to a seven-day a week sleep schedule. Sleeping later on the weekends makes it harder to get out of bed on Monday.
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, but not two or three hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine late in the afternoon or evening; its effects can take up to eight hours to wear off.
  • Avoid nicotine. It's a stimulant that causes people to sleep lightly and wake early in the morning because of nicotine withdrawal.
  • Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed, which can rob you of sleep and impair breathing.
  • Avoid large meals and beverages late at night, which can cause indigestion and frequent urination, respectively.
  • If possible, avoid medications that delay or disrupt sleep. Talk to your doctor if any drug you are taking is keeping you up. Ask if you can take it at other times during the day or early evening.
  • Don't take naps after 3 p.m. They can make up for lost sleep, but late afternoon naps make it harder to fall asleep at night.
  • Relax before bed. Read, listen to music or engage in some other relaxing activity.
  • Take a hot bath before bed; it drops your body temperature and helps you feel sleepy and more relaxed.
  • Have a good sleeping environment, one that is cool, comfortable and technology-free. (When was the last time you changed your mattress and/or pillow?) If you have a clock by your bed, turn the face so you do not worry about the time while trying to fall asleep.
  • Have the right sunlight exposure. Get outside at least 30 minutes a day and turn down the lights before bedtime.
  • Don't lie in bed awake. If you are still awake after 30 minutes or starting to feel worried or anxious, get up and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.
  • Consult a doctor if you continue to have trouble sleeping. You may have a sleep disorder or another physical or mental health condition that may be impacting your sleep.

We're in the business to insure you and help you stay safe as you drive.  Thanks for reading this blog article and know, if we can help you with anything insurance, we're ready to earn your business!  Just contact any of our staff at 615.377.1212 or EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com.  We're always ready to earn your business!

[Portions of this article are a reprint from PropertyCasualty360.com - posted on their website on August 29, 2016 .. written by Jayleen R. Heft]

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Posted on 08/31/2016 11:07 AM by Benton P. White
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Tuesday, 23 August 2016
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Tennessee's insurance regulator approved hefty rate increases for the three carriers on the Obamacare exchange in an attempt to stabilize the already-limited number of insurers in the state.

The rate approvals, while a tough decision, were necessary to ensure that consumers around the state had options when open enrollment begins in November, said Julie Mix McPeak, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is the only insurer to sell statewide and there was the possibility that Cigna and Humana would reduce their footprints or leave the market altogether.

"I would characterize the exchange market in Tennessee as very near collapse ... and that all of our efforts are really focused on making sure we have as many writers in the areas as possible, knowing that might be one. I'm doing everything I can to prevent a situation where that turns to zero," McPeak said to The Tennessean.

Cigna and Humana both refiled their requests earlier this month after telling the TDCI that the first requests were likely too low.

McPeak said insurers asked for the opportunity to refile rates last year but she said no. This year, however, was different because many of areas of the state will only have one or two choices.

"I felt like I didn't have any choice but to allow them to refile their rates," said McPeak, who is concerned about the limited number of insurers..

Cigna asked for and received an average 46.3 percent increase.

Humana asked for and received an average 44.3 percent increase.

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, which did not refile its request, asked for and received a 62 percent increase.

The increases underscore the complex environment of the exchange. People who buy plans on the exchange are heavier users of services than anticipated. In addition, there are changes to federal transitional programs in 2017 that will impact insurers financially.

We're keeping an eye on it here at the agency and are fielding calls trying to help our folks navigate through these challenging times in healthcare.  If we can help you, please let us know.  EMAIL our staff at info@BentonWhite.com or call us at 615.377.1212.  We're always ready to help you and earn your business!

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Posted on 08/23/2016 9:18 AM by Benton White
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Wednesday, 17 August 2016
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Summer is considered over in our area because school is back in session across Middle Tennessee.  Of course, that means increased traffic on the roads.

With college students packing up their cars to go back to campus, and parents dropping off and picking up kids from school, the increase in traffic congestion and distracted driving can create dangerous road conditions and contribute to increases in the frequency of auto accidents.

 

Young drivers are prone to distracted driving, especially with the increase of handheld technology. This is part of the reason why U.S. traffic deaths increased nearly 8 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to data recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

That's why the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) has released a list of back-to-school driving safety tips for parents and young drivers, alike. There are distractions all around in the car, and PCI is encouraging drivers to put down their phones and stay focused on the road.

1. Wear seat belts

Whether taking a summer get-away or just running errands around town, PCI encourages drivers to buckle up, drive safely and try to be prepared for those who may not. Seat belts save lives and help prevent injuries. Also, make sure kids are in the proper car or booster seats.

 

2. Plan and allow for extra travel time
 

With more people on the roads, often driving in unfamiliar territory, the potential for a traffic crash increases. PCI encourages motorists to plan routes in advance when traveling to new destinations, be patient, and allow for extra travel time.

3. Observe speed limits, including lower speeds in work zones
 

Stay focused on the road and aware of changing traffic patterns caused by construction.  Please be cautious of the construction workers themselves, who are often in close proximity to the highway - and at great risk.

4. Avoid distracted driving
 

When the entire family is traveling in the car, the opportunity for distraction is multiplied. Remember to put the phone down, and never text while driving.  Be careful when eating on the run, as lunch can be just as distracting as a cellphone. Buckle up or secure pets in the back of the car.

5. Have a plan for roadside assistance
 

If an accident occurs, be wary of unscrupulous towing companies. Have the phone number for the insurer or a roadside assistance program ready.  Some towing companies take advantage of drivers after an accident and drivers could find themselves facing excessive fees or complications recovering their car from the tow yard.

6. Update proof of insurance
 

Before hitting the road, make sure to replace any expired insurance identification cards in the event the driver needs to prove they have insurance during a traffic stop.

Hopefully these tips will help you be prepared and more aware of the increased traffic we all face now that school is back in session in Middle Tennessee.  If we can help you with your insurance, we're ready to earn your business.  Simply contact any of our staff at 615.377.1212 or email us at info@BentonWhite.com.  Thanks for reading our blog and be safe out there!

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Posted on 08/17/2016 2:18 PM by Benton White
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Thursday, 11 August 2016
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Throughout my career, many have asked why I don't represent just one company like State Farm, Farmers, GEICO and others.  "Why are you independent?"  It's always an easy answer consisting of many reasons.  The best way to show it is in this new video!  Enjoy!

 
We give you choices!  We're a part of the independent agency system and a proud member of the Trust Choices network.  Don't settle for just ONE company that can only quote you ONE premium.  We'll shop for you and give you what you need - not only with the right coverage's but also with the most competitive premiums.  Contact our staff at 615.377.1212 or email us at info@BentonWhite.com.  We're always ready to earn your business!
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Posted on 08/11/2016 10:27 AM by Benton White
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Wednesday, 03 August 2016
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Many things can affect your auto insurance premiums, for example, how many miles you drive per day and per year, whether you've been in any accidents that were your fault and where you live.

One factor you may not be aware of is the number of moving violations you've received when driving a particular vehicle. (Parking tickets generally don't count.)

When assessing risk, insurance carriers look at a person's driving habits and presume that someone with several tickets for speeding is more likely to get into an accident than someone with no moving violations. In addition, the amount of the claim for an auto in a high-speed accident is going to be higher, with more property damage and possibly bodily injuries as well.

Red cars and speeding tickets


Drivers have thought that the color of the car was a major influence on whether they received speeding tickets. A long-held belief is that red cars are ticketed more often than any other color. But most law enforcement agencies deny that a car's color has anything to do with whether it will be cited for speeding more often.

According to a recent study from Insurance.com, speeders tend to prefer the same model cars. Drivers and car owners can use Insurance.com's "Ticket Magnet" tool to analyze how many tickets their car make or model receives based on more than 323,000 insurance quotes for drivers who use the site.

The analysts at Your Mechanic examined the data more closely to determine whether the type of car makes a difference in the amount of tickets it received. When they segmented the models into luxury cars, mid-size, compact, sports cars, pickup trucks, SUVs and subcompact cars, they found some interesting data on what types of drivers are typically getting the most tickets.

Common traffic violations


As Maddy Martin at Your Mechanic points out, traffic violations can differ from state to state, but some of the most common ones are running a red light, driving at night without headlights, illegal turns, illegal parking,or running a stop sign. Speeding laws also fluctuate based on the state and road.

Here are the 10 most ticketed cars by model and percent of vehicle owners, based on the data analysis from Your Mechanic. Note that there are no dates or date ranges provided with the results. They only reflect information from a driver who provides information to the Ticket Magnet tool.

10. Toyota Tacoma - 30.1% of vehicle owners

9. Acura - 30.1%

8. Dodge Stratus SXT - 30.2%

7. Volkswagen GTI - 39.3%

6. Mazda 3S - 30.3%

5. Chevrolet Monte Carlo LS/LT - 30.8%

4. Volkswagen Jetta GL - 31.4%

3. Dodge Charge - 32.1%

2. Nissan 350Z - 32.5%

1. Lexus ES 300 - 33.4%

We get all types of comments from rumors about what is the best car to insure that is safest or less noticable to police officers.  None of the myths are really true.  Speed or wreckless driving produces tickets on the road.  Not much else competes with that.

Please let us know if we can help you with your insurance.  EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or contact any of our staff at 615.377.1212.  We're always here and ready to earn your business!
[Portions of this article taken from PropertyCasualty360.com - written by Rosalie L. Donlon]

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Posted on 08/03/2016 4:06 PM by Benton White
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Wednesday, 20 July 2016
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It takes 2 extra minutes ... pull out your phone or camera and take 4 angles of your rental vehicle before you drive it off the lot.  Then, do the same thing again when you check the car in. That gives you a TIME-STAMPED visual record of the condition of your rental car before and after you drive it.  Here is why this is important!
 
We have had two of our customers have claims on their auto insurance in the last couple of weeks because of damage to a vehicle they rented.  One of the customers didn't even have the privilege of filing it himself - the rental car company filed it quickly direct to our insured's company!!!!  I personally have had a claim issue with a rental car company several years back.  I turned the vehicle in one early morning before catching a flight.  The rental company wasn't opened yet.  So I did as they instructed, I left the vehicle in a certain place that was supposedly secure.  About 4 weeks later, I get a notice that I was being charged for damage on that vehicle that never occurred under my watch.  The car was spotless!  So in the end, it was my word ("I didn't damage that vehicle!" against theirs ..."This car had damage on it when you turned it in!")  I had to file the claim with my credit card insurance coverage that covered the physical damage on that vehicle as a benefit of my card.  I was glad they could take care of it and keep me from having to pay out of pocket.  I later learned, much to my own disappointment, the credit card insurance paid some or all of that claim.  Unfair in my book!
 
Christopher Elliott is a travel editor with USA Today.  He basically lives on the road and gives great advice about travel issues.  Earlier this month, he wrote a thorough article about car rentals.  Here is what he wrote and I so agree with him:
 
"Eric Eatman didn't do it. He's sure of that.
 
When he rented a car in Atlantic City recently, he noticed several scrapes on the side of his vehicle, which he brought to the attention of an employee.
 
"The agent assured me that as long as the scratches were smaller than a dollar bill it didn't matter," says Eatman, a notary public from Brandon, Fla.
 
But after he returned the car to Enterprise, a representative claimed he damaged the vehicle, and the company eventually sent him a $3,096 bill, including a $289 bill for "loss of use."
 
"I was certain that I did not cause the damage," he says.
 
Taking responsibility is never easy. But when they're away, travelers often think they can get away with anything. Travel companies, particularly car rental companies, are understandably suspicious of their customers who balk at paying their bills. Maybe it's time for a little detente.
 
How badly is the relationship frayed? Let's put it this way: If something breaks in your rental car, you're guilty until proven innocent. But with good reason. Too often, motorists invoke the "wear and tear" excuse when they've trashed a rental. Owning up to our actions may be the first step toward bridging this chasm of distrust.
 
When James Pillow returned his car to Alamo recently, he watched another renter back his car into a concrete pole. "Nobody else saw it happen," says Pillow, who works for a sports memorabilia site in Orlando. He could see the driver hesitating - should he say something or pretend it never happened? After a moment, the customer walked over to an attendant and confessed.
 
"It was very noble," he says. "Especially given the damage."
 
It helps to take responsibility when things go wrong. When Vicki Winters, a social media manager who lives in New York, visited Spain this summer, she found a parking ticket on her rental. Initially, she and her husband decided not to tell their car rental company, and they might have gotten away with it. Tracking down a customer who lives more than 3,000 miles away - never mind matching a ticket to the right driver - is a challenge for even the best car rental company.
 
"We waffled some more," she says. "Then we decided to come clean and show them the ticket."
 
To her surprise, an employee told her she was off the hook.
 
"Honesty was the best policy," says Winters.
 
But it's equally important to take a stand when you didn't do it. I reviewed the correspondence between Eatman and Enterprise and saw a string of vehement denials by Eatman. What's more, Enterprise couldn't prove the dent had happened on his watch. From all appearances, he'd tried to warn the company about the pre-existing damage, and an employee had dismissed him.
 
I contacted Enterprise on his behalf and it agreed to review his claim.
 
"Sometimes, as you know, we may miss something, but we never hesitate to make things right for our customers," Enterprise spokeswoman Laura Bryant said. "As a result, this claim has been dropped. Thank you for bringing this to our attention."
 
Responsibility is a two-way street. On the one side, you have car rental companies that usually assume you're responsible for damage if you're the last person who rented the car. That's not always fair. On the other side, you have motorists who might walk away from real damage and traffic tickets, actions that don't exactly help the fragile relationship between drivers and car rental companies.
 
Is there a way to meet in the middle - for car rental companies to stop assuming we're guilty of destroying their vehicles and for us to own up to our violations? Changing corporate policy may not be practical, but the next time you pick up the keys to your rental car, you can make a promise to yourself: I'll treat this like it's my own car."
 
How to avoid a frivolous car rental damage claim
  • Take pictures or video of your vehicle - before and after. The images should be enough to exonerate you if there's a bogus damage claim.
  • Report any pre-existing damage, no matter how small. Don't let an employee reassure you with promises that smaller scratches don't count. They do count. If the car is dented and scratched, you should refuse it.
  • Get insurance. Being covered means you won't have to face a $3,096 bill. Check with your credit card company and car insurance companies before you spring for the optional insurance, which can be overpriced.
Hopefully, this information will help you as we move into the vacation season when many rent cars these days.  As you can see, I'm a big believer of rental car picture taking.  It's hard to question a time-stamped photo of a vehicle if you are ever accused of damaging a rental vehicle. 
 
If we can help you with anything insurance, we're here and ready.  Contact us at info@BentonWhite.com or call 615.377.1212.  Any of our staff is ready to assist!  Thanks for reading and be ready to pull out that camera the next time you rent a car!
 
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Posted on 07/20/2016 10:56 AM by Benton White
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Wednesday, 13 July 2016
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An personal umbrella insurance policy is a liability policy that covers you and your family members over and above your primary insurance policies, including the policies you hold for your automobiles, home, rental properties, and even boats or campers.
 
Many of my clients believe that only millionaires need this coverage. Unfortunately, this is a gross misconception. Many people can benefit from umbrella policies.
 
If you are sued and then found liable, and if you do not have enough liability on your primary policies to cover the judgment against you, any assets or property that you own will be put towards the settlement-unless you have an umbrella policy.
 
Frequently, when I give this simple explanation, I am told, "I do not own anything nor do I have any money in the bank for anyone to take."
 
Here are the questions I then ask:
  • Do you have a job?
  • Do you have a retirement account?
  • Do you own a car?
  • Do you own a home, condo or rental property?
  • Does your spouse have any assets or property?
  • Does your spouse have a job?
At least one of these questions likely has a yes answer.
 
This means a lien can be put on your salary, disability benefits, 401(k), or any future salary you may earn, or you may be forced to sell any or all of your property or your spouse's property to pay for the judgment against you.
 
Additionally, many people forget about legal fees. Sometimes the attorney and investigation fees are more than the final judgment awarded. These fees can exhaust the primary liability limits on your policy very quickly.
 
The above facts gives very good examples of reasons why we should discuss purchasing an umbrella policy.  Here are some example that could make it even more clear:
 
A neighborhood child runs over to your dog sleeping in your yard, startles it, and causes it to bite and seriously injure the nerves in the young child's hand. The suit is over $5,000,000 because not only did the parents and the child have to endure trauma, but also the child was a very talented pianist with the potential of becoming a star until the accident. You will have to pay for the estimated loss of income, as well as emotional injury, even though the child startled your dog.
 
Your son is away at college with one of the family cars, and he lends the car to one of his friends. The friend gets into a four-car accident; two of cars involved had no insurance and five people are seriously injured, including the friend who had borrowed the car. Did you know that if your child gives permission for someone else to drive your car, it's the same thing as you giving permission, and therefore you are liable for that driver's actions as owner of the vehicle? While the driver of your car was not fully at fault, the injuries from the accident cause the lawsuit to come in at $10,000,000. If nothing else, you will need legal defense. These suits can take years to settle, and the defense costs add up very quickly.
 
Someone walks up the stairs to your home only to find out that she has the wrong house. However, when leaving, she trips and falls down your stairs, seriously injuring herself in such a way that she could no longer work. Yes, your homeowners policy will defend and pay the lawsuit against you; however, if that limit is exhausted and there is no umbrella, you will be liable for the rest.
 
Bear in mind that not every umbrella policy is the same. Does your umbrella policy cover legal fees inside the limit on the policy or outside? Do you sit on a board of directors? Do you own a personal watercraft or ATV? Unless you have underlying coverage, your answers to these questions may mean that your umbrella policy excludes coverage.
 
Call us today at Benton White Insurance.  We're writing more and more personal liability umbrellas these days and the pricing is some of the least expensive we offer.  Our average umbrella quote is approximately $200 per year for $1 Million of coverage.  We can offer more information on this very important coverage so you can protect the assets and property you have worked so hard to earn and grow.  Call any of our staff at 615.377.1212 or EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com We're ready to earn your business and protect yours!
 

 

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Posted on 07/13/2016 11:56 AM by Benton White
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Friday, 08 July 2016
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It's no secret: Adding a teenage driver to an auto policy can be risky.

Teen drivers are often inexperienced, nervous and wreckless. In fact, according to the Arlington, Virginia-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the fatal crash rate per mile driven for drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 is almost three times higher than all other age groups.

Not surprisingly, adding a teen driver often causes a dramatic spike in annual auto policy premiums â€• so much so that they can even double in some areas. According to some sources, on average U.S. families who add a young driver to their auto insurance policy will see an annual premium increase of 79%.

For the fourth year in a row, Quadrant Information Services conducted a survey to examine the economic effect of adding a driver between the ages of 16 and 19 to a family's car insurance policy. According to the study, this year's average premium increase is down from last year's average of 80%, and is even lower than 2013, when the average increase was as high as 84%.

These gradual decreases speak to a larger trend in teen driver safety and fewer teens being behind the wheel. According to a study from the University of Michigan, 69% of 17-year-old Americans had a license 30 years ago. Today it's 45%.

It was not surprising for us to see that TENNESSEE is one of the Top 10 most expensive states where adding a teen driver to an auto policy is the most costly.  This is the first year Tennessee has made the survey and dropped into the #10 spot.  According to this survey, a parent adding a teen to their auto policy could face a 92.21% average auto insurance premium increase.  The number 1 state in the survey? New Hampshire with 125.39% average premium increase.

Here at Benton White Insurance, we're not seeing quite that much of an increase with our companies.  I usually suggest that you could see a 50 to 75% increase if you add a son to the policy and about 40% increase if you add a daughter.  Nevertheless, parents of future teen drivers need to be aware that it definitely will upset your budget when you add teens to your auto policy.  

Let us help you manage all of this.  If there is something else we can help you with, we're an email away at info@BentonWhite.com or make that easy call to any of our staff at 615.377.1212.  Thanks for reading!  

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Posted on 07/08/2016 10:08 AM by Benton White
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Wednesday, 06 July 2016
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This article from The New York Times caught my eye last week because it's a subject none of us think about much.  There is a an enormous amount of Identity Theft going on these days.  When we hear or read about it, we automatically think - adults!  But on the increase, theft of social security numbers for children is on the rise and that is causing some pretty serious problems for children and their parents.
 
Here is the article written by Ron Lieber from the Your Money section of The New York Times - April 17, 2015.
 
The note that arrived in the mail, dated March 25 and addressed to my grade-school-age daughter, said what we had expected and feared: Like tens of millions of other Americans, including untold numbers of children, she may have fallen victim to thieves who gained access to Social Security numbers and other personal data from the health insurance giant Anthem.
 
In three single-spaced pages, it noted that anyone who had dealt with the company and many Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance plans over the last decade could be vulnerable. The letter pointed us to the Anthem website for more information, which it described as "our source of truth."
 
Here's what the note did not fully address, however: What are the odds that someone will steal a child's identity? Why would a thief do that, and what exactly can parents do to keep it from happening?
 
I know better than to overreact to this sort of thing. Thieves have to get the data, choose to use it (instead of chickening out), pick yours to use in nefarious ways and then do so successfully before any damage to a child's credit record can occur. Still, a 2011 joint industry-academic examination of 40,000 children caught up in a data breach found that someone else appeared to be using 10.2 percent of their Social Security numbers. Most of those instances happened before the breach in question.
 
So crime like this does happen, and here's why: Children's credit reports are clean. That's attractive to people who want to begin their financial lives anew for any number of reasons. Plus, minors don't check their credit reports or review monthly bills the way grown-ups do, which means thieves may not get caught for years or even decades.
 
One way that people can protect themselves from many kinds of identity theft is to put a freeze on their credit reports with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, the three agencies that make a lot of money tracking our financial histories and selling that information to companies we want to do business with.
 
A credit freeze is more stringent than the more popular fraud alerts that many consumers have used in the past. Putting your reports on ice means that any new creditor trying to open an account in your name won't have access to your credit report unless you go into the system and thaw it. Without seeing your credit report, companies that you are not already patronizing generally won't open a new account in your name, so the freeze usually has the effect of thwarting thieves.
 
The problem with the freeze, however, is that you need to have a credit report in the first place before you can put it in cold storage. Because most children don't, it's usually been nearly impossible to freeze a child's credit file.
 
In the last few years, though, that's been changing. According to Heather Morton, a program principal with the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states now require the credit agencies to help parents and guardians create a new credit report for a minor child for the express purpose of immediately freezing it. (Tennessee isn't in the group!)
 
Last month, Representative Jim Langevin, Democrat of Rhode Island, introduced legislation that would force the credit bureaus to let all of us do this. Equifax claims that it already lets any parent set up a freeze for a child in the other 31 states. Experian and TransUnion do not, though TransUnion, on its website, has a form that parents can complete so the company can check to see if there are any existing credit files under a child's Social Security number.
 
The bureaus aren't big fans of freezes, because they're an administrative annoyance and they throw a giant roadblock in their business of peddling our information. Equifax, on its website, introduces freezes as something a consumer does after being victimized, as if we'd all want to wait until the burglar has left the premises to hire a security guard. TransUnion deserves credit for at least mentioning that children may be able to get one. All of them, however, worry about creating vulnerabilities where there were none by creating a credit file that did not previously exist.
 
Still, if you try to set one up for your child, you're in for a battle. The agencies want reams of information, including copies of your child's birth certificate and Social Security number plus certain bills that prove where you live. Equifax and TransUnion ask you to put all of this private information in an envelope and drop it into a mailbox. Even worse, two Equifax customer service representatives I spoke to this week insisted that I should put "minor child" at the top of the address. It might as well say, "Steal this envelope!"
 
I'm doing it anyway (though without saying, "Steal Me"), if only to annoy the agencies that so clearly do not want me to do this.
 
Freezes won't stop every kind of theft, alas. Thieves sometimes use children's Social Security numbers and other data to file fake tax returns and get illegitimate refunds, gain access to health care and work legally even if they are not citizens. In each of those instances, there may never be a credit check that reveals the freeze.
 
So what are the ways to keep private data private that are within our control? Don't carry around Social Security cards. Keep them under lock and key at home. Keep your child's date of birth off social media. Talk to your offspring about where to click and not to click on websites and in incoming email. Question school officials and doctors who want children's Social Security numbers for forms, as it may not truly be necessary.

Robert P. Chappell Jr., author of "Child Identity Theft: What Every Parent Needs To Know," sometimes jots down names, insurance information and other bits and pieces as he listens in those places and then approaches people afterward to gently correct their data hygiene. So far, nobody has punched him in the nose. "Most of them are very nice and have no idea about the harm that can come from it," said Mr. Chappell, who works in law enforcement by day. "Usually, I'm in civilian clothes."
 
One problem with the various legislative efforts to fix the problem is that they won't do much about the many situations where it's the children's own parents who commit the identity fraud. Mothers and fathers may do this out of desperation, having already wrecked their own credit or experienced some acute financial calamity. Foster children are frequent identity theft victims, too. Whatever the reason for the crime, these parents aren't about to freeze their children's files.
 
So what could stop them? One possibility exists only in theory, and it's called the 17-10 registry. The idea here is that when children are born, their Social Security numbers automatically go into a "do not break the glass until two months before age 18" database. Parents could be prohibited from opting out of the database for their children, and credit reporting agencies (and employers and the Internal Revenue Service) would hopefully crosscheck it before letting anyone use any Social Security number. TransUnion is experimenting with its own database that families in Utah can put their children in.
 
My daughter seems unscathed so far, and we are signing up for the free monitoring service that Anthem is making available for two years. But Adam Levin, the founder or co-founder of two credit- and identity-related businesses and the author of a book scheduled for release in November called "Swiped: What Identity Thieves Do and How to Stop Them," questioned why the free service ought to halt then, even if Anthem is paying for a longer period than other breached organizations have in the past.
 
"Social Security numbers are like money in the bank, and thieves don't need to use them at any specific moment in history," he said. "You're going to have to look over your shoulder for the rest of your life."
 
Then again, you're probably already doing that. The companies we pay and the governmental agencies that keep track of us have proved with startling consistency that they are not up to the task of keeping our data safe. Then, they compound that by dragging their feet when tools emerge that allow us to flip a switch and try to contain the damage.
 
Until that changes, you're more or less on your own. But you already knew that, right?
 
Identity Theft is real!  We offer insurance coverage for expenses you might incur if you are invaded with ID theft.  Call us at 615.377.1212 or EMAIL at your convenience to info@BentonWhite.com. We can't stop your identity from being stolen but we can help ease the costs if you have that unfortunate bad experience.
 
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Posted on 07/06/2016 10:30 AM by Benton White
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Wednesday, 29 June 2016
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Based on what I keep seeing either with insurance claims or from observation as I drive around the Middle Tennessee area, the pattern seems to continue. When you take ONE SECOND to glance at or do something with your mobile device while you are behind the wheel, you, those who are with you and those around you are at risk - GREAT RISK!

The following video was released a couple of weeks ago and it's getting attention as being an example of a very common place story with common everyday people doing common everyday things. But ONE SECOND changed it all!

Thanks for viewing and passing this along to others! Here's a blog link you could share or email with your friends. Many people still aren't seeing the need to put the phone down when they are driving. So let's help others to remember!


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Posted on 06/29/2016 2:57 PM by Benton White
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Friday, 17 June 2016
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An unexpected car accident can leave you feeling a bit scattered and often times scared.  That's why it's important to brush up on post-accident procedures now, when you're in good shape and levelheaded. Let us offer you this 7-step guide that can help make the moments after an accident less stressful - and the claims process a whole lot smoother.
 
1. Move to a safe area.
If it's safe to do so and you aren't seriously injured, move your car out of further harm's way, like to the shoulder of the road. If moving your car just isn't possible, flip on your hazards to warn other drivers that your vehicle isn't going anywhere any time soon.
 
2. Stop your vehicle and get out
Make sure your car is no longer moving, turn off the engine, shift into park, or set the handbrake if you drive a manual. Take a moment to catch your breath. Check to make sure it's safe to get out of your car before opening the door. If you have flares or similar road safety items, consider using them.
 
3. Check on others involved
Check on all the other parties involved, including drivers, passengers, and pedestrians, to make sure no one is hurt. Call 911 if anyone may be injured. Even a seemingly minor symptom like dizziness should be checked out by a health care professional.
 
4. Call the police to the scene
Even in minor accidents, a police accident report can prove invaluable when dealing with one of our companies or any other company you might need to deal with in settling this accident and other drivers. Cooperate fully, but avoid admitting fault or blaming others while at the scene. Let the police objectively judge events and determine who, if anyone, was at fault for the crash.If the police can't make it to the scene (which is more likely if there are no injuries), you can file an accident report through the Tennessee Department of Safety.
 
5. Gather info
Try to write down as much info as possible in the accident aftermath, including:
  • Driver and passenger names
  • License plate numbers
  • Insurance info
  • Makes and models of all vehicles involved
  • Contact info for any eyewitnesses
  • Location of the accident
  • The name and badge number of any responding police officers
6. Document the scene
Pictures, pictures, pictures!  Pull out that smartphone and snap some photos of the accident scene from ALL angles. They'll come in handy during the claim process.  
 
At Benton White Insurance, you can file a claim from our website at http://bit.ly/BWIClaims.  Some of our companies have mobile apps where you can file the claim from their mobile app and take pictures within the app to send.  
 
7. File your insurance claim
We make it easy for you to get to us when you need to file a claim.  You can use our online process mentioned above or call us at 615.377.1212 and we'll be ready to help make it easy for you.  If you happen to need claim help after hours, all of our companies offer 24/7 claim filing service.  That directory can be found here: http://bit.ly/CoClaimDir.  If you don't remember who your insurance carrier is or forgot how to reach us, look on your auto ID card... the information is there!  
 
Once you complete the 7 steps, it's on us to take care of you and we work really hard to do so.  You'll be assigned an adjuster that will walk with you every step of the way to give you the fast and accurate service you deserve.  If they don't, we'll see to it that they do!
 
Here are some things you should consider doing before an accident.
 
If you haven't been in a car accident, after patting yourself on the back (while the car's stopped, of course), use these handy tips to make sure you're ready for the unpredictable:
  1. Pack a safety kit
  2. Keep important documents at the ready (ID, Auto Insurance Card ID, additional insurance company contact information, vehicle registration, health plan info, etc.)
  3. Have your phone on you and charged whenever you hit the road
  4. Keep loose items in the center console or glove box, and not on the seats, where they can get lost or fly around in an accident

No matter how clean your driving record, you never know when an accident can happen. You'll be glad you kept these 4 elements in mind if (and we do mean "if") you find yourself handling the aftermath of a crash.

If you have a question or we can help you in anyway, simply email us at info@BentonWhite.com or call our team at 615.377.1212


 

 
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Posted on 06/17/2016 11:40 AM by Benton White
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Tuesday, 14 June 2016
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We're proud to represent a LEADER in travel insurance - IMG (International Medical Group).  They have been in the business for many years and have saved countless thousands from the pain of medical costs when they weren't in familiar home territory and needed care.  I have a special section on our website dedicated to the variety of plans they offer (Click Hereand the pricing has been phenomenally lower than you would imagine.  My wife and I have purchased this coverage when we travel - especially on trips abroad.  
 
Here's a story that illustrates the need for travel medical insurance in real life circumstances.  While skiing in South America, Mark, an IMG® member, found himself on the brink of paralysis. After skiing over a rock buried in the powdery snow, he cracked open his skull and fractured a vertebra in his spine. Mark not only required emergency medical attention, he and his wife needed an insurance company who would be there in a time of crisis.  Watch the dramatic video of Mark's harrowing story to see how IMG can assist our customers just like Mark on their mission every day.


IMG's mission is to protect and enhance the health and well-being of their members. IMG is our primary travel insurance carrier here at Benton White Insurance for travel medical coverage because they are leaders in the space.  Both our customers and this agency are assured to be safely protected during travel!
 
We always like to say, "if it can be insured, we insure it and we service it too!"  IMG gives us another dimension of coverage that our customers have come to expect from this agency for over 37 years.  If we can answer questions or assist in any other way with insurance, we're ready!  EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or contact any of our staff at 615.377.1212.  We offer ALL TYPES of insurance as we continue to work diligently to EARN your business!
 

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Posted on 06/14/2016 8:10 AM by Benton White
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Friday, 10 June 2016
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Teen Driving Safety

Vehicle crashes leading cause of teen death

Jessica Bliss of The Tennessean reports that parents take a great leap of faith before giving their kids the car keys. Crashes due to reckless and distracted driving are the leading cause of death for American teens.
 
Summer is the time of highest risk.
 
Students average 44 percent more hours behind the wheel each week during the summer than during the school year, according to research by SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions).
 
The 99 days from Memorial Day to Labor Day are the deadliest time for drivers age 15 to 20 with July 4 topping the list.
 
As you can see (and read further for more details of the article here), the risk is MUCH GREATER for teens - especially less experienced teen drivers during the summer months!  We see this claim increase from our own customers with their teens in the household.  So let this be a conversation starter for you and your family as we go through these dangerous 99 days.  It only takes one accident to change a life completely or end it.  We urge you and your family to be safe during this wonderful summer season ahead of us.  
 
If we can help you with anything insurance, we are ready!  Just EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or Call us:  615.377.1212.
 
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Posted on 06/10/2016 9:49 AM by Benton White
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Thursday, 26 May 2016
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Summer is around the corner and great cycling weather is already here!  For me, that's meant - ride my cycle every chance I get.
 
Have you ever wondered what happens when a bicycle is stolen or damaged while on your car's bike rack? Do you know if your insurance will cover possessions that are inside (or outside) of your car?
 
In many cases, a bicycle or bike rack will be covered, but there are circumstances in which your coverage may vary. Here are five common scenarios and the most important steps to take in each one:
  • Your bike is damaged while it is secured to your vehicle
    • In most states, a claim can be filed under the personal property provision of your Homeowners' or Renters' insurance policy. If the policy includes a provision for replacement cost value coverage, the insurer will pay the replacement cost of the bicycle, less any deductible. However, if the policy provides for actual cash value coverage, the insurer will only pay the current depreciated value of the bicycle.
  • A different vehicle damages your bike while it is secured to your vehicle: 
    • If the liability of the other motorist is clear, then his or her insurer will pay the full actual cash value of the bicycle. If the motorist is uninsured, that same 100% actual cash value payment will be paid by the insurer of the owner of the vehicle to which the bike is attached. However, this payment occurs only if the owner has uninsured motorist coverage.
  • A hit-and-run motorist damages your bike while it is attached to your vehicle: 
    • This claim would be paid under the owner's Homeowners' or Renters' policy. The replacement cost value would be paid, less the deductible.
  • Another person's bike is damaged while it is secured to your vehicle: 
    • In this scenario, the liability portion of your Auto insurance will pay the actual cash value to the owner of the bike.
  • A bike attached to your vehicle is stolen: 
    • As long as an incident report is filed with the police, your Renters' or Homeowners' policy will pay the replacement cost value, less the deductible.
It is important to realize that the typical deductible in a Homeowners' or Renters' policy is commonly $250 or $500. In many instances where a claim is made under the provisions of such a policy, a relatively significant portion of the bike's value will not be covered.
 
A "personal articles floater" can be purchased that specifically covers the full cost of repairs or the full replacement cost value if the bicycle is not repairable. If you have a very valuable bike, perhaps for racing, it can also be insured via its own policy.
 
So while you're giving your bike a tune-up, be sure to also check and see if your current insurance policy covers bicycle theft and other damages.
 
Let us help you insure your bike or any other sports equipment you may have.  Personal Article Floaters get very specific with enhanced coverage's for a very affordable price.  Plus, you have the opportunity of insuring that article for a proper amount of insurance which would be your basis for settlement if you did have the unfortunate claim.  Contact us at info@BentonWhite.com or call our staff at 615.377.1212.  We'll do our best to insure your bike before you take it out this summer so you won't have to worry about it!
 
[Portions of the blog content was written by Torr Leonard - social media manager of the Encino, Calif.-based insurance agency - Answer Financial published in PropertyCasualty360 - 5/18/2016]
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Posted on 05/26/2016 1:07 PM by Benton White
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Tuesday, 24 May 2016
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I had never heard of Wathan Funeral Home until today!  But why would I have?  There are funeral homes around the world but this one has made headlines.  For their marketing strategy, they used this video/billboard to draw attention to their services.
 
 
They are getting their point across around the world with that video.  But here's the real truth:  Wathan Funeral Home doesn't exist.  This was all a planned marketing scheme in Ontario, Canada to change the increasing hazardous pattern of drivers to pay attention while driving on the road.  You can see their details of the promotion here: www.WathanFuneralHome.com.
 
This promotion hasn't been seen without controversy.  Many thought it was unfair to mislead that way.  Many thought it was extremely clever and appropriate to release!  How do you feel?
 
We're big proponents in putting your phone away when you drive and certainly don't text and drive!  If you need insurance, please let us know how we can help you at Benton White Insurance.  EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or call us at 615.377.1212.  Any of our staff is ready to earn your insurance business!  
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Posted on 05/24/2016 2:13 PM by Benton White
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Thursday, 19 May 2016
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The latest statistics show that 62% of homes have pets in them.  That percentage is increasing year after year!  It's no surprise, there is a dynamic pet insurance market rising up to help pet owners cope with the expenses of their pet if their pet needs medical care.  Pet Insurance is here and it's here to stay - and WE OFFER IT! 
 
To many families, a pet can bring love, companionship, and security to a home.  With this relationship comes a responsibility on behalf of the owner to provide for their pet's proper veterinary care; whether it's a routine checkup or an emergency.  Purchasing a pet insurance policy can oftentimes help ease that financial burden.
 
There are basically two types of insurance that all pet owners should seriously consider: health insurance, and liability insurance.  Liability insurance is often included as part of a homeowners insurance policy.  Pet health care insurance specializes in the medical care / veterinarian segment of the insurance industry.
 
Regardless of whether a pet was purchased from an expert breeder or adopted from a local center, all animals should see a veterinarian for an initial examination.  These initial visits can run anywhere from $70 to $300 depending on geographic location, and the extent of the medical services provided.  Many pets will also require regularly scheduled follow up visits to a veterinarian as part of a well-care program that includes vaccinations, immunizations, as well as routine medical examinations.  The point here is the cost of providing routine pet health care can be a significant expense.  If we add to this the unplanned costs that can occur from accidents and illnesses, then it's even clearer why there is a steady and growing demand for health insurance that covers pets.
 

Pet Health Care Coverage

To protect themselves from the high cost of medical care, many owners are turning to pet health insurance plans or pet health care coverage.  These insurance plans cover both the costs of routine health care examinations as well as the cost for medical care administered due to illness.
 
Typical health care coverage contained in this type of insurance policy includes:
  • Routine and emergency veterinarian office visits
  • Pet hospitalization
  • Prescription medications
  • Diagnostic medical tests
  • X-ray examinations
  • Surgeries
  • Heartworm protection
  • Spaying and neutering
  • Laboratory fees
  • Vaccines and immunizations
Many are surprised to learn that monthly premiums are very reasonable. Costs will vary according to the plan selected, but typical health insurance premiums for a dog will be around $25 per month, while health care insurance premiums for cats are in the range of $18 per month.  Keep in mind these premium quotes are for what's assumed to be a relatively young and healthy dog or cat.  It may be expensive or impractical to obtain health care insurance for animals with pre-existing health conditions.
 

Pet Liability Insurance

The second type of pet insurance has to do with liability protection.  Every pet owner, especially dog owners, needs to carefully consider purchasing liability insurance for several very good reasons.  The first and foremost reason for considering this type of insurance has to do with the simple fact that dogs do bite.  Each year, nearly five million people in the U.S. alone are bitten by dogs.  The liability payments associated with these accidents approaches one billion dollars annually.  The second reason for carrying this type of pet insurance is because it helps to protect those that are around the pet most frequently.  That means protecting friends and relatives from the expense associated with a dog-related injury.
 
In the past, it was very easy to find pet liability insurance.  Typical renters and homeowners insurance policies provided victims of dog bites with $100,000 or more in coverage.  However, the insurance industry has been slowly moving away from providing this type of coverage automatically within a homeowners policy.  Today's new insurance policies may actually exclude bites and injuries caused by dogs, while other insurance carriers are beginning to eliminate this coverage from their existing policies.  In addition, a more common tactic of an insurance carrier might be to identify certain breeds of dogs that have been associated with these types of injuries and exclude them from coverage.  Our companies pay close attention to breeds of dogs in your home before they'll insure your home.
 
The bottom line here is that pet owners, especially dog owners, should make sure their insurance policy provides them with the protection they need.  Anyone that owns a dog, and their existing insurance policy explicitly denies this liability coverage, may want to give serious consideration to switching to an insurance carrier that will provide this coverage.
 

Contact Us

At Benton White Insurance, we offer pet coverage on automobiles and healthcare coverage policies.  Our home insurance liability covers certain pets and if you have farm animals such as chickens, horses etc., we can step up with liability coverage there also.  In other words, if you have animals - we can find a way to insure you appropriately in most all cases.  Let us help you if you have the need!  EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or call any of our staff at 615.377.1212.  We're here to earn your business and your pets too!
 
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Posted on 05/19/2016 11:04 AM by Benton White
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Tuesday, 17 May 2016
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It's tornado season in Tennessee and for much of the rest of the USA.  April, May and June are the most active months for tornadoes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center.  Tornadoes frequently occur in other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, and across Europe and Asia, but the United States has more tornadoes for its size than any other country. 
 
The costliest U.S. tornado outbreaks in terms of insured losses were in the billions of dollars, with the top three occurring in just the past five years. According to the Insurance Information Institute and Property Claims Services:
  • The tornadoes that hit Tuscaloosa and Hackenberg, Ala., April 22-28, 2011, caused $7.6 billion in insured losses and affected 13 states.
  • On May 22, 2011, an EF-5 tornado struck Joplin, Mo., which at its peak was more than one mile wide with winds that registered at more than 200 mph. As the tornado traveled 22 miles across the state, it killed 158 people and injured more than one thousand more, according to a report from U.S. Tornadoes. The series of tornadoes that impacted 20 states resulted in $7.2 billion in insured losses.
  • Tornadoes in Southeast Kansas and Missouri on May 2, 2013, affected residents in 18 states altogether, and created approximately $4 billion in insured losses.
The Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research at the University of Alabama Culverthouse College of Commerce has partnered with the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, the Alabama Department of Insurance and Smart Home America to create the new "2016 Tornado Preparedness Guide & Insurance Tips," which highlights some safety steps as well as the new technology available to provide some advance warning of these deadly weather events.
 
"Recent studies show that most people have short memories surrounding disasters," said Lars Powell, director of the Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research. "As unpleasant as it may be to remember a terrible storm, if we don't keep the public's attention, we will not be ready for the next event."
 
Here are five things to do to prepare for tornado season:
 
1. Warning: Tornado Ahead
 
Residents in tornado-prone areas should be familiar with the terminology that indicates how imminent a tornado may be:
  • Tornado Watch ― conditions are favorable for tornadoes in the area.
  • Tornado Warning ― issued from NOAA, thunderstorms with tornadoes are imminent or occurring.
  • Provided it is safe to do so, residents should secure any items that could become projectiles such as umbrellas, outdoor furniture or trash cans; move vehicles inside a garage or carport; and check tie-downs for mobile homes before moving to a safe location.
If a warning siren sounds, immediately take shelter inside and stay away from windows.
 
2. Staying Safe
 
  • When it comes to tornado readiness, the new tornado guide offers several recommendations to keep residents safe when a tornado hits. People who get caught outside or in a mobile home should immediately seek shelter inside a solidly constructed structure or in the basement of a nearby building.  If you can't get to a building in time, lie down in a ditch or other low-lying area and cover your head with your arms.
  • Unlike the movie "Twister," drivers should not follow or try to outrun a tornado. If possible, drivers should seek shelter in a sturdy structure, but should not park under a highway overpass since it could collapse in the high winds.
  • Residents inside a home or other building should go to an interior room in the basement. If there is no basement, go to an inside room, preferably one without windows such as an interior hallway, a closet or a bathroom on the lowest level possible.
  • To protect against flying debris, use cushions, blankets, a mattress or other impermeable items as a cover.
3. Am I Covered?
 
Usually, severe weather-related events would be covered under a Homeowners', Renters' or Commercial insurance policy, but policyholders should understand what their coverage provides and what it does not.
  • Creating a home inventory with photographs can be most valuable when it comes to reporting items lost in a tornado or other weather event. Many insurers have tools that can help capture a home's contents before a loss occurs. At the very least, take photos of each room in the home, paying particular attention to antiques, works of art, collections of any sort, firearms, rare books, jewelry, furs and other items that would be difficult to replace in the event of a loss. Make sure to check with an insurance agent to ensure the items have the proper coverage and limits.
  • Save the photos to the cloud or store them someplace where they can be easily accessed in the event the home is damaged or destroyed.
4. Tornado Warnings
 
Each year the National Weather Service issues more than 1,000 watches and almost 30,000 severe storm warnings.  NOAA has an early warning system that can predict whether or not there is a potential for tornadoes as far as eight days ahead of a weather event. In addition, municipalities can now provide residents with a weather warning about 14 minutes before a tornado occurs. There are also a number of vendors that provide services which allow insurers to warn policyholders when a severe weather event is imminent in their area.  
 
Social media can also be used effectively to educate and warn policyholders when storms, tornadoes and other events pose a risk.
 
5. Road to Recovery
 
Tornadoes cause widespread devastation over a large area as the infrastructure and other resources are destroyed and place burdens on first responders, residents, insurers, suppliers and others.
 
Here are some tips to begin the recovery process after a tornado event:
  • Policyholders should contact their insurance agents or other company representatives to report any damage. An agent should be able to provide information on additional living expenses that will be reimbursed and other payment information.
  • Take photos of the damage and begin creating an inventory of what was lost or damaged. (This is where a home inventory can be particularly helpful.)
  • Secure the property against further damage and theft, as best as possible.
  • Keep a log of conversations with individuals involved with the claim. Save receipts for all expenses, such as food, clothing, lodging, medication, repairs.
  • Business owners should keep records of any activities that have been affected by the tornado and extra expenses incurred. An agent can provide information on what is covered under business interruption coverage.
  • Beware of fraudsters. Unfortunately, some individuals see disasters as an opportunity to take advantage of people who have already suffered tragic losses. Check out companies who solicit your business with the Better Business Bureau and other online rating services. Call previous customers to see if they were satisfied with the work performed. Don't pay for everything up front and remember that if what the company promises sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
So far this year, U.S. Tornadoes says the United States has had the most active February since 1950, with multiple tornado events ― 36 reports from Feb. 15-16 and 79 from Feb. 23-24. Another 32 tornadoes were reported on March 30-April 1, and 41 were reported from April 26-27.
 
"Tornado preparedness saves lives," said Jim Ridling, commissioner of insurance for the state of Alabama. "The time between detection and devastation can be very short, and public education is the best strategy to keep people safe during tornadoes."
 
Contact Us
 
Our policies cover our insureds for tornado's and straight-line winds - a real cause of claims in the last 2 years.  If we can help you, please let us know.  Contact any of our staff at 615.377.1212 or EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com ... These steps we have outlined today are REAL STEPS that can help you if we have a tornado event in the Middle Tennessee area this season or other season's to come.

[Portions of this blog article taken from a release on MAY 05, 2016 BY PATRICIA L. HARMAN with PROPERTYCASUALTY360.COM]
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Posted on 05/17/2016 10:00 AM by Benton White
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Thursday, 12 May 2016
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So here is the headline I saw in the news last week!  Snapchat at 107 M.P.H.  Lawsuite Blames Teenager (and Snapchat) 
 
OK ... I admit, I'm a baby-boomer - and NOT in the current controlling culture of the millennials but really, this latest story is very hard to believe on a number of angles.  
Even in the age of social media, this particular selfie seemed extreme: a teenager strapped into a gurney, with blood running down her forehead, somehow taking the time to tap out a message to her Snapchat friends: "Lucky to be alive."
 
The selfie quickly went viral and is a component of a lawsuit filed by a Georgia man accusing the teenager, Christal McGee, of recklessly using Snapchat while driving over 100 miles per hour and slamming into his vehicle last year, leaving him with severe injuries. He is also suing Snapchat, accusing the company of negligence.
 
After the accident, lawyers for the man, Wentworth Maynard, distributed the photo of Ms. McGee on the gurney, leading the police to open an investigation into the crash.
 
According to a police report, Ms. McGee, who was 18 at the time, was driving with three friends in a Mercedes-Benz around 10 p.m. on Sept. 10 in Hampton, Ga. She and her friends maintain that Mr. Maynard's vehicle drifted into their lane, and then Ms. McGee crashed into his car. She lost control and ran off the road.
 
Mr. Maynard sustained a "severe traumatic brain injury," his lawyer said. The police were not able to interview him that night because of his injuries, they said. Neither driver was immediately cited for a traffic violation.
 
Mr. Maynard and his wife filed the lawsuit on April 19. It says that Ms. McGee began using a Snapchat "lens" that clocks the speed of vehicles, attempting to push her car to higher and higher speeds.
 
An accident reconstruction determined that, at the time of the collision, Ms. McGee was driving 107 m.p.h., the lead lawyer in the lawsuit, Michael L. Neff, wrote on his website. He also published photos of the teenager's selfie and of both cars after the accident, showing the white Mercedes Ms. McGee had been driving with a smashed front end and Mr. Maynard's Mitsubishi with a demolished left side and back end.
 
In a telephone interview, Mr. Neff declined to say how he obtained the Snapchat selfie.
 
"Wentworth Maynard began a five-week stay in the intensive-care unit, where he was treated for a severe traumatic brain injury," Mr. Neff wrote on his website. Mr. Maynard and his wife are suing Snapchat and Ms. McGee to recoup all costs associated with the accident and his injuries.
 
The crash has become a high-profile case in the debate over distracted driving, a growing problem largely attributed to people who can't put down their electronic devices while they're behind the wheel. Because of the dangers associated with driving while distracted, experts are pushing to treat it - and, in some cases, penalize it - like drunken driving.
 
"It's dangerous, devastating, crippling, and it's a killer and still socially acceptable," Candace Lightner, the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and a founder of Partnership for Distraction-Free Driving, told The Times.
 
Attempts to reach Ms. McGee were unsuccessful. In an interview, her grandfather James McGee said that the teenager had also been seriously injured in the crash, and that her family believed Mr. Maynard was responsible for the accident.
 
"He pulled his vehicle out in front of them," Mr. McGee said, "not giving them enough time to stop. Now they're trying to lay the rap on her."
 
Mr. McGee said that since the accident, Ms. McGee had graduated from high school and wanted to join the Air Force, but her plans had been delayed because of the crash. She is working part time at a home improvement store, he said.
 
Her grandfather added, "It's a big setup for somebody who is young and innocent."
 
Mr. Maynard's lawsuit accuses Snapchat of motivating drivers to use the filter to receive a "trophy," one of the app's badges given to users after they complete a task. According to Snapchat, the service has never offered trophies for high-speed driving.
 
A Snapchat spokesman emailed this statement: "No Snap is more important than someone's safety. We actively discourage our community from using the speed filter while driving, including by displaying a Do NOT Snap and Drive' warning message in the app itself."
 
Chief Mark Harris of the Lovejoy Police Department, one of several law enforcement agencies that operate along the road on which the crash occurred, said on Monday that Ms. McGee hasn't been charged with speeding partly because there had been conflicting reports from her passengers about how fast she was driving. But the police have opened an investigation into the crash after reports said that Ms. McGee had been using Snapchat, Chief Harris said.
 
"We didn't know anything about Snapchat," he said.
 
The Police Department is trying to verify the speed, he said, adding that Mr. Maynard may also have committed a moving violation by changing lanes without signaling.
 
So Snapchat offers you the opportunity to clock your speed in a Snapchat recording while you're driving your vehicle.  As I have said before, we are giant proponents of "Do not TEXT while you drive" .... I guess we should add this to our comments:  "Do not TEXT or SNAPCHAT or USE YOUR PHONE while you drive!"  Somewhere along the way, we have forgotten what a person behind a wheel can do with that machine called an automobile.  We take for granted our safety by texting, take pictures, do makeup, read books on the phone and the list goes on and on.  Hopefully, we can all get back to just driving a car when we are behind the wheel and nothing more.  At least that's our hope here at Benton White Insurance!!
 
We want safety considered on all fronts and when we insure someone, we, along with the customer, hope they will never have to use the insurance.  But if they do, we'll be here to help.  Let us know if we can help you.  EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or call any of our staff at 615.377.1212.  We're here and ready to earn your business ... AND encourage you to just drive a car when you are behind the wheel - and nothing more!

[Portions of this blog article taken from an article: "Snapchat at 107 M.P.H.? Lawsuit Blames Teenager (and Snapchat)" by Katie Rogers from www.nytimes.com, May 3rd, 2016]
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Posted on 05/12/2016 2:56 PM by Benton White
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Tuesday, 10 May 2016
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Whether your are in your senior adult years or you have parents or other family members who are in that age demographic, this is information that isn't often considered as we take care of ourselves or others.  It's no secret that Americans are living longer, but not all are in optimal health as shown in television commercials, creating a cottage industry in home health care.  In addition, the first of the baby boomers turned 70 this year, while others have responsibilities for aging family members. As a senior citizen or caretaker of an older person, preparing for and protecting against a fire, flood, hurricane or other disaster can be a special challenge, says the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). 
 
Many seniors live alone and may have special needs or limited physical mobility, which makes them more vulnerable than younger people when there is a disaster. Therefore, it's all the more important to take steps to prepare for an emergency by evaluating the specific challenges faced by seniors and making an emergency plan to fit their needs.
 
Here is a checklist of 7 steps that can be a helpful tool to help seniors (and those who love and care for them) prepare for a disaster.  Thanks to the Insurance Information Institute for this information
 

1. Make a Medical Plan

In the event of a disaster, you may not have access to a medical facility or even a drug store. If you take medication or receive regular medical treatments - such as dialysis, chemotherapy or even physical therapy - talk to your medical provider about an emergency back-up plan.
 
Keep an up-to-date file of your medical history including doctors, prescriptions and dosages, as well as regular medical treatments. Include a copy in your disaster kit, and make sure that a family member or a good friend has a copy too.
 

2. Prepare a Disaster Kit

Have the supplies you need on hand in case you have to evacuate or manage on your own for a period after a disaster, including:
  • Enough food, water and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours.
  • Items necessary for your specific needs, such as eyeglasses, catheters, hearing aid batteries, oxygen or meal replacement shakes, for example.
  • Important documents, such as health insurance cards, Medicare cards, family records, power of attorney, copies of your Homeowners' and Auto insurance policies and contact information for your insurance professional.
  • Cash to purchase emergency supplies in the event that power outages prevent the use of credit cards or ATMs.
  • For a full list of disaster supply items, see Ready.gov.

3. Plan for an Evacuation

  • Contact your county government or local municipality to find out whether you are in an evacuation zone.
  • Locate the nearest official shelter - the American Red Cross or your local government will have this information. 
  • If you have a pet, be sure to research shelter pet friendly shelter options.
  • If you are physically unable to drive, identify someone who can provide transportation. And, if you have any disabilities, are wheelchair bound or use a walker or cane, build more time into your evacuation plan.
  • Create a network of neighbors, relatives, friends and co-workers you can rely on in an emergency. 
  • Share your plans with the group and make sure you know how to communicate with each other if a disaster strikes.

4. Take Steps to Prepare Your Home

The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety has information on how to make your home better able to withstand a disaster - and don't be afraid to ask friends and family for help with mitigation tasks.  Purchase a generator, especially if you rely on electricity for health reasons. And remember, even a simple storm can result in a power outage, so it is important to be prepared any time.
 

5. Make Sure Your Homeowners' Insurance is Up-To-Date

Continue to insure your home, even if you have paid off your mortgage and Homeowners' coverage is no longer required by the bank.  Schedule a time to review your coverage with an insurance professional at least once a year. Children of older parents should consider participating in the review. 
 
Here are some questions to ask your insurance professional:
  • Do I have enough coverage to completely rebuild my home?
  • Is my Additional Living Expenses limit sufficient to cover the extra costs involved in living away from home if my house is being repaired after a disaster?
  • What is my deductible? And do I have a separate deductible for hurricanes, hail or earthquakes?
  • Keep an up-to-date home inventory - it will make it easier to both purchase the right amount of insurance for your belongings and file a claim. Most carriers have information on how to create a home inventory, and some have inventory software that lives "in the cloud" so you can access it from anywhere after a disaster.

6. Consider Other Coverages

If you rent your home, Renters' insurance is inexpensive and will provide coverage for your belongings in the event of a disaster.  Flood and earthquake are not covered under standard Homeowners' and Renters' policies. Flood insurance is available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Flood Insurance Program and from a few private insurance companies. At Benton White Insurance, we offer flood insurance through this program.  Earthquake coverage is available from us as well as an extra added feature that can endorse onto your home insurance plan.
 

7. Take Advantage of Resources Available to Seniors

If you or a loved one live in a group setting, such as an adult-living community or assisted-living facility, speak with the administrator and find out the specific disaster preparation and evacuation plans the facility has in place.  FEMA has great resources for seniors at Ready.gov. The AARP, the American Red Cross and the National Organization on Disability all offer resources for older people and those who love and care for them.
 
I think this is a great list to help you get ahead of a disaster if it strikes you are those you love.  Since we just passed the anniversary of the Nashville Flood on May 1, none of us forget the multitude of problems and inconveniences so many faced during that terrible May weekend in 2010.  Hopefully, no matter what disaster we possibly could face, this list will help you to be better prepared.
 
Let us help you with your insurance.  We're easily reached at info@BentonWhite.com or contact any of our staff at 615.377.1212.  As always, we're here to earn your business!
 
[Editor's note: Portions of this article first appeared on iii.org, and was reprinted by Rosalie L. Donlon on propertycasualty360.com - May 4th, 2016]
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Posted on 05/10/2016 2:56 PM by Benton White
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