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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Thursday, 05 May 2016
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All of us would like to think we'll never suffer any damage to our homes, but we also realize that things come up - ranging from severe weather to plumbing mishaps. Things that can, in fact, cause damage. One of our great companies that we represent here at Benton White Insurance, Travelers Insurance Companies Inc. has identified the most common and costliest homeowner claims.  Here's a Q&A! 
 
Q: So what is the most common cause of damage to a typical home?
 
A: Based on a review of its U.S. homeowners insurance claims made from 2009 to 2015, Travelers found weather incidents were the most common cause of damages, resulting in more than half of all claims. Wind, pipes freezing and bursting, roof and flashing leaks and ice dams were among the major issues leading to damage during weather events.
 
Q: Can you break that down?
 
A: Exterior wind damage accounts for 25 percent of all losses. Hail causes 15 percent and weather-related water damage like rain, melting snow and ice, account for another 11 percent.
 
Q: What about non weather-related damage ... how significant is that?
 
A: Plumbing or appliance issues make up 19 percent of the claims and theft is another 6 percent.
 
Q: What are some of the costliest claims homeowners deal with?
 
A: While weather-related claims were most common, fire caused the most expensive claims, accounting for nearly one quarter of the total claim costs. Fires were often caused by appliance and machinery misuse or failure, electrical problems, including wiring or outlet issues, and cooking. Hail, wind, and plumbing or appliance leaks followed fire as the most expensive claims.
 
Q: What are the most common causes of water damage?
 
A: There are typically two main causes of water damage - weather events, such as rain or snow melt, and other issues, such as pipes bursting or leaking. By comparison, more water damage was caused by events such as a pipe bursting, or plumbing or appliance issues, than from the weather.
 
Q: Does the type of claim a homeowner files depend somewhat upon where they live?
 
A: Yes. In the South, wind was the most common cause of home claims and hail was the most expensive.
 
Q: Any thoughts on how a homeowner can prevent these kinds of incidents from happening?
 
A: To help consumers keep their property and families safe, Travelers provides home maintenance steps, seasonal safety tips, suggestions about preparing for severe weather events and more on its Prepare and Prevent website. Homeowners should also review their policies annually to help ensure they have the coverage they may need should something go wrong. When damage occurs, insurance coverage depends on the specific circumstances of the situation, as well as the terms of the homeowners' insurance policy. Travelers suggests that individuals speak with an independent insurance agent to help understand their policy and coverages.
 

Contact Us

So that's us!  We're an independent agency and represent Travelers and other great companies.  If we can help you, contact any of our staff at 615.377.1212 or EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com.  We're here to earn your business.
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Posted on 05/05/2016 11:38 AM by Benton White
Tuesday, 03 May 2016
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Over the last seven years, most states - including Tennessee - have banned texting by drivers, and public service campaigns have tried an array of tactics - "It can wait," among them - to persuade people to put down their phones when they are behind the wheel.  Yet the problem, by just about any measure, appears to be getting worse. Americans confess in surveys that they are still texting while driving, as well as using Facebook and Snapchat and taking selfies. Road fatalities, which had fallen for years, are now rising sharply, up roughly 8 percent in 2015 over the previous year, according to preliminary estimates.  
 
That is partly because people are driving more, but Mark Rosekind, the chief of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said distracted driving was "only increasing, unfortunately."
 
"Radical change requires radical ideas," he said in a speech last month, referring broadly to the need to improve road safety.
 
So to try to change a distinctly modern behavior, legislators and public health experts are reaching back to an old strategy: They want to treat distracted driving like drunken driving.
 
Harvard's School of Public Health, for example, is developing a new push based on the effective designated driver campaign it orchestrated in the United States beginning in the late 1980s. Candace Lightner, the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, has helped found a new group this year, Partnership for Distraction-Free Driving, which is circulating a petition to pressure social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to discourage multitasking by drivers, in the same way that Ms. Lightner pushed beer and liquor companies to discourage drunken driving.
 
The most provocative idea, from lawmakers in New York, is to give police officers a new device that is the digital equivalent of the Breathalyzer - a roadside test called the Textalyzer.
 
It would work like this: An officer arriving at the scene of a crash could ask for the phones of any drivers involved and use the Textalyzer to tap into the operating system to check for recent activity.
 
The technology could determine whether a driver had used the phone to text, email or do anything else that is forbidden under New York's hands-free driving laws, which prohibit drivers from holding phones to their ear. Failure to hand over a phone could lead to the suspension of a driver's license, similar to the consequences for refusing a Breathalyzer.
 
The proposed legislation faces hurdles to becoming a law, including privacy concerns. But Félix W. Ortiz, a Democratic assemblyman who was a sponsor of the bipartisan Textalyzer bill, said it would not give the police access to the contents of any emails or texts. It would simply give them a way to catch multitasking drivers, he said.
 
"We need something on the books where people's behavior can change," said Mr. Ortiz, who pushed for the state's 2001 ban on hand-held devices by drivers. If the Textalyzer bill becomes law, he said, "people are going to be more afraid to put their hands on the cellphone."
 
If it were to pass in New York, the first state to propose such an idea, it could well spread in the same way that the hands-free rules did after New York adopted them.
 
Ms. Lightner said the intensifying efforts around distracted driving "are the equivalent of the early '80s" in drunken driving, when pressure led to tougher laws and campaigns emphasizing corporate responsibility.
 
Distracted driving "is not being treated as seriously as drunk driving, and it needs to be," she said.
 
"It's dangerous, devastating, crippling, and it's a killer, and still socially acceptable," she added.
 
The safety administration plans to release the final fatality numbers as early as Thursday but previously announced that the numbers appeared to be up sharply.
 
Jay Winsten, an associate dean and the director of the Center for Health Communication at Harvard's School of Public Health, said, "We're losing the battle against distracted driving."
 
Dr. Winsten is developing a distracted-driving campaign based on designated-driver efforts that were ultimately backed by major television networks and promoted by presidents, sports leagues and corporations.
 
He said the new campaign would urge drivers to be more attentive, rather than scold them for multitasking, and would encourage parents to set a better example for their children.
 
The campaign, though still in development, has already garnered support from YouTube, which has agreed to recruit stars on the website to create original content involving the message. Dr. Winsten said he had also been in talks with AT&T, Nascar, a major automaker and potential Hollywood partners.
 
Dr. Winsten said the new campaign could be a kind of carrot to encourage better behavior by drivers, but he added that a stick was also needed.
 
While the Textalyzer raises potential privacy concerns, it might help enforce texting bans that have so far proved ineffective, he said.
 
"Right now, we have a reed, not a stick," Dr. Winsten said, adding that the Textalyzer would "make enforcement that much more credible."
 
Now, the police can obtain a warrant for cellphone records, but the process takes time and resources, limiting the likelihood of investigation, Mr. Ortiz said. But those protections are there for good reason, according to privacy advocates, who oppose the New York bill.
 
"It really invites police to seize phones without justification or warrant," said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
 
A unanimous decision by the Supreme Court in 2014 ruled that the police could not search a cellphone without a warrant, even after an arrest, suggesting an uphill fight on the New York legislation.
 
But the bill's authors say they have based the Textalyzer concept on the same "implied consent" legal theory that allows the police to use the Breathalyzer: When drivers obtain a license, they are consenting in advance to a Breathalyzer, or else they will risk the suspension of their license.
 
Matt Slater, the chief of staff for State Senator Terrence Murphy of New York, a Republican and a sponsor of the bill, said the constitutional concerns could and should be solved. "It's monumental if we can get this done," he said.
 
Mr. Slater said he hoped it could happen this session, which ends in June, but, he added, it may take several tries and may require broader public support.
 
"We're facing the same hurdles we faced with drunk driving," he said. "We're trying to make sure safety and civil liberties are equally protected."
 
Fourteen states prohibit the use of hand-held devices by drivers, and 46 ban texting, with penalties ranging from a $25 fine in South Carolina to $200 fines elsewhere, and even points assessed against the driver's license.
 
A handful of states have strengthened their original bans, including New York, which in 2014 adopted tougher sanctions that include a 120-day suspension of a permit or a license suspension for drivers under 21, while a second offense calls for a full-year suspension.
 
Deborah Hersman, the president of the nonprofit National Safety Council and a former chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said she liked the Textalyzer idea because it would give the police an important tool and would help gather statistics on the number of crashes caused by distraction.
 
She said the Textalyzer-Breathalyzer comparison was apt because looking at and using a phone can be as dangerous as driving drunk.
 
"Why are we making a distinction between a substance you consume and one that consumes you?" Ms. Hersman said.
 
The Textalyzer legislation has been called Evan's Law for Evan Lieberman, who was asleep in the back of a car on June 16, 2011, when the vehicle, driven by a friend, lost control.
 
Mr. Lieberman, 19, died from his injuries, and his father, Ben Lieberman, spent months trying to gain access to phone records, which ultimately showed that the driver had been texting.
 
Ben Lieberman became an advocate for driving safety, and in December, looking to develop the Textalyzer concept, he approached the mobile forensics company Cellebrite, which was involved in helping the government find a way into a locked iPhone, and which works with police departments around the country.
 
Jim Grady, the chief executive of Cellebrite U.S.A., said that the Textalyzer software had not been fully built because it was not clear what a final law might require, but that it would not be too technologically challenging.
 
"I hope it will have the same effect as the Breathalyzer," he said.
 
At Benton White Insurance, we continue to consistently promote - "DO NOT TEXT AND DRIVE!"  We have begun to see claims from accidents that occur because of it.  We hope our customers are heeding this advice and trust you will also.  Thanks for reading our blog!  Hopefully, it offers up information that will assist you in better understanding all things insurance.  If we can help you with any type of coverage's or policies, we're here and ready to earn your business.  Email us at info@BentonWhite.com or call any of our staff at 615.377.1212.  
 

 
[Partial source of this blog post: Texting and Driving? Watch Out for the Textalyzer // NY Times - Mitch Richtel]
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Posted on 05/03/2016 2:14 PM by Benton White
Friday, 29 April 2016
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(Bloomberg) -- Rather than having a car sit for hours on the curb, BMW AG's Mini brand plans to help its customers turn idle downtime into cash.
 
Mini plans soon to make its new cars available with devices that enable owners to rent out their vehicles, like Airbnb Inc. does with spare rooms and empty apartments. The system includes features that accept payment and track the vehicle to make sure the renter doesn't go for a one-way joyride.
 
"It's going to be kind of like Airbnb on wheels," Peter Schwarzenbauer, the BMW executive who oversees Mini, said in an interview at the Beijing motor show. "There'll be those who say, Never, ever will I lend my car to strangers.' Then there'll be others who'll love the idea of halving their leasing rate."
 
If the test goes well, BMW plans to expand the service to its namesake luxury-car brand, Schwarzenbauer said, adding that the technology is easy to install and will be available at "no significant cost" to the owner.
 
The rental feature is part of BMW's push into so-called mobility services as ride-sharing operators like Uber Technologies Inc. provide consumers with alternatives to owning an auto. BMW already runs car-sharing in cities in Europe, and it plans to add options like vehicle delivery and a taxi-like chauffeur service this year in a new shared fleet introduced this month in Seattle.
 
BMW plans training and certification for the chauffeur service to ensure the company offers a premium product, Schwarzenbauer said, adding that there's been a promising response from people wanting to become drivers. The chauffeur operation will use fixed pricing rather than Uber's dynamic method, where fares rise during times of high demand, he said. A rollout to about 10 U.S. cities is in the works.
 

Contact Us

Thanks for reading our blog!  We're here to earn your business and can be contacted at 615.377.1212 or EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com.  Let us know if we can help you, your family or friends.
 
 

 

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Posted on 04/29/2016 1:02 PM by Benton White
Tuesday, 26 April 2016
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Consider this:  milder days offer a prime opportunity for spring cleaning and home maintenance. After a long winter, it's highly advisable that you consider spending some time on preventive measures that will help maintain your home and property all year long. From cleaning out your gutters and checking for dead trees and branches, to cleaning and inspecting your home mechanical systems such as your heating and air conditioning equipment, there are many ways to make spring a season of safety.  Insurance premiums can be saved and claims can be prevented with just a little maintenance work around your home.  Here are some examples: 

Inside Your Home

  • Check your electrical outlets for potential fire hazards, such as frayed wires or loose-fitting plugs. Make sure outlets, fuse boxes and extension cords are not overloaded.
  • Move your multi-purpose fire extinguisher to an accessible place, and make sure it is filled and ready for operation.
  • Have your air-conditioning system inspected by a professional as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Check your water heater for leaks and corrosion.
  • Clean or replace your furnace filter.
  • Clean the clothes dryer exhaust duct and space under the dryer. Remove all lint, dust, and pieces of material.
  • Inspect your smoke detectors. Make sure there is one on each floor of your home. Test them monthly, and change the batteries annually or as needed.
  • Check the light bulbs in all your fixtures. Be sure they are the correct wattage as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Replace all high-intensity bulbs with fluorescent bulbs. Other types of bulbs, like incandescent, produce more heat than fluorescent bulbs.

Outside Your Home

  • Check for damage to your roof.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts to keep debris from accumulating.
  • Remove dead trees in your yard.
  • Keep healthy trees and bushes trimmed and away from utility wires.
  • Safely store oil and gas for lawn equipment and tools in a vented, locked area.
  • Repair cracked, broken or uneven driveways and walkways to provide a level walking surface.

Contact Us

There are other items to consider but if you took a Saturday to do these, it would be well worth your time and certainly could save you money in the long-term.  Consider these as we enjoy this beautiful spring weather in Middle Tennessee.  And if we can help with any insurance needs, we're here and ready to EARN it not only for you but for friends and family as well.  THANKS for reading our blog and let us know if we can assist you.  EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or contact any of our staff at 615.377.1212.
 
[Portions of this blog article furnished by our friends at TRAVELERS INSURANCE COMPANY]
 


 
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Posted on 04/26/2016 1:21 PM by Benton White
Friday, 22 April 2016
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I had the occasion to solicit a ride with UBER last Saturday.  The service is amazing and the speed in which he got to my location was within 4 minutes.  The ride was approximately 11 minutes in the length and the charge was completely reasonable.  The technology is great and the convenience when you need the service is pretty phenomenal.  BUT, what about the insurance and was I protected as a rider in that UBER vehicle  That's where this driver didn't have a chance with this local insurance dude.  The questions began: 
  • "Do you have insurance as a UBER driver?"  "Yes ... my auto is insured...." he answered.  "But do you have an endorsement that covers this type of ride."  "I think so..." he answers....
  • What happens if you wreck this car while I am in it?  Are my injuries covered and will your car be repaired using your vehicle this way?  "I think so ..." he answers.....
My experience with this type of UBER, LYFT or AirBnb risk is that many of the people doing this opportunity to make extra money - driving their car and/or renting their property(s) are not insured appropriately to do so.  
 
There are some issues, however, which apply specifically to these service-sharing applications (apps) and their use, creating risks and financial exposures for the service supplier and customer if the providers are not properly insured to deliver these services.
 

Automobile Exposures

Anyone who plans to make additional money as an Uber, Lyft or other ride-sharing service driver should be aware of the insurance gaps that may exist. Failure to consider them may expose the driver to unexpected consequences. One of the ride-sharing platforms states on its opening website page - "Signing up is easy - Sign up today and you'll be on the road in no time. Plus, signing on takes less than 4 minutes. Don't wait to start making great money with your car."
 
The risk to a new driver is immediate because the usual automobile liability coverage is specifically excluded when working with these ride-sharing platforms. For example, a Georgia automobile policy states the following exclusions under the Liability Coverage, Medical Expense Coverage and Uninsured Motorist Coverage sections:
 
Exclusions 
 
1. This coverage does not apply to bodily injury or property damage to a person:
 
a. While occupying your insured car when used to carry persons or property for a charge. This exclusion does not apply to shared-expense car pools or the charitable carrying of persons.
 
Therefore, a potential driver should not plan to work immediately after signing up for the service. Drivers should purchase commercial automobile liability to cover the losses excluded by their personal automobile policies. Some insurance companies have attempted to provide commercial policies for these drivers, but it is fair to say that the market is still trying to understand the real exposures they face. Potential drivers should research the insurance requirements for their state and discuss this with an insurance agent to obtain the necessary coverage at a reasonable price, since there seem to be wide variations in pricing for this product. Be sure that the cost of this commercial policy does not negate the financial benefit of driving.
 
Potential drivers should also clearly understand the rules, exclusions and coverage limitations imposed by these ride-sharing platforms. While each of these companies provides some guidance or information on insurance requirements, some of them are somewhat unclear, and there have been cases in which the ride-sharing companies were reluctant or slow in assuming liability for their portions of the loss.
 
The insurance requirements these companies list also vary by state or even city, and some of the coverage they provide is contingent on the driver's coverage. Each state has its own rules concerning the minimum limits for liability coverage, and some in the industry definitely believe that minimum limits are rarely sufficient.
 
This is especially true for those who live in an area with relatively well-to-do customers or in an especially litigious area. Potential drivers who plan to serve an area encompassing two or more states should also research the rules and requirements for each state in which they may drive.
 

Homeowners' Exposures 

Airbnb is perhaps the best-known "home-sharing" app, but many individuals with second homes, especially in typical "vacation" areas, may also exchange or lease their properties. Property providers should consider potential exposures to confirm they have appropriate coverage for the risks.
 
Airbnb provides "Host Protection Insurance," which is primary liability coverage for Airbnb hosts and landlords up to $1,000,000 through Lloyd's of London. While this is substantial coverage, each host or landlord should determine if $1,000,000 is sufficient. The risks around the property as well as the financial condition of the guests should be considered.
 
The coverage also excludes some items that may represent a substantial gap in protection. For example, the coverage description states that the "program does not apply to liability arising from (1) intentional acts including: (i) Assault and battery or (ii) Sexual abuse or molestation - (by the host or any other insured party), (2) Loss of earnings, (3) Personal and advertising injury, (4) Fungi or bacteria, (5) Chinese drywall, (6) Communicable diseases, (7) Acts of terrorism, (8) Product liability, (9) Pollution, and (10) Asbestos, lead or silica."
 
Owners should also be aware that their own Homeowners coverage may not apply if they are exchanging or leasing their property. Even if it did, there are many exclusions that may also prevent them from having the coverage they need. Homeowners insurance and Commercial Property insurance are constantly evolving, with new exclusions and conditions appearing annually.
 
There are a number of potential risks in providing these services, too many to be covered in-depth here. Some of these "service-sharing" apps are opportunities to provide owners or drivers with additional income or ways to swap with others to allow travel to areas that may otherwise be unaffordable. However, it is wise to be cautious and ensure that this extra income or property-swapping event does not turn into an incident from which you can never recover.
 
I have been entertaining coverage questions for both of these types of risks and have been able to insure both auto and home/property risks when used in these examples.  If we can help you, please email us at info@BentonWhite.com or contact any of our staff at 615.377.1212..  We're here to help and EARN your business.
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Posted on 04/22/2016 10:12 AM by Benton White
Tuesday, 19 April 2016
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I have had Short Term Medical insurance in my portfolio of marketable products my entire career.  In the past, it met a special need.  Someone who needs temporary healthcare coverage could purchase one of these policies and insure the 'gap' in their coverage from point A to point B.  The typical candidate for this policy would be a college graduate looking for a job, someone who just left one job and headed to another etc.  This limited type of health coverage has features that are largely banned by the Affordable Care Act but sales of the product around the country are flourishing.  Some consumers are grabbing onto this alternative that they say is cheaper than conventional plans sold under the law.  And in most cases, they truly are! 
 
Sales of short-term health insurance are up sharply since the health law's major provisions took effect in 2014!  New sales figures show the temporary policies, traditionally sold to consumers who are trying to fill coverage gaps for a few months, have continued their surge recently-even though people who buy them face mounting financial penalties because the coverage doesn't meet the ACA's standards.
 
Robin Herman, the 34-year-old owner of a marketing firm in San Francisco, bought a short-term policy in December. The monthly cost of her short-term coverage, plus conventional ACA-compliant plans for her two children, is roughly one-quarter of what she would have paid for conventional health plans covering all three of them, she says.
 
"This is saving me a ton of money for the year," she said, despite the penalty. Plans that comply with the health law's rules cost more than her old pre-ACA policy and are "just not affordable," she said.
 
Ms. Herman's new policy, like many short-term plans, doesn't cover pre-existing conditions, a limitation no longer allowed in full health coverage. Ms. Herman's plan also caps total benefits at $1 million, another feature prohibited in ACA plans. It doesn't cover most prescription drugs. To get the plan, Ms. Herman had to qualify as healthy by answering a questionnaire. ACA plans are sold to every consumer regardless of health status.
 
"This is exactly the kind of coverage the ACA was designed to get rid of," said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. Consumer advocates say they fear buyers don't understand the short-term policies' limits, or the risk of penalties that can hit $695 or more for adults in 2016. Some lower-income consumers also may not realize they qualify for federal subsidies that can sharply reduce the cost of ACA plans.
 
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services said that under federal law, short-term plans aren't considered individual health insurance, and thus aren't subject to the ACA's rules. Some short-term plans can last nearly a year, after which a policyholder must reapply.
 
We have short term plans through Blue Cross Blue Shield and other companies.  Knowing the above limitations, if you are needing temporary coverage, let us hear from you.  Simply EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or call any of our staff at 615.377.1212.  As we have done for nearly 38 years, we're ready to EARN your business. 
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Posted on 04/19/2016 12:47 PM by Benton White
Friday, 15 April 2016
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If you're texting while driving, you're not driving!  Watch!

A public service announcement from the insurance agency that wants you to have the right insurance so that you'll be safe rather than sorry! 


Let us know if we can help by emailing us at info@BentonWhite.com or contact any of our staff at 615.377.1212.  We're strong proponents of "DO NOT TEXT - WHEN YOU DRIVE!"  It's the safest way to travel for you and others!

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Posted on 04/15/2016 9:57 AM by Benton White
Tuesday, 12 April 2016
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Winter and the snow and cold that it brings can do some serious damage to a home's exterior.  There are several very common problems usually brought on by the winter months, including damage done to roofs, foundations and pipes. Let me offer a quick list that can help you check your home for damage.  This can give you some idea of what the costs will be to remedy these common problems after winter:
 

1. The Roof

Ice dams and winter storms can do a lot of damage to your roof.  An ice dam occurs when snow on the roof melts, runs to the edge and refreezes there, forcing water back up under the roof where it can cause leaks and shingles deterioration.  At the same time, high winds, hail and winter storms can tear off shingles or drive moisture beneath them, causing further damage. If you've found leaks in your roof, you'll need to repair them to help prevent a complete roof replacement.
  • Cost
    • The average cost to repair roof leaks on a 10 foot by 10 foot area of asphalt shingles is around $650.
    • The total costs range from $500 for simply replacing the shingles to $1,750 to repair and apply a sealant.
    • The costs to repair a tile roof are around $,1500 for damaged steel tiles.
    • The total costs for this type of repair range from $450 for repairing metal flashing to $8,000 if the underlayment needs replacing.
  • Money-saving tips
    • Minimize the damage to the roof by tacking a tarp over the damaged area until it can get repaired.
    • Remove ice dams as soon as possible to prevent water from backing up beneath the shingles and causing more damage.
    • Remove the snow on the roof as soon as possible to prevent new ice dams from forming and causing future problems.
    • Look into getting better attic insulation, as this will help to prevent ice dams in the future as well.
    • Gutter screens are easy - and cheaper - to install yourself. (Photo: iStock)
2. Gutters
 
Ice dams can do damage not only to your roof, but to gutters as well. That's because the heavy ice building up on the edge can pull gutters away from the roofline. At the same time, water freezing inside the gutters and downspouts themselves can lead to separations in some areas, which means that they'll need to be replaced.
 
  • Cost
    • The costs of gutter repair range from new downspouts to a complete gutter replacement.
    • The average cost of installing new downspouts is $160, with a total range of $4 for a do-it-yourself job to $160 for a medium-size house.
    • The average cost of installing new gutter guards to help prevent damage is $200 for do-it-yourself on 200 feet, with a range up to $3,600 for 200 feet of luxury product installed.
    • The average cost of replacing your gutters is between $1,050 and $2,400 for 200 feet, with total costs ranging from $625 for a do-it-yourself job to $2,400 for professional installation. Money-saving tips
    • You can help lower costs by cleaning the gutters before winter begins and removing ice dams in a timely way.
    • PVC gutters and downspouts cost less than aluminum or copper, but you should choose what best fits your house's aesthetic.
    • Heating elements are available that can help melt ice in your gutters all winter long; you may want to invest in these while having repairs done to help prevent problems.
    • Gutter screens are the easiest thing to install do-it-yourself, which can save installation costs in the future as well.
 
3. House Exterior
 
Cold, snow and hailstones can also take a toll on the outside of a house. This can result in peeling paint, which if left long enough, could mean that your siding can become susceptible to moisture infiltrating it, which in turn can lead to wood rot and future repairs. Repainting your exterior in the spring can help prevent these problems.
  • Cost
    • The average cost to paint a home's exterior is between $2,500 to $3,000 for a 1,500-square-foot home.The total costs range from $500 for a do-it-yourself paint job to $4,000 for homes that have a lot of trim and woodwork to paint.
  • Money-saving tips
    • Using multiple colors on your home can increase its aesthetic, but can also increase the total cost, as can having a lot of different architectural features or trim to paint.
    • Do-it-yourself jobs can save a lot of money. Be sure to scrape the existing surfaces well, then apply a primer and two coats of paint to avoid having to repaint again soon.
    • Aluminum siding and fiber cement can be painted to freshen up their colors and give a home a new look without replacing the siding.
4. Siding
 
If the paint has peeled enough on the siding of the house, moisture can begin to infiltrate, causing the wood to begin rotting. In addition, hail stones or fallen tree limbs can damage siding, whether denting aluminum siding or cracking vinyl. Because the siding is a home's first line of defense against the elements, it needs to be repaired in a timely way.
 
  • Cost
    • The average costs to repair siding range from $300 to $1,000, depending on the type of the siding being damaged, and the extent. Vinyl is the least expensive material to repair, as well as one of the easiest to do yourself, while aluminum is among the most expensive to repair with costs ranging from $500 to $900.
  • Money-saving tips
    • The cost to hire a carpenter to repair siding is around $40 to $50 an hour. If you are able to repair it yourself, you can usually save a considerable amount of money.
    • Both aluminum and vinyl are often replaced during repair jobs. Shop around to get a good color match so you don't need to replace as large a section.
    • Repairing wood siding almost always will require the new section to be painted as well. Painting it yourself can help save on labor costs.
5. Driveway
 
A little known problem that can occur during the cold winter months is damage to a driveway.  Small cracks that develop naturally over time are the perfect place for water to collect. When that water freezes, it expands, causing what's known as a frost heave. Frost heaves are responsible for large cracks, as well as potholes in your driveway, making just getting home a bumpy adventure.  Repaving your driveway can correct these issues and help prevent additional damage by eliminating those small cracks as well.
  • Cost
    • The average cost to pave a driveway in either gravel or asphalt ranges from $800 to $1,990 for a 38-foot by 16-foot driveway.
    • The total costs range from about $300 for a gravel do-it-yourself job to $14,880 for a driveway laid with brick pavers.
  • Money-saving tips
    • If you have a lot of curves or grades in your driveway, this can increase costs.
    • Sealing an existing driveway with tar can help prevent potholes and major cracks by filling up the smaller cracks before they have a chance to expand.
    • Gravel is a less expensive way to fill a driveway, but the small stones frequently get scraped away by plows, allowing rainwater to form potholes. Therefore, paving a driveway with asphalt may be a longer term solution, saving money in the long run.
    • Repair cracks in the foundation to avoid major structural problems later on. (Photo: iStock)
6. The Foundation
 
The same freeze/thaw cycle that causes cracks and potholes in a driveway can also affect a foundation.  Hairline cracks in the concrete of a foundation that develop naturally over time because of a home settling can expand during the winter months, causing major structural issues if they aren't taken care of in a timely way.  Getting a foundation repaired in the spring can help prevent more problems from developing as time goes by.
  • Cost
    • The average cost to repair a foundation that has been badly damaged ranges from $5,000 to $7,000.
    • Costs can be affected by the need for an inspection, how widespread the damage is and what types of repairs that may needed. Small cracks that only require sealing can cost as little as a few hundred dollars, while major cracks will require more extensive work.
  • Money-saving tips
    • If you need extensive work done on the foundation, you may want to get at least three estimates from different repair companies to try to find the best pricing for the job.
    • Remember that landscaping may be affected by foundation work. Nearby shrubs or plants may need to be replaced after the work has been done.
    • Having a trench dug for a well pump at the same the foundation work is done can help prevent problems such as flooding.
    • Always inspect the foundation each spring and seal any minor cracks you find to help prevent more extensive work.
    • Trim your trees to keep them from damaging your home during a storm. (Photo: iStock)
7. Trees
 
Your home isn't the only area that can sustain damage during a winter storm. Trees in your yard can also take a hit. Heavy snow and high winds can knock down tree limbs, taking out power lines, damaging siding, and generally making your landscaping look a mess. Getting your trees trimmed can help prevent this type of damage, as well as keep your trees healthy and looking great.
  • Cost
    • The average cost of tree trimming is around $591 per tree, assuming a total of five trees to be trimmed at once.
    • Costs range from about $227 per tree for a do-it-yourself job to $709 per tree for large trees during peak trimming seasons. All costs should include the equipment necessary to do the job and hauling away the cut limbs.
  • Money-saving tips
    • If you have a large number of trees on your property, and are considering having some of them removed, you can sometimes get your trimming done for free by allowing the company to remove a certain number of trees for their own use.
    • To ensure that the work is done properly, always hire a company that is registered with the Tree Care Industry Association. Do not allow workers on your property that wear spike-soled shoes, as these can damage the trees.
    • Check with your utility company before hiring someone to do the job, as some companies will trim trees located near power lines at no cost to you.
Winter damage can become worse over time if you don't take care of it in a timely way. Always make sure to inspect your home in both the fall and in the spring to repair any damage that could affect your home's condition. By taking care of minor issues before winter, you can help prevent larger ones, while taking care of any damage after the cold weather has passed can help your home be ready for anything.
 
We're here to help for all things insurance.  Let us know how we might earn your business by contacting us at info@BentonWhite.com or call us at 615.377.1212.  We've been doing this business for nearly 38 years and we still have room for your business or friends or family.  Thanks for reading!
 
[Portions of this blog article taken from a previously published article in PropertyCasualty360 written by Yuka Kato, media analyst for Wilmington, Del.-based cost information website How Much.]
 
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Posted on 04/12/2016 12:42 PM by Benton White
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Benton's Blog

Hit-and-Run Deaths hit RECORD High!

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...

Why Does ANYONE Do This?

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!?” .embed-container { position:...

Homeowners Insurance!  Do You Have Enough Coverage?

We have coverage discussions on two levels most often here in the insurance agency. 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...