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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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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Friday, 08 April 2016
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We get calls quite often about a possible claim issue whereas the customer thinks the homeowners insurance policy would cover the loss when the claim would best be settled with a homeowner WARRANTY policy.  It is confusing and we always understand when a customer calls why they would have the question.  Let me share some information that might clear up the issue.

Homeowner's Insurance
 
Homeowner's insurance covers against damage and loss caused by fire, wind, hail, fallen tree and other natural acts, as well as by theft and vandalism. Comprehensive insurance policies also cover damages from accidental harm that occurs on the property, especially if it involves a defect in the property. An example of this would be a slip and fall or medical injuries caused by an icicle that falls from a roofline.
 
Significance
 
Homeowner's insurance policies are required by most lenders, since it protects their financial interest in the property if anything major should happen, such as a fire or substantial storm damage. The natural acts, or hazards, covered by these policies vary. For example, some policies cover storm damage, but will not cover hurricane damage. Others will not cover damage by any "act of God" including earthquakes or floods.  However, coverage can be purchased separately as an add-on to their homeowners insurance policy.  Many lenders require this additional coverage if the home sits in a high-risk area, such as mandatory flood insurance for homes located along a river.
 
Home Warranties
 
A home warranty is a policy generally purchased by the seller prior to or at closing on a home purchase though a buyer could purchase one as well. It covers the major systems and appliances of a home and repairs or replaces them when they break during the coverage period. The definitions of major systems and appliances vary from policy to policy, but they typically entail heating and air, plumbing, electrical, hot water heaters, dishwashers, stoves/ovens and garage door openers. If the refrigerator was in the home when it was purchased or before the policy went into effect, it is covered as well.
 
Function
 
Home warranties are optional, but many sellers purchase them as reassurance for buyers that any repairs or replacement of worn components in the home will not come out of their pocket. This is especially valuable in areas where resale homes are in strong competition with new homes, since the out-of-pocket maintenance cost for a resale will be the same as for a new home. Home warranty companies keep a set group of trusted local contractors ready to take care of repairs. The homeowner simply calls the warranty company about the issue and the company calls one of its contractors to come out and assess the situation. The contractor then makes repairs or replaces broken parts if repairs cannot be made. The warranty company pays the contractor directly and charges the homeowner a small fee designed to minimize nuisance calls.
 
Misconceptions
 
Home warranties are not necessarily all-inclusive. Some cover items such as pools or septic systems as part of their coverage, while others offer coverage for those same items at an additional cost. Other policies do not cover them at all. A seller or homeowner who is looking to buy a home warranty should read the fine print on what is covered and any conditions on that coverage before purchasing the policy to make sure it covers all of her needs.
 
Both polices have their place in your portfolio.  We can help with the homeowners insurance but specialty companies write the homeowner warranty policies which often times are best purchased through realtors/realty companies.  Hopefully, this will clear up some of the confusion between the two.  
 
If we can help you with anything "insurance", we're here and ready to EARN your business.  Contact any of our staff at 615.377.1212 or EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com.  We insure just about anything!  Test us and see if that is true!
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Posted on 04/08/2016 2:09 PM by Benton White
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Tuesday, 05 April 2016
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It's always nice to see strength of market with the companies we represent.  The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has ranked the Top 25 property and casualty insurance companies and groups.  They use as their basis - insurance market share of direct premiums written for 2015.  The Top 10 providers accounted for 45.63% of 2015 direct insurance premiums written. 
 
The names in the top 10 P&C carriers remained the same as 2014, but with generally incremental movement up or down in the rankings. The most notable change was Liberty Mutual's drop to fourth place from second.
 
Two of our primary companies, Travelers & Progressive were in the Top 10.  Travelers Insurance ranked #5 with a market share of 3.95%.  Progressive Insurance ranked #6 with a market share of 3.63%.  Auto-Owners Insurance was ranked #19 in the Top 25.  
 
We write business with these great companies nearly everyday for several reasons.  Their premiums are extremely competitive, the service for both policy issues and claims is amazing and they are readily available with the advanced technology they offer.  We have been with Progressive & Auto-Owners for 30+ years and Travelers for the past 10 years.  All three are obvious leaders in the marketplace and it's a privilege to have them in our agency.
 
We can insure you with them and others we represent here at Benton White Insurance.  If we can help, we're always ready to earn your business.  Simply contact us at 615.377.1212 or email us at info@BentonWhite.com.  If you're not ready for coverage quotes right now, pass along this blog article to others by clicking the social media icons above or forwarding this by email to a friend or family member.  We'll do our best for them!
 

 

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Posted on 04/05/2016 11:17 AM by Benton White
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Friday, 01 April 2016
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Our website has become a major contact source for our agency.  We never want to put aside the importance of one to one communication with those that need us, but if you can't reach us at times, the website is ALWAYS there!  We have spent much time and money to develop the most user-friendly site we have seen from an independent insurance agency.  The site - BentonWhite.com is designed so that when you are at your desktop, laptop, tablet or phone, you will see the site that best fits your chosen internet instrument. With such mobility available these days, we know how important it is you have the information at your fingertips any time you want it.  BentonWhite.com gives that to you.

Here are some of the great ways our website has been used already:
  • We have had some customers at the scene of an accident, open up the website and file a claim in real time from their phone while they wait on the police.  At the top of the front page in two different places, you can click on FILE A CLAIM.
  • Someone at a coffee shop had a question about a billing circumstance, clicked on our website and saw at the top right corner - CLICK TO CHAT NOW!  That feature is available 24/7 where you actually CHAT with one of our staff during normal business hours or leave a message after hours.  We're glad to see that section is being used.  We stop what we're doing and are ready to help when a CHAT comes in.
  • We have had many visitors who need insurance click on the box on the front page - NEED INSURANCE?  They visit that section of the site and actually can get a quote from us for insurance.  In some sections, the rates will appear immediately.  In other sections, you can input the data for us and we'll quote the rate for you within 24 hours.
  • One of the most visited pages on our site is the CONTACT US page!  Instead of looking up our numbers or calling for information about how to reach us or find our office location, there is the CONTACT US box also on the front page.  Just click and go!
You can LIKE us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, join us on LinkedIn or EMAIL us.  Those icons are at the top of the page - just click and go! 
 
 
At the bottom of the page, more click and go options:
  • Customer Care Center (so many forms you need where you can change a bank payment, change an address and a host of others right on the Customer Care Center page.
  • Glossary of insurance terms.  No Google needed - just click and go!
  • Videos to explain all things insurance including what to collect at the scene of an accident so you'll have what you need to file the claim plus many, many more!
  • FAQ - questions we get all the time ANSWERED on our Frequently Asked Questions section.
24/7 - ready for you .... our website is ready for you at BentonWhite.com.  Just click and go!  Bookmark our address:  www.BentonWhite.com .... We've created the site with your convenience foremost in our design.  Visit NOW and enjoy!
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Posted on 04/01/2016 1:40 PM by Benton White
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Tuesday, 29 March 2016
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Last August, I cleaned up an off-road bike that had been sitting in the garage for several years - untouched!  After knee surgery in October, 2014, I thought - the weather is nice and how could riding a bike do nothing but better strengthen that knee?  I have some friends that have been cycling for quite some time and they are addicted to the sport! So I navigated onto the rural highways in my county and got a taste of road cycling!  It took very little time before I knew - this was something I wanted to do. 
 
I gave myself 90 days to be sure I would continue to find the time to ride and if I did, I would upgrade my bike and make it one of my primary workouts - 3X per week joining my other strength conditioning workouts 2X per week that I also do.  
 
Little did I know of the growing community of riders not only in Middle Tennessee but around the world.  Bicycle riding is the third most popular outdoor activity among adults, with 12 percent classified as "frequent cyclists." This number increases to 22 percent for children.
 
The basics of bicycle safety are well known-wear a helmet, utilize reflectors, and be visible and alert. But when it comes to insurance, many cyclists are unaware or misguided concerning the steps they can take to further protect themselves and their bicycle.
 
A specialized, stand-alone bicycle insurance policy covers liability, loss, damage, and sometimes medical payments. Bicycle insurance provider Markel American Insurance Co. compiled five common myths and misconceptions about bicycle insurance that agents can use to educate their clients in order to protect themselves and their hobby.
  • Myth #1: Homeowners' policy will cover a stolen bike, and separate bicycle insurance is not necessary.
    • Though a homeowners' policy can sometimes provide coverage for bicycle theft, some homeowners' policies have low coverage limits for things like sporting equipment.  "There is a lack of awareness on the need for this coverage. Most people just assume they are fully covered under their homeowners or renters' policies (as most people don't read the actual policy documents they receive to know exactly what is and isn't covered). In the unfortunate event of an accident, they are shocked to find out there may be exclusions on their homeowner or renters' coverage and possible other limitations, so the cyclist may not receive the full value of the bicycle," said marketing coordinator of Markel American Insurance Co. Lauren Hernandez.  Bicycle owners who fall victim to theft may be faced with much of the replacement cost for their bikes because of low coverage limits and high deductibles.  What's more is that a bicycle claim could cause a person's homeowners' rates to go up. With a separate bicycle insurance policy, cyclists can protect their homeowners' rates and protect their bike from worst-case scenarios.
  • Myth #2: If my homeowners' insurance company writes special coverage (an insurance rider) for the value of my bike, a stand-alone policy is not necessary.
    • Many clients are unaware that even if special coverage is provided in the policy, a stolen or damage bike can still cause a cyclist to fall victim to the homeowners' policy restrictions as there may be exclusions on coverage or other limitations.  Bicycle policies can ensure spare parts and apparel are covered and can provide coverage while racing. Policies can often be customized to fit a cyclist's needs. Roadside assistance, including emergency transportation, is an option offered by some providers.
  • Myth #3: If I buy the best bike lock on the market and I'm smart about storing my bike, it won't get stolen.
    • According to FBI Crime Statistics, a bicycle is reported stolen every 2.8 minutes.  While bike locks do deter thieves, it does not mean that a bike will not be stolen. Expert thieves can easily spot high-value bikes, and even with the best bike lock on the market, they know how to make a bike disappear. Bicycle insurance can cover a bike anywhere at any time, giving cyclists peace of mind concerning the protection of their bike, but owners still need to be aware of their bicycles in order to keep them safe.  "One tip for avoiding theft is out of sight, out of mind.' Keeping your cycle hidden from view is a great way to keep it from rolling away. Of course, always lock your bike to an immovable object with quality cables or U-Locks thru the frame and tires. Remember to remove anything that is easily removable, like lights or your GPS. Also something to keep in mind is storing your bicycle in an area that is dry and out of direct sunlight for prolonged periods. No one wants rotting tires or rusting component, and the sun can do damage that, over time, weakens the performance of some plastic or rubber materials."
  • Myth #4: Bicycle insurance is expensive.
    • Bicycle insurance does not need to be expensive. Markel's bicycle insurance policies, for example, start at $100, and the average policy costs between $250 and $300 a year. For a bike that is worth thousands of dollars, insurance expenses are nothing compared to bike replacement or repair if the worst should happen.  In addition, some carriers provide discounts for members of USA Cycling, USA Triathlon and other bicycling associations, lowering the cost for avid cyclists.
  • Myth #5: Only professional cyclists need insurance.
    • Amateur cyclists, triathletes, and anyone else with a love of biking could use bicycle insurance. Protecting against liability, damage or losses can further enhance the biking experience by providing a cyclist with the satisfaction of knowing their bicycle is protected.
"Most people aren't professional racecar drivers, but we are required to carry auto insurance on our vehicles because in our cars, we are at risk for injuring other people, property or ourselves. Bicyclists are faced with similar risks on the road; and just because they aren't racing, doesn't mean they are immune from causing an accident or injury to someone else," Hernandez said.
 
"When we ask our cyclists how much they have invested in their bike, they are often surprised with their answer-and just how much they've put into it. Many don't realize just how much loss they may be faced with if their bike is stolen or wrecked" said Kerri Nguyen, marketing director for Markel.
 
My staff did some research on this subject and we've learned some of our companies provide more coverage than others.  But the bottom line is that we can help cover your bicycle(s) correctly either with a supplemental policy or in some cases, I might reccommend a separate stand-alone policy for more extensive coverage.  Feel free to contact us if we can help.  EMAIL at info@BentonWhite.com or contact our staff at 615.377.1212.
 
Spring is upon us and this is prime season for cycling.  I certainly intend on being out there enjoying this Middle Tennessee spring weather on my bike!  Let's be sure we insure them correctly!
 
[Portions of this blog taken from and article written by Hannah Bender with PropertyCasualty360.com titled: Bicycle Insurance: 5 Myths and Misconceptions]
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Posted on 03/29/2016 12:56 PM by Benton White
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Sunday, 27 March 2016
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Even though the main emphasis of this blog is not about insurance, there are other things and other days, like today that are much more important. As we spend time with friends and family on this Easter Sunday, we like so many celebrate this day as Resurrection Day. Based on accounts of what happened many, many years ago, one has to wonder what "then" would have looked like "now!"  Please take 90 seconds to watch this video and see what you think!

And from all of us at Benton White Insurance we wish you a Happy Easter !

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Posted on 03/27/2016 6:55 AM by Benton White
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Wednesday, 23 March 2016
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When one of our customers has a claim, I, along with my staff, take it very seriously.  I have always thought that you can sell a policy to a prospect which makes them a customer.  But after you do that as their agent, you have to take care of them with the kind of one on one service they need when they need you.  If you don't, you fail miserably.  Whether it's a bank change, vehicle change or a claim, we work extremely hard to be sure the customer gets the service and time from us they deserve when they bought that insurance policy.  
 
Seeing an article a few days ago that stated that homeowners are less satisfied with claims service - nationally - troubled me.  
 
For the first time since a study was launched in 2011, customer satisfaction has declined among homeowners who filed a property claim, according to the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Property Claims Satisfaction Study.
 
The report, which analyzes customer ratings on a 1000-point scale, shows that satisfaction decreased five points since 2015, from 851 to 846. "From a data standpoint, this is a significant drop," explains Mark Garrett, director of insurance industry analytics at J.D. Power.
 
Until this year, satisfaction scores showed a consistent upward trend.
 
The ratings are based on five categories: settlement, first notice of loss when the claim is reported, estimation process, service interaction and repair process. Service interaction registered the most significant drop in satisfaction-a decrease of eight points. Specifically, claimants were less satisfied with local agents (-8) and claims professionals (-28).
 
The agent's responsiveness, Garrett points out, is partially accountable for the decline. "There's some phone tag in the claims process if the agent isn't immediately available," he explains. "That's a big element in terms of responsiveness, and people rate that."
 
It's often necessary for an agent to communicate with other parties once a homeowner files a claim. Meanwhile, the client is left waiting in the dark. "The agent doesn't have that information right at their fingertips," Garrett says. "But it's helpful to let the customer know that you got their message and are going to get back shortly. Acknowledge that you plan to follow up."
 
According to the study, 51% of the time, the agent initiated a follow-up call to the customer. 
 
I long ago put a process in place so that we stop what we are doing and file a claim immediately.  Some of our companies prefer we refer you directly to their claim department so they can move faster in processing the claim.  Regardless of the company or the way the claim is filed, we place a 3-day follow-up call to make sure the customer has been contacted and they are happy with the process thus far.  If not, we always know where to go to get immediate action for their concern and we do it.  
 
A claim is a hard enough inconvenience without my agency getting in the way with less than an expedient solution.  That's why I think that 98% of the customers who respond to our "End of Claim Survey" always give us high marks on how we helped them through their own claim.
 

Contact Us

If we can help you - we're here and ready to earn your business.  Feel free to contact us at info@BentonWhite.com or call any of our staff at 615.377.1212.  We'll get you insured as good as we can so if you do have that unfortunate claim, we will quickly help you get that taken care of!
 
[Portions of this blog post taken from an article written by Jordan Reabold - from the online publication: Insight & Analysis for the Independent Agent - March, 2016]
 
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Posted on 03/23/2016 3:15 PM by Benton White
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Friday, 18 March 2016
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It's that time of the year!  We start seeing group Harley rides everywhere or just general fun biking on some nice, sportster motorcycle.  They should be insured and we've got one of the top providers of motorcycle insurance right here!  Progressive Insurance covers all types of what they call "toys" and we've got the competitive rates that anyone with a "toy" should consider. 
 
Why Progressive motorcycle coverage?
  • They offer BROAD acceptability meaning that their specialized policies cover 99% of all motorcycles, ATVs, Segways and golf carts!
  • They have specialized coverage that you won't find on a homeowners or auto policy supplement.
  • Their coverage options exceed other specialized carriers
The policy features are pretty amazing:
  • Carried Contents® coverage - pays to replace insureds' owned personal property (such as hunting, camping, touring, or similar gear) that is damaged, destroyed or stolen from the vehicle.
  • Enhanced Injury Protection - covers a portion of income loss or death benefit as the result of a covered accident.
  • Disappearing Deductibles - 25% reduction in Comprehensive and Collision deductible for each claim-free policy period. The fourth consecutive claim-free policy period deductible is $0.  That's right - you can EARN no deductible!
  • Total Loss Coverage (TLC) available for all motorcycles and ATVs that pays the MSRP of a current model year vehicle of the same make/model for a total loss protecting against depreciation and inflation.
  • Off-road vehicles covered off-road and on-road
  • No deduction for depreciation or betterment on partial losses
What makes rates even more competitive?  
  • Discounts or lower rates are there for customers who:
    • Initiate a quote at least one day before their policy begins
    • Make prompt payments
    • Own a home and/or multiple vehicles
    • Have multiple Progressive policies
Progressive fills many needs for insureds if they own wheels like ATV's, MotorHomes, Motorcycles, Private Passenger Vehicles, Commercial Vehicles and more!  This agency has been a part of the Progressive family for 30+ years and have enjoyed efficiency and competitiveness with rates, claims and service.  
 
Let us know if we can help you or someone you know regarding this type or any type of insurance.  Progressive is just one of several companies we can shop for you to find competitive rates for custom designed coverage's.  Simply contact us at info@BentonWhite.com or call any of our staff at 615.377.1212.  We're here to earn your business and if you have "toys", we can insure them competitively for you!
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Posted on 03/18/2016 12:19 PM by Benton White
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Tuesday, 15 March 2016
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In defending himself against lawsuits from women who say he sexually assaulted and then defamed them, Bill Cosby is facing mountainous legal expenses.  Luckily for him, he has homeowners' insurance.
 
That is the surprising tool Mr. Cosby is using to pay his legal fees as he battles defamation claims filed by 10 women in three states.
 
Mr. Cosby's insurer, American International Group, better known as A.I.G., has gone to court to deny him coverage,
arguing, among other things, that it should not have to cover claims that arose from alleged acts of sexual misconduct.
 
But so far, Mr. Cosby is winning.
 
"The court finds that plaintiff has a duty to defend," Judge Beverly Reid O'Connell, of Federal District Court in Los Angeles, said in a ruling last November that favored Mr. Cosby.  Though it may seem novel, Mr. Cosby's policy is a lot like those held by millions of affluent homeowners and other wealthy people who bolster their insurance coverage so that they are protected if they are ever sued.
 
The pitcher Roger Clemens, O. J. Simpson and Bill Clinton have all used so-called personal injury coverage, typically tied into their homeowner's policy, to battle lawsuits.
 
In 1994, Mr. Clinton was fending off accusations that he had sexually harassed Paula Corbin Jones, and that he had his aides cast her account as a lie when they denied the incident occurred. Ms. Jones sued on defamation and other grounds, and Mr. Clinton's insurers helped defray the costs. Mr. Clinton's lawyer said that Mr. Clinton was surprised when he learned his policies would help cover the legal expenses.
 
Others were, too.
 
"How is it that someone has insurance to cover a defamation claim?" Greta Van Susteren, the talk show host, asked on the air after Mr. Clinton's coverage became known. "I mean, where do you buy that, or how do you get that?"
 
The typical homeowner's policy covers bodily injury, the sort of claim that arises when the mail carrier slips on your broken front stoop. But many wealthy Americans, with assets to protect, often pay for enhanced "personal injury" clauses or umbrella policies that provide coverage in a range of other circumstances, including lawsuits that accuse the policy holder of defamation. Two decades ago, the insurance industry estimated that seven million people in the United States held such umbrella policies, although the Insurance Information Institute said it does not have current estimates.
 
"I don't think that celebrities go out looking for defamation coverage. I think they buy quality insurance, and that happens to include defamation coverage," said Randy Maniloff, an insurance coverage lawyer in Philadelphia.
 
Many homeowners do not realize the extent of their coverage until they have a reason - like a defamation suit - to read the fine print.
 
According to Richard D. Emery, a lawyer who represented a former trainer for Mr. Clemens who sued him for defamation, "It's not common, because defamation cases are not common, and certainly defamation cases based on sexual misconduct cases are even more rare."
 
But in Mr. Cosby's case, the defamation suit has become a popular weapon for women who say the entertainer sexually assaulted them decades ago. When they came forward, it was too late to sue on sexual assault grounds, because the statute of limitations had expired. So women have sued him for defamation instead, asserting they were branded as liars when Mr. Cosby's lawyers and other representatives dismissed their allegations as fabrications.
 
To cover his legal costs, Mr. Cosby is relying on the insurance policies he had on his homes in Massachusetts and California, each with limited liability coverage of $1 million, according to court records. Mr. Cosby and his wife, Camille, also have an extra liability policy with coverage of $35 million.
 
Mr. Cosby wants his insurer to pay for the cost of defending him and to cover any final judgments, up to the set limits. For now, A.I.G. is paying the legal fees in three of the five defamation cases. It's unclear if it is covering the costs for the others, filed by two women in Massachusetts. The company did not return calls seeking comment.  But A.I.G. is fighting in federal court in Massachusetts and California and in state court in Pennsylvania to reclaim its legal costs, while also arguing that it should not be on the hook for any final judgments. The insurance company says Mr. Cosby is not covered because there is a "sexual misconduct exclusion" in his policies, a clause that rules out claims for personal injury "arising out of" any actual or alleged sexual misconduct.
 
In her November decision, though, Judge O'Connell in California rejected that argument in a defamation case brought by the former actress Janice Dickinson.  "Sexual misconduct may be the subject matter of defendant's statements, but defendant's statements, not his alleged sexual misconduct, directly caused the injury for which Dickinson now seeks relief," she said.  The judge decided, among other things, that the policy was worded ambiguously; and in matters of ambiguity, the law is interpreted in favor of extending coverage.
 
A.I.G. says it plans to appeal the ruling. It has also amended its complaint to put forth additional grounds for its assertion that Mr. Cosby is not covered, including the fact that the named insured on the California policy is not Mr. Cosby, but his limited liability company.
 
Not all of Mr. Cosby's legal bills are being paid by A.I.G.. For example, he has no insurance to cover the cost of his defense in a criminal case in Pennsylvania, where prosecutors say Mr. Cosby sexually assaulted a young woman in his home in 2004. Mr. Cosby has denied wrongdoing in that case, and in all the cases that are the subject of the defamation suits.  In Massachusetts, the lawyer for seven women suing Mr. Cosby for defamation, Joseph Cammarata, was also a lawyer for Paula Jones when she sued Mr. Clinton, who paid a settlement but never admitted wrongdoing.  Mr. Cammarata is not a fan of the practice in which insurance companies pick up the tab in such instances.
 
"If the allegations are true, you can harm someone, and get somebody else to pay for your wrongdoing," he said. "God bless America! There is no financial responsibility."
 
This is one of the more least used means of payment for liability insurance - whether it be through the homeowners or personal liability umbrella.  We can help you with both!  Simply contact any of our staff at 615.377.1212 or email us at info@BentonWhite.com We're here to earn your business and provide the types of insurance coverage you need!
 
[Portions of this blog is taken from a New York Times web release - "To Defray His Legal Costs in Defamation Suits, Cosby Turns to His Insurance" by Graham Bowley & Sydney Ember - March 13, 2016]
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Posted on 03/15/2016 12:32 PM by Benton White
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Friday, 11 March 2016
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Excuse me - the insurance guy - if I have had my brow raised over this development and discussion of self-driving vehicles being tested.  Do I like the idea?  Yes!  Do I think it will come to the buying public sometime in the future?  Most likely!  How will insurance companies handle the risk of insuring a car with no driver?  Heck if I know but something will be designed if they become prevalent in the marketplace.  
 
The Insurance Journal publication came out with an article in the last few days that focused on which population segment might have the most interest in self-driving cars!  Guess who!  Senior adults!  Here's the article that makes some good points!
 
 
Florence Swanson has lived through every American car from the Ford Model T to the Tesla Model S. Now, at 94, she has stepped into what Google hopes will be the automotive future: self-driving vehicles.
 
After her painting of a guitar player won a Google contest, she became the oldest person yet to ride in a model with the company's autonomous technology.
 
"You haven't lived until you get in one of those cars," the Austin, Texas, resident said of her half-hour excursion. "I couldn't believe that the car could talk. I felt completely safe."
 
Google is betting others will share her sentiment. With more than 43 million people in the U.S. now 65 and older, and 10,000 more hitting that mark every day, aging Americans are a natural target market for self-driving vehicles. Mobility needs - getting to the doctor or the grocery store, seeing family and friends - become paramount for seniors, especially since 79 percent live in suburbs and rural areas.
 
"For the first time in history, older people are going to be the lifestyle leaders of a new technology," said Joseph Coughlin, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's AgeLab in Cambridge. "Younger people may have had smartphones in their hands first, but it's the 50-plus consumers who will be first with smart cars."
 
John Krafcik, chief executive officer of Google's Self-Driving Car Project, featured Swanson during a January presentation in Detroit. His own mother is 96; both she and Swanson gave up their driver's licenses, and the freedom that came with them, roughly a decade ago.
 
"A fully self-driving car has the potential to have a huge impact on people like Florence and my mom," Krafcik said. "Mobility should be open to the millions around the world who don't have the privilege of holding a driver's license."
 

Designing for Elderly

Ford Motor Co. also sees autonomy "as a way to strategically address an aging population," said Sheryl Connelly, the Dearborn, Michigan-based company's in-house futurist. To help design vehicles for the elderly, engineers and designers have donned a "third age suit" incorporating glasses that impair vision and gloves that reduce finger control and strength.
 
In Japan, Toyota Motor Corp. is racing to bring autonomous cars to market, partly because elderly drivers disproportionately cause and are injured in traffic accidents. Some of this work is in the U.S., where the company hired Gill Pratt - former program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and head of DARPA's Robotics Challenge - to lead the Toyota Research Institute. The company is spending $1 billion on artificial intelligence and robotics technology to eliminate driver errors and reduce traffic fatalities.
 
"We often talk about autonomy as if the goal is just to create autonomy in machines," Pratt said last fall when his new job was announced. The focus is more on people having "the ability to decide for themselves where they want to move, when they want to move," regardless of limits imposed by age or illness.
 
Baby boomers - who came of age in the suburbs and equate car keys with freedom - want to remain mobile. Older Americans are keeping their licenses longer and driving more miles than in the past, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. But advancing age often brings health problems, including poorer vision, memory loss, arthritis and other impairments that can affect driving ability.
 

Safety, Convenience

Fatal crash rates are highest among drivers ages 85 and older, according to the institute's analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation. That's mainly because the elderly are more fragile and often suffer medical complications from crash-related injuries.
 
Autonomous cars could provide seniors with the safety and convenience they need, and older people are willing to use new technology "if it provides a clear value to them," MIT AgeLab's Coughlin said.
 
Fully self-driving cars are still years off, however. Automakers and technology companies are using artificial intelligence to help teach them not just to avoid collisions and read traffic signs but also to respond to different types and needs of passengers. Older people, for example, might have several medical appointments and want to tell the car to take them to a specific doctor.
 
Engineers at Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., are evaluating ways riders can interact with their cars, including by giving voice commands, according to spokesman Johnny Luu. The vehicles currently give verbal warnings about their intended path, including lane changes, he said.
 
The small white robot cars Google is testing seat two passengers. Swanson rode in a modified Lexus sport utility vehicle with the same technology. She sat in the back seat with her 70-year-old daughter; a driver and another Google employee were in the front.
 
When asked if companies will use older consumers as guinea pigs for autonomous vehicles, Coughlin said he doesn't think so, partly because there are bound to be "transition problems." Younger people "tend to trust technology without verifying it, while older people want to understand what's happening."
 

Baby Boomers in Control

This may create a marketing challenge for manufacturers developing robot cars. Many baby boomers, in fact, wouldn't buy a self-driving vehicle, according to a November 2015 study by MIT's AgeLab and The Hartford, a Connecticut-based insurance and investment company. While 70 percent of the 302 participants said they'd like a test drive, only 31 percent would purchase one, even if it were the same price as a regular model.
 
"They're still less enthusiastic about using systems where they have less control," said Jodi Olshevski, a gerontologist and executive director of the Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence, a unit of The Hartford.
 
June Raben, 86, isn't ready to yield control to a computer, even though she has an iPhone, an iPad and uses WhatsApp mobile messaging with her granddaughter. She gave up driving a year ago after an accident totaled her car and left her deeply shaken. She now uses the ride-hailing service of Uber Technologies Inc., which is also working on autonomous vehicles.
 
"I have always considered myself a forward-looking risk-taker, but I am not ready for technology to be the only one behind the wheel," said Raben, who lives alone in a Miami Beach condo and likes the social aspects of chatting with Uber drivers. As autonomous vehicles evolve, however, "I can guarantee you that my 15 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren will all be driving robot-driven cars, plus many other robot-driven objects, after I'm gone."
 
Thanks for reading the blog!  You can pass this along to others and share with them our message from our twice weekly publication.  Simply click on one of the Social Media buttons at the top right section of this page to pass it on to others.  
 

Contacts Us

We're here to help with all things insurance!  EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or contact any of our staff at 615.377.1212.. We work hard to EARN your business - not just get it.  Let us know how we might help you, your family or friends.
 
(Portions of this blog post taken from the March 2, 2016 article from Insurance Journal - Self-Driving Car Developers Betting on Senior Citizen Market by Dana Hull and Carol Hymowitz)
 
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Posted on 03/11/2016 12:47 PM by Benton White
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Tuesday, 08 March 2016
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I learned something new last week that caught my eye.  Maybe this new information will be important to you also.
 
There's a smartphone app that turns your phone into an earthquake sensor. There is potential with this to save lives which makes it a great app to have.  Even though earthquakes in our region aren't as prevalent as in other parts of the world, this app is an attention getter for anyone who wants to be aware of earthquakes when they shake us all.
 
Researchers from the University of California at Berkeley and Deutsche Telekom AG have built an app that uses a smartphone's motion sensor to feel earthquakes. The app, called MyShake, records the time and amplitude of a tremor and sends its data and the phone's location to Berkeley's seismological lab for analysis.
 

MyShake can be downloaded for free from Google's Play store, and an
iPhone app is also planned. (Photo: MyShake.Berkeley.edu)
 
The more people who use the app, the better the system will work. The goal is to create a global seismic network - a collective seismograph if you will - that will eventually warn users ahead of time of incoming jolts from far-away quakes.
 
"For many earthquake-prone developing countries such as Nepal or Peru, MyShake could warn potentially affected persons valuable seconds earlier and, ideally, safe lives," Deutsche Telekom said in a statement. "These countries currently have either only a sparse ground-based seismic network or early warning system, or none at all - but do have millions of smartphone users."
 
While a phone's motion sensor, or accelerometer, is less sensitive than an in-ground sensometer, it can record earthquakes above a magnitude of 5 within 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). And the sheer number of potential users makes up for a phone's insensitivity, with an estimated 16 million smartphones in California and about 1 billion worldwide. MyShake can be downloaded for free from Google's Play store, and an iPhone app is also planned, Deutsche Telekom said.
 
As many of our customers know, we offer earthquake insurance as an 'add-on' option to your home insurance policy.  If you have an interest, let us know.  We would be glad to price-quote the addition for you.  In the meantime, MyShake could help you be aware when any shaking is going on close by.  
 
As always, we appreciate you reading our blog.  It's our way of going beyond just insuring folks!  It gives us a personal way to help our readers understand all things related to insurance.  As I have often said - we're in the insurance education business as much as we are working hard to properly insure our customers.  We hope you learn something as you read these and will continue to.  Of course, you can pass these along to others by simply linking them to Facebook or other social media outlets.  Checkout the SHARE buttons at the top right of this article that easily assists you in posting this and other blog articles to other places.  We would appreciate that also.
 
Contact us if we can help you.  EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or call any of our staff at 615.377.1212.  We're always ready to earn your business!
 
(Portions of this blog article taken from a PROPERTYCASUALTY360.com article by Stefan Nicola - February 15, 2016)
 
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Posted on 03/08/2016 12:56 PM by Benton White
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Friday, 04 March 2016
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A little history for you!  When we first began our internet web presence nearly 20 years ago, our first domain was bwhite.com.  Not knowing any more than we did about this new medium that we thought would truly take off because Al Gore invented it and said so (just kidding!), we thought bwhite.com would be easily remembered.  So my first business email was Benton@BWhite.com.  A little later, I thought - why not just use the business name since Benton White Insurance was predominant in our marketing strategy. (I know - real original and creative!).  So we acquired the domain - BentonWhite.com and at the same time, I purchased BentonWhiteInsurance.com.  I was getting a little 'domain crazy' because I even considered, BentonWhiteIns.com, BentonWhiteNOW.com and several others but passed on them all! 
 
Later on I came up with other types of configurations so I could be sure that when someone typed into their browser Benton & insurance, we would show up.  It's supposedly the right marketing strategy one should use.  Over time, our domain/web presence has certainly bumped us to the top of most all searches. Just type in Benton White, Benton White Insurance, Benton White - Tennessee, Benton White - Brentwood or any other combinations of those words into GOOGLE or BING, you'll quickly see us at #1.  In this day and internet age, it takes time to earn those positions because these two search engines, along with many others, work very hard to make sure a searched business is valid, credible and long-lasting.  Thankfully, we have been all three in our favor over these many years!
 
That leads me to my latest domain acquisition - a new way for you to find us if you are so inclined.  The internet world just released some new domains in the last couple of weeks which in laymen's terms means the extension after the (.) dot are new.  The moment I saw .insure and .claims, I immediately acquired them for the agency.  If you type into your browser, bentonwhite.insure or bentonwhite.claims, take a look at what you'll find!  Pretty nifty huh!??
 
Admittedly, I'm not just an insurance guy, I'm a marketing and computing geek too!!  Therefore, these two domains were destined to be here and I'm glad we now have given you yet - two more ways to find us.  
 
Selling insurance is our life-line here!  That's a given!  So if we can be available in some way - 24/7 and offer quick, easy and convenient ways for everyone to reach us, it's another advantage we have in serving our folks like we should.  Thus the reason for this post and the news that BentonWhite.insure and BentonWhite.claims is ready for you to click to - NOW!
 
As always, thanks for reading and please let us know how we can help you, your family or friends.  Certainly, we're giving you enough options to get to us! :)
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Posted on 03/04/2016 2:34 PM by Benton White
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Tuesday, 01 March 2016
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State road crews are hustling to patch a deluge of potholes left in the wake of the recent winter storms.  Potholes are all around and they are probably more dangerous or expensive to you than you imagine. Vehicles that ram potholes can have damage that can run into the thousands.  They're also deadly!  A motorcycle rider hit a pothole in our town last week and was killed when he was thrown from his cycle. 
 
 The Tennessee Department of Transportation is using all of its available manpower to repair the damage done to interstates and state highways as quickly as it can. A TDOT spokeswoman said the weather created a "worst-case scenario" for road conditions, and crews are already being called to make emergency repairs.
 
"We had two prolonged events with not just snow, but ice as well, which cakes on the roadway and then, of course, it's a combination of freeze/thaw cycles, the chemicals that we use to get the ice and snow off the roads and then, of course, traffic," Jensen said.
  

Question:  Does my insurance cover my car if I had damage from hitting a pothole!?

Answer: In the auto insurance industry, a road hazard can be anything in or on the surface of the road dangerous to you as a driver or cause you to have an auto accident. That could be a pothole, a nail, oil, a tree, construction debris , a deer running into the roadway or myriad other foreign objects that you can hit, or that can hit you.
 
Certainly, car insurance companies want you to be a safe, defensive driver who is observant and on the lookout for dangers on the roadway that may cause damage to your vehicle and avoid these perils if possible. Your auto insurance provider knows that avoidance isn't always possible and that you may need to make a claim under your physical damage coverage if you hit a road hazard.
 
For instance, potholes aren't always seen or unavoidable, but you can easily end up with a punctured tire, misaligned steering or damage to the underside of your vehicle. Car insurance policies will cover such damages under your collision coverage if the damage is more than your collision deductible amount.
 
Whether a road hazard accident will fall under your collision or comprehensive coverage depends upon how the incident occurred.
 
If you hit a fallen tree or big rock in the road, then it's a collision claim because you collided with the object. Instead, if the tree fell on your vehicle or a boulder rolled onto the hood of your vehicle, then most auto insurers would find the accident to be a comprehensive claim.
 
Whatever the damage, if the cost of repairs is minimal, it might not be worth filing a claim with your auto insurance provider, either because it doesn't reach your deductible amount or is barely above it.
 
While comprehensive claims don't typically raise your rates, collision claims can, and either type of claim may get you surcharged by your insurer if you have accumulated several claims (of any type) within a short period of time.
 

Contact Us

At Benton White Insurance, we are always ready to help with information like this either from this blog or when you contact us by email or phone call.  Education is important and knowing these types of answers in advance might save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in deductible or other claim expenses.  EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or call any of our staff at 615.377.1212  We're here to help!

 
(a small segment of this blog post came from an article released by The Tennessean)
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Posted on 03/01/2016 1:00 PM by Benton White
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