Smartphones Are Killing Americans, But Nobody’s Counting 18-Sep-2017
Does Homeowner's Insurance Cover Your Home Based Business? 13-Sep-2017
Mobile Apps for your Convenience!
Tuesday, 08 December 2015
They're becoming more popular this year and expect these to be common place in the near future. I already have some of these devices in my home and intend to add more as we go along. The ability to control your home whether you are there or away is such a great feature and comforting too if you are away for longer than a few hours.
Below is a flow chart that will help you decide if either you or someone on your gift list might benefit from some of the latest technological developments to keep you or them safe and secure in 2016!
Safe and secure means less insurance claim deductibles not to mention loss of valuable items. We hope this will help you to become acquainted with these new items that truly could keep you or those you give these to for Christmas safer.
Let us know how we might can help you with your insurance. We're ready to earn your business. Simply contact any of our staff at info@BentonWhite.com or phone us at 615.377.1212. Hope you are enjoying the holiday season. Something special is coming to you from this blog in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned!
Posted on 12/08/2015 1:32 PM by Benton White
Thursday, 03 December 2015
This is becoming a welcomed and honorable pattern. It was announced a few days ago that J. D. Power and Associates has recognized Auto-Owners Insurance Company for "Highest in Customer Satisfaction with the Auto Insurance Claims Experience." Auto-Owners has been recognized at this level for the sixth time in the eight years this survey has been taken. This only happens as a result of hard work, a commitment to serve, and a great partnership between the company and it's insureds through the local independent agency - like all of us here at Benton White.Insurance.
From my agency, we work hard with the local claims department here in Brentwood to be sure they make initial contact quickly after a claim is filed. We strive for 24 hour or less initial contact for each claim and meet that deadline the majority of the time. That initial contact was one of the highest rated items on the Power survey that is successful.
With more people expressing frustration with service in today's fast-paced, impersonal world, we hope it is reassuring to you, our customers that we minimize confusion and problems in claims. This J.D. Power award shows that Auto-Owners company-wide makes this a goal of theirs also.
I've often said ..."we can sell insurance all day long but if we aren't there to offer high quality service after the sell, we're not worth much to our people." That's been our goal for over 37 years and the longer we do this business, the more we know it is true! Thank you for letting us serve you with prices that are competitive and service that is local and personal built around relationships with our insureds. We think this is what truly makes us different. Without you, we couldn't do it. So I say once again, "we appreciate your business!"
If we can assist you or your friends with this type of insurance environment, we're here to earn yours and their business. EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or call any of our staff at 615.377.1212
Posted on 12/03/2015 3:23 PM by Benton White
Tuesday, 01 December 2015
WASHINGTON - For 2014, the first year she got health coverage through the Affordable Care Act, Gail Galen chose a plan from a new nonprofit insurer, Oregon's Health CO-OP. But the price jumped for 2015, so Ms. Galen switched to a policy from a different company, LifeWise Health Plan.
Now, with open enrollment for 2016 underway, she is preparing to leap to her third insurer in three years - and stocking up on whiskey, she says, only half in jest, as she braces for another round of shopping on the federal insurance marketplace.
"Every year I feel like I'm starting all over again, and I just dread it," said Ms. Galen, 63, of Warrenton, Ore. "My stress level just shoots up."
Over the past two years, the Affordable Care Act has created entirely new markets for health insurance, and a new way of buying it, via online exchanges that allow comparison shopping. They have brought coverage to nine million people, many of whom could not afford it or were rejected by insurers before. But these new markets have also seen sharp price swings, or changes in policies, that are driving many consumers to switch plans each year.
The Obama administration is encouraging switching as a way to avoid steep increases in premiums - and to promote competition among insurers, as the law intends. Next year will be no different: The price of plans will rise in most states, and the administration says that 86 percent of people who currently have coverage through the federal exchange can find a better deal by switching.
"This may be just one of those environments where there's a new normal," said Sabrina Corlette, a professor at the Health Policy Institute of Georgetown University.
For many consumers, the volatility in the markets has been a source of anxiety and disruption. To have any choice at all is a welcome development, many say. But switching plans is also becoming an unwelcome ritual, akin to filing taxes, that is time-consuming and can entail searching for new doctors and hospitals each year.
"I don't have a regular doctor anymore, so I avoid going," said David Saphier, a self-employed technology consultant in Manhattan who will be switching to his third exchange plan for 2016.
Some experts have raised concerns that frequently switching doctors could result in worse health care, though carefully controlled research on the issue is sparse.
Dr. Joseph Ladapo, a physician and health policy researcher at New York University School of Medicine, said it could be problematic in part because new providers often cannot get a patient's old medical records. Doctors also may feel less invested in the health of patients they believe are with them only for the short term, he added.
"It's going to be a challenging issue to really parse out," Dr. Ladapo said. "But it's a very important one, and in general, any breaks in continuity that happen as a result of these narrowing networks or plan changes are probably not in the best interest of patients."
The annual changes in plans and prices are a result of the many unknowns in the new markets. Insurers are changing their pricing, often significantly, year to year as they struggle to figure out how healthy or sick their new customers are. In some cases, insurers tried to get a foothold in the market with unsustainable low prices that they now must raise.
An additional factor for 2016 is the closing of a dozen nonprofit cooperative insurers that had more than 500,000 customers around the country. Those consumers will have no choice but to find a new plan, as will others whose insurers are leaving the exchange markets because they were losing too much money.
In Nashville, Alyssa Bernhardt learned recently that her plan from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee would rise to $115 a month even after her federal subsidy, from $45. She logged onto HealthCare.gov last week and found a comparable plan that will cost only $40 a month. She has switched plans every year since the exchanges opened, though she has managed to stay with Blue Cross Blue Shield all along.
"It's so confusing," said Ms. Bernhardt, 28, a graduate student and part-time consultant. "It would be a lot easier if I could just renew the same plan."
Last year, many people did just that, taking no action and letting their coverage automatically renew for 2015. Still, about half of returning HealthCare.gov customers at least shopped around before settling on a health plan, and about 25 percent switched - far more than many experts predicted. Those who switched insurers but kept the same level of coverage ended up saving about $490 over the course of the year in premium costs, according to a report by the Department of Health and Human Services.
As much as they dislike switching plans, people like Ms. Galen, who has a history of skin cancer, say it is far preferable to what they faced before the health law took effect. Then, many people with medical conditions could not get insurance or had to pay much more for it, and they clung to whatever coverage they could get because if they tried to switch to a different insurer, they would most likely be rejected.
Mary Stuart, 64, of Omaha, has already switched to Assurant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, and so far has been able to keep her doctors. Now Assurant is leaving the exchange market, and Ms. Stuart is intent on finding a new plan that will cover the ophthalmologist who treats her macular degeneration, a serious eye disease.
"I'm like, oh God, here we go again," said Ms. Stuart, who does not receive a premium subsidy and pays $890 a month for her current plan.
On the other hand, she said, "With my medical issues, to get with another insurer pre-Obamacare would have been really hard. So even though I'm bouncing and bouncing around, in some respects the current situation is so much better."
If Ms. Stuart has a Zen-like approach to the shop-and-switch routine, Ramon Cinco, a middle school teacher in Houston, said he is approaching it "in panic mode." He is switching plans not to get a better deal, but because his current plan with Cigna, which allows his family to see any doctor without a referral, is being discontinued.
Mr. Cinco, 43, switched to Cigna this year after being frustrated with his 2014 plan from Aetna, which he said had too narrow a provider network to be useful. Now, he said, he is likely to switch back to Aetna for 2016, to a plan that seems to have a narrower network of hospitals than he has access to now.
"I wasn't expecting to make a switch for 2016," Mr. Cinco said. "I'm very happy and pleased with my plan, and this came as a big shock."
As for Ms. Galen, her insurer, LifeWise, is discontinuing her current plan and offering her a similar one with premiums that are 38 percent higher over all. She will get a bigger subsidy next year because of rising rates in her state, so her share of the premium would increase by only $27 a month. But she would also face higher out-of-pocket costs for visiting the doctor, and a higher out-of-pocket limit. And the new plan does not appear to cover her current doctors, she said.
That leaves her with more than a dozen choices from six insurers, which she has begun researching. She wants to make sure she can stick with the dermatologist she has been visiting since her skin cancer diagnosis.
"It's a constant, background nagging feeling of a chore undone," she wrote in an email last week. "And still, it's a huge improvement over the old days! I didn't have to shop at all then; I was stuck with the same rip-off, narrow policy."
We are spending a considerable amount of time this enrollment season trying to help our insureds find their way through all of the healthcare insurance challenges. It is complicated and it takes a considerable amount of the insureds time to get resolution for their healthcare needs. Most often, the conversation leads to matching premiums that have risen considerably vs. coverage's that the insured can receive for the premium spent. It's challenging!
If we can help you with your insurance, please let us know. We write all types of insurance and will work to find you the best pricing for the best coverage's out here. Contact any of our staff at info@BentonWhite.com or call us at 615.377.1212. We appreciate the opportunity to earn your business!
[Portions of this article comes from an ONLINE POST from The New York Times - November 18, 2015 written by Abby Goodnough: "Shopping for Health Insurance Is New Seasonal Stress for Many"]
Posted on 12/01/2015 3:16 PM by Benton White
Tuesday, 24 November 2015
Today and everyday! This week and every week, we are grateful for so many things, including great relationships with family, friends, business acquaintances and many wonderful customers! Let's take a much needed break this week and remember how truly blessed we are!
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise! Give thanks to him and bless His name!
Psalm 100:4 (NASB)
Benton P. White
Posted on 11/24/2015 1:40 PM by Benton White
Tuesday, 17 November 2015
This upcoming holiday season, relationship statuses will be upgraded to "engaged". Did you know engagement season spans from Thanksgiving to New Years? A sparkly ring can create many new decisions - one of which how do you insure your wedding. Many people forget about this issue with a long list of "to-do's" before you say "I do!"
We offer The Wedding Protector Plan® It is private event insurance which may protect against financial loss from unavoidable mishaps. Putting an inexpensive policy like The Wedding Protector at Benton White Insurance in force should be implemented as soon as contracts are signed and deposits are paid. Policies can be issued up to two years in advance of the big day! And the premiums? They are amazingly inexpensive for the coverage offered.
The coverage's listed below are all available on a single policy and can be purchased with increasing limits of coverage.
The Wedding Protector Plan® can cover:
Total Cost of a Wedding Protector Plan® Policy
We're here to help! THANKS for reading our blog and let us know how we can better assist you with a program like The Wedding Protector or some other insurance need you may have! EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or call us at 615.377.1212. We're always ready to earn your business!
Posted on 11/17/2015 11:15 AM by Benton White
Friday, 13 November 2015
Personal data was stolen from 100 million Americans this year in cyber-attacks and thefts from retailers, banks and hospitals. Many of them will become victims of identity theft. While the financial hit to people and companies is real, the emotional impact can be "life-altering," says Terrell McSweeny, a member of the Federal Trade Commission.
"It's essential to remember that there is a human face on each of these ID crimes," he said, speaking at Google Inc.'s offices in Washington, D.C.
Depending on the information that's stolen, problems go well beyond canceling a stolen card or changing a PIN. Criminals file false tax returns or misuse identities to get cellphone service, open utility accounts and obtain prescription drugs. Some victims have had their names wrongly invoked in arrest reports and court records of other people's crimes. Victims say the violation brings with it anger, anxiety, sadness, shame and even suicidal thoughts.
While theft of credit card information remains the most common type of cyber fraud, medical identity theft is growing. It can result in victims being billed for medical services and prescriptions they didn't receive, or finding another person's health information in their medical records. Consequently, they can be denied health benefits or insurance.
At Benton White Insurance, we can insure you for the problems you could face with Identity Theft. Our endorsement to your home, condo or renters policy includes:
Also included from most insurance companies is reimbursement for the expenses you can incur in your resolution efforts. These can include:
There are many other advantages and reimbursements included that are too lengthy to mention here. The cost to add this coverage to your policy is an amazing $25.00 per year for all of what I've mentioned above and much more!
We can help! Identity Theft is a growing problem and we are ready to make sure you have the coverage with us or add it if you don't have it. Contact us by EMAIL at info@BentonWhite.com or call our staff at 615.377.1212. Identity Theft is real! Can any of us afford NOT to have this inexpensive coverage option on our policies?
Posted on 11/13/2015 10:18 AM by Benton White
Tuesday, 10 November 2015
I often say: "We're in the business to pay claims" and we pay many. When I began in this business in 1978, I chose this segment of the insurance business because I liked the opportunity of helping people solve their problems in a real way with insurance when they would have a claim. Paying claims is one of the primary joys of what I/we do.
This fall season always has its claims challenges and I thought I would outline 8 of the most consistent claims we file on behalf of our insureds at this time of year. A little prevention might help you not to have one and face deductible expenses if you have to file one of these claims.
Fire & Smoke Damage
Just like summer means more grill-related fires, in the fall more time is spent indoors and fireplaces, wood stoves and candles become the culprits. According to Ready.gov, more than 2,500 people lose their lives in house fires each year, and another 12,600 are injured. Property losses from these fires total more than $7.3 billion annually, and many homeowners fail to understand that the time from a small flame to a home being fully-engulfed can be mere seconds.
To reduce the likelihood of fire:
Water & Freezing Damage
Water damage is the most common type of loss reported, according to Xactware. The firm received 1.2 million water damage estimates in 2014, and the average estimate totaled $6,089.
Freezing pipes and water damage account for an average of 20% in 4th QTR. claims. Burst pipes, dishwashers, water heaters, ice makers, water supply lines and toilet valves are frequent sources of water damage. Turning the main water valve off when leaving a home for several days can reduce the risk.
Home robberies increase about 7% in the summer but there is an even bigger increase when the weather turns cooler. There is statistical evidence that the number jumps to 25% in the latter part of the year. Smart homeowners keep lights on a timer and use motion detectors for outdoor lights. Today's home apps let owners monitor remotely to see who is coming and going. Valuables should be stored in either a fireproof safe or a safety deposit box.
Approximately 25% of the year's auto theft claims occur during the fourth quarter. The Insurance Information Institute found that over $4 billion worth of auto thefts were reported in 2013. Cars full of gifts and other items can be tempting to thieves. Taking some preventative actions can reduce the chances that you'll be the victim of a theft.
Snow & Ice
34% of all skidding and snow claims occur between October and December. Before cold weather hits, check the tread on tires and make sure they are properly inflated. Decrease speeds on wet, icy or leaf-covered roads. During winter months, keep the gas tank at least half full since getting stuck in snow traffic can burn fuel quickly. Also check the battery, windshield wipers, anti-freeze and wiper fluid levels. Consider leaving a shovel, blanket and some non-perishable snacks in the car in case of a breakdown.
Parking Lot Claims
With the holidays just a few weeks away, shoppers are flocking to malls and shopping centers in greater numbers. This means more drivers and an increase in parking lot-related claims. Damage from shopping carts, car thefts and tight parking spaces are just a few of the hazards. On average, 25% of parking lot-related claims occur between now and the end of the year.
Rear End Collisions
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), there are approximately 1.7 million rear-end collisions in the U.S. each year. During the fourth quarter, most of those types of claims occur and 87% of them are caused by drivers who aren't paying attention. It's important to put down the phone, stop adjusting the radio, and back up slowly, checking mirrors and windows multiple times for oncoming cars.
Deer are no longer confined just to country areas. As development spreads into their natural habitats, these animals can be found in highly populated areas, especially as food becomes scarcer. Hitting a large animal can be just as dangerous as hitting another car, so always wear a seatbelt. Animals tend to be more active at dawn and dusk, so watch for deer, raccoons, foxes and coyotes.
Hopefully, these spotlighted claims can help you avoid one. We're here to cover you if any of these occur and we do our best to make a tough situation a positive one for you. If we can help you with anything insurance, please let us know. Our staff is ready to help at 615.377.1212 or EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com. Let us EARN your business!
Posted on 11/10/2015 1:39 PM by Benton White
Friday, 06 November 2015
Parents have a lot on their parental plate. There are many items of teaching that need emphasis as children get older. But there is a thought in the media that with all of the pressing societal issues facing parents and their teens, parents are underestimating the risk that driving presents to their teenagers and often allow dangerous behavior including night-time trips and carpools, a safety group said.
Only 24% of parents identified hazardous driving or car crashes as their biggest safety concern for children ages 15-19, according to a National Safety Council survey released recently. The category of drugs and alcohol was cited by a similar share of parents. Other top concerns included bullying, Internet safety, teen pregnancy and school shootings.
The council is seeking to sharpen focus on some of the most routine dangers by addressing misconceptions about risk. The group in June highlighted that overdoses from prescription painkillers and car accidents are more likely to kill Americans than dramatic events like plane crashes and cataclysmic storms.
"The biggest threat to teens' safety is sitting in the driveway," Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and chief executive officer of the NSC, said in a statement. "The statistics have shown this for years, yet too many parents still do not appreciate that the first year of driving is a particularly deadly time in a teen's life."
Almost half of parents set the driving curfew at 10 p.m. or later, even though 40% of fatal crashes are after that hour, according to the council. The group also said that most parents who talk on a mobile phone while behind the wheel continue that behavior when teens are passengers.
In 2013, there were more than 6,600 deaths in the 15-24 age group tied to motor-vehicle mishaps, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. That's more than all non- transportation accidents combined, a group that includes poisoning from "noxious substances."
The National Safety Council is a non-profit organization focused on reducing risks in the workplace, on the roads and in homes. The group released the report in observance of National Teen Driver Safety Week last month.
The review was conducted for the council in September by Irwin Broh Research using an online consumer panel. There were 1,010 completed responses, and the sample was balanced by gender, geographic region and ethnicity, according to the NSC.
Teen vehicle safety contributes to us having less auto insurance premiums for both parents and teens. We monitor our youthful drivers and do all that we can to educate newly licensed drivers the rules of the road as it pertains to insurance. We're here to help you! Contact any of our staff at 615.377.1212 or EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com. Our teen driver insurance rates are competitive and if you or your teen has a tough driving history, we can insure them too! Let us know if we can help!
Portions of this article are taken from a PropertyCasualty360 article - Parents focused on drugs, bullying overlook risk of car crashes by Christie Boyden with BLOOMBERG
Posted on 11/06/2015 11:56 AM by Benton White
Tuesday, 03 November 2015
Deer-vehicle collisions are three times more likely to occur on a day in November than they are on any day between Feb. 1 and Aug. 31. October is the second most likely month for a crash involving a deer and a vehicle. December is third. Collisions with deer and other large animals can cause significant damage to vehicles, injuries to the driver and passengers and suffering to the animal.
Here are some proactive driving tips to help you avoid hitting a large animal and to limit or avoid damage to your vehicle:
Here is a document that will give you more in-depth detail with important information for you and your family!
This is not a subject that any of us should take lightly. We get numerous claims each year from deer accidents. And as bad as it may sound, I always suggest: if you can't avoid the deer and are about to have an accident, HIT THE DEER or ANIMAL! Statistically, a much worse, more injury prone accident occurs when a driver makes an effort to avoid the animal. Often times, they go off of the road and hit an embankment or tree and the accident is much worse than just colliding with the deer!
It's November and this is the prime deer accident month. Be aware and heed the advice above to help you avoid what many won't - a collision with an animal that will cost you trouble, time and money!
Posted on 11/03/2015 1:40 PM by Benton White
Thursday, 29 October 2015
We have been getting calls from some of our customers asking us about insurance they would need if they choose to rent their property as a short term rental. They would consider the AirBNB or VRBO model and wanted to be sure their current homeowners insurance would cover them. Simply put - it won't!
The standard homeowners policy is for the homeowner who has a place where they reside and occupy the premises. It's not designed for business usage for rental - much less short term rentals. There are very few policies in the market as of now that will cover those type of exposures. If we were able to insure it, there would have to be an industry change in the insurance forms used to define coverage or move the policy to a commercial one. That's why we are seeing some of the rental agencies themselves, like the above mentioned, coming to the table with more coverage for their types of risks.
In the last few days, AirBNB announced that it has given its Home Protection Insurance program a makeover, beefing up its liability insurance coverage in an effort to attract new hosts to the short-term rental service.
Airbnb said that its insurance program, which offers up to $1 million in liability protection, has been upgraded from secondary insurance to a primary program and made it available to nearly 1 million hosts in 16 countries, regardless of other insurance coverage the host may already carry. The expansion is expected to persuade people who were thinking of signing up to be a host but were reluctant due to liability concerns.
"The majority of our hosts are middle-class people that use Airbnb to make ends meet, and we try to make hosting as simple and stress-free as possible for them," Jakob Kerr, a spokesman for the San Francisco-based startup, said in a statement. "This expanded version of the program will make it easier for people to host on Airbnb with peace of mind, and we believe it's a groundbreaking collaboration between Airbnb and the insurance industry."
Airbnb is just one of dozens of companies to describe itself as part of the sharing economy, the idea of using the Internet to create person-to-person marketplaces. Some services let people swap bicycles, tools and musical instruments. Others, like Airbnb, let people sublet their rooms, or their entire homes when they're not around.
Consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers estimates that global revenue across all sharing-economy companies, which is roughly $15 billion today, will increase to around $335 billion by 2025. While such companies promise convenience or an easy way to make a buck, they also raise concerns about various local issues, including insurance.
The issue came to prominence a year ago when San Francisco passed a so-called Airbnb law, which allows people to rent their rooms or homes for up to 90 days per calendar year. The law requires, among other things, that hosts carry at least $500,000 in liability insurance, a tricky situation as many homeowner's and renter's insurance policies don't tend to cover business activities in the home.
"Some insurance companies may provide coverage if you occasionally rent out a room, but making all or part of your home available for regular rental likely would be considered business use," the Oregon Insurance Division warns in an advisory page that mentions Airbnb by name. "Homeowner policies generally do not provide coverage for business use."
Airbnb's insurance program provides up to $1 million in coverage if a guest is accidentally injured on a host's property or surrounding area. It may also cover other costly situations in which a guest accidentally causes damage to surrounding property, such as a water leak in a host's apartment causing damage to a neighboring apartment.
Airbnb hosts don't need to do anything to become part of the program. The Host Protection Insurance program covers hosts' bookings as long as they are in one of the countries included in the program.
The program, which launched in the US in January, now covers hosts in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, Spain and the United Kingdom.
If this type of market exists, companies like VRBO an AirBNB almost had to make this provision a part of their agreement. The general insurance company arena hasn't shown a fondness to this type of risk as of now. Will they later? Possibly! Demand will determine it.
Let us know how we can help you with any insurance you may have. We're in the business to EARN your business - give us a shot for any other coverage you may need. Contact any of our staff at 615.377.1212 or EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com.
[Portions of this article taken from a C/Net article - dated October 22, 2015: Airbnb beefs up liability insurance offering for hosts written by Steven Musil]
Posted on 10/29/2015 11:35 AM by Benton White
Tuesday, 27 October 2015
A confession: I get upset and sometimes very angry at what other drivers do when I'm driving on the road. And sometime, I inadvertently do something that makes other drivers angry at me! The question is, how do we contain that anger and how far do we take it to retaliate or strike back! That's what has to change!
A few weeks back, a driver came upon my vehicle on a Saturday when my wife and I were out enjoying our day. This vehicle was moving at a high rate of speed and swerved in front of me to make a turn! I immediately hit the horn and my temperature level rose mainly because I felt a sense of danger for us both. How dare that person do that and WHY? Once I stopped honking my loud horn, my wife kindly spoke: "Honey, these are different times and if you don't stop doing that, someone is either going to pull a gun and shoot at us or stop at a red light and come back and attack! You need to consider this in this new world we live in where so many people carry guns and use them for incidents such as this!" She got my attention!
Unfortunately, ROAD RAGE is much more prevalent in our society and it seems to be on the increase with a higher reporting of incidents that are deadly in some cases. Take the drive-by shooting that occurred last week that killed 4 year old Lilly Garcia in Alburquerque, NM. Lily and her brother were in their father's truck after being picked up from school when police say another car forced the vehicle out of its lane. The father gestured toward the other driver and swore at him. The man in the other car opened fire, hitting little Lilly in the head. She was pronounced dead a short time later. The other driver had a conviction for this same type of incident in the past.
This is one of many tragic incidents that has been reported but this made national news because of the age of this innocent child.
Eight out of 10 drivers surveyed in the AAA Foundation's annual Traffic Safety Culture Index rank aggressive driving as a "serious" or "extremely serious" risk that jeopardizes driver and passenger safety. Aggressive driving accounts for more than half of all traffic fatalities.
Although "road rage" incidents provide some of the most shocking views of aggressive driving, many common behaviors, including racing, tailgating, failing to observe signs and regulations, and seeking confrontations with other drivers, all qualify as potentially aggressive behaviors. Speeding is one of the most prevalent aggressive behaviors. AAA Foundation studies show that speeding is a factor in one-third of all fatal crashes.
Despite a strong public awareness and understanding of aggressive driving, many people are willing to excuse aggressive behaviors. But now, some of those aggressive behaviors are having deadly consequences.
After my incident above and from what I read about the lack of tolerance and destructive action taken by drivers, I've made some changes in my attitude and behavior when I drive. How important is it for me to make a point that could back-fire and cause me or my family MUCH MORE HARM than the little incident that upset me in the moment?? We're in a sad place with intolerance and lack of patience in our country which certainly includes driving on our highways. Maybe my experience can help you to be more 'patient' as you drive your vehicle! The patience you exhibit could save your life and others.
Posted on 10/27/2015 2:40 PM by Benton White
Thursday, 22 October 2015
Many don't know that I've been developing websites for more than 18 years. I learned website code as a hobby and created a company many years back at the infancy of internet & website activity to help other insurance agencies around the country get their internet website and email marketing created. It's been challenging, fun and enjoyable but the most beneficial part to me is that I have met some incredibly talented people - much more artistic and creative than I - who know how to develop websites. I now contract them to do all of my website work including our agency website.
The primary advantage of these years of experience in this work for my insurance customers is that we have had many website fine tuning stages over the years so that I can bring you the best of the best for my own - Benton White Insurance website. Have you visited www.BentonWhite.com lately? It truly is the ONE PLACE where you can GET IT ALL as it pertains to what we do for you with insurance.
..... and that just gets you started. We have developed and re-developed this site over time and I venture to say, you won't find another insurance website that is easier to navigate and offers more information than the Benton White Insurance website!
One of the most up-to-date features is that you can get the full site on any computer of any size you use. Phone, tablet, laptop, desktop or stone-tablet (just kidding!) will offer you the full site advantages you would get on your desktop. We've developed this so that the ease of use is in your favor. But that's enough from me! You'll only know if you test it out for yourself. Visit us today or any day and find out what thousands are finding out daily - this is the One Place to Get it all.
Posted on 10/22/2015 10:49 AM by Benton White
Tuesday, 20 October 2015
The year 2016 will send shockwaves to about 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries, or roughly 7 million Americans. They're going to be paying a lot more for their monthly Medicare Part B premium.
Individuals affected will see their monthly premiums rise from about $104.90 to $159.30, and $318.60 for married couples. Those whose income exceeds the threshold, as defined by individuals making more than $214,000 or couples making more than $428,000 per year, the projected increase is anywhere from $223 per month up to $509.80 per month. For high-earning married couples, their premiums can increase from $446 to $1,019.60 per month.
It all has to do with a legal provision that addresses cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security benefits, and the fact that there won't be an adjustment next year. Unless there is action by Congress or the Department of Health and Human Services, the premium increases will go into effect in 2016. A bill to block the premium spikes was recently introduced, but the outcome is pending.
Here's what you need to know. The premiums will affect:
- New enrollees in 2016
- Enrollees who don't collect Social Security yet
- Enrollees with high incomes (individuals earning $85,000 or married couples bringing in $170,000)
- Dual Medicare-Medicaid beneficiaries
If you're part of this group, you'll want to do some extra planning.
Those who have deferred claiming Social Security, and who enroll in Part B for the first time in 2016, may want to consider enrolling earlier if they're already 65 and eligible. Individuals can avoid higher premiums if they start receiving their Social Security benefits, and have their premiums deducted, in November and December 2015.
If you are already on Medicare, or could apply immediately, and you were going to start Social Security benefits in the next year or so, and you are not subject to a high income threshold, some financial advisers say you should consider applying for both of those benefits rights now. By filing earlier and receiving both your Social Security benefits and Medicare by the end of 2015, you'll fall into the group that will be exempt from the premium increase. Generally filing a month in advance is sufficient.
For those who have higher incomes, consider if you've had a life-changing event, such as a job loss, marriage, divorce, or death of a spouse, that has put you in a lower income bracket. You could qualify for an exemption based on these events.
You should speak to your financial adviser and if you need a referral, we have someone we can refer you to here at Benton White Insurance. You could also reach a representative from the Social Security Administration for various options that may be available to you, so you can maximize your future Social Security payments.
As I have said many times this year, healthcare is in a state of major transition and this is just another domino falling as a result of the changes. Having all medical history and ailments covered under a national health insurance plan is a great benefit to all of us but we're all now paying much higher premiums for that privilege. There isn't a premium rate ceiling in place yet and we've seen nothing in the short or long term that will control these price variances. Stay tuned!
If we can help you with insurance of any type, we are ready to earn your business! Let us know how we can help! Reach us by email at info@BentonWhite.com or call any of our staff at 615.377.1212.
[Portions of this article taken from an online release from CNBC.com - "Bad news for some Medicare beneficiaries" by Sharon Epperson & Judy Gee]
Posted on 10/20/2015 11:50 AM by Benton White
Thursday, 15 October 2015
Adjustments continue in the health insurance marketplace as we approach the annual enrollment period for national healthcare coverage. This latest change affects 27,000 Tennesseans.
Community Health Alliance will no longer offer insurance coverage next year, forcing about 27,000 Tennesseans to find new health care plans.
The alliance, created under the Affordable Care Act as a health cooperative, will continue to pay out existing claims but will wind down its coverage by not taking on new customers.
The decision was based on the alliance's financial condition, according to the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.
Policyholders will keep their insurance coverage through 2015 as long as premiums are paid. They must re-enroll in a new health care plan during the Open Enrollment period, which begins Nov. 1. To receive coverage in 2016, consumers must enroll by Dec. 15, according to the department.
"This was not a decision that the Department took lightly, but it was the right decision," Julie Mix McPeak, commerce and insurance commissioner, said in a statement. "With thousands of Tennesseans' coverage hanging in the balance, CHA's financial success could not be guaranteed. Ultimately, the risk of CHA's potential failure in 2016 was too great and would have caused substantial detrimental effects on the market as a whole if it were to collapse."
Without providing more detail, the department said it was concerned about a new federal program aimed at helping health insurers and new information that emerged about the alliance. New customer enrollment on the Federally Facilitated Marketplace had been stopped since January, but the alliance gained department approval for new 2016 rates in recent months.
Four carriers remain on the federal marketplace that will allow Tennessee residents to choose new plans and the department pointed them to www.Healthcare.gov to find more information on these options.
As I have told clients who are facing many changes in their healthcare, all of these company changes are a moving target to insureds. There is currently a 'tug-of-war' between Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Tennessee with some providers in this state as new contracts are negotiated. There are threats Blue Cross/Blue Shield is not offering to pay claims at some of these providers until a new contract can be negotiated.
We do our best to answer questions and offer assistance to those who need to adjust their healthcare coverage in this environment. Feel free to contact us by email at info@BentonWhite.com or call any of our staff at 615.377.1212. We write all kinds of insurance so we can get you covered. It's just one of those times in the insurance cycle when healthcare insurance isn't so easy to understand nor easy to obtain.
[Portions of this blog post taken from an October 14 article in The Tennessean written by Jamie McGee]
Posted on 10/15/2015 11:17 AM by Benton White
Tuesday, 13 October 2015
Many people in areas deluged by rains and flooding tides fed by Hurricane Joaquin are likely to be surprised to find that standard homeowners' insurance policies do not cover damage from floodwater.
Property owners seeking that kind of protection need to buy a separate flood policy, usually through the National Flood Insurance Program, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or through a few independent sellers. The federal policies pay up to $250,000 for a structure and up to $100,000 for personal possessions.
Relatively few homeowners have flood coverage. According to estimates, just 10 percent of homeowners in South Carolina, which has suffered a historic deluge, carry flood insurance, said Russ Dubisky, executive director of the industry-funded South Carolina Insurance News Service. The national average is 14 percent, based on 2014 data from the Insurance Information Institute, a trade group.
The average flood insurance premium is about $700 a year, although rates for properties in flood-prone areas can be much higher. Rates are rising because of heavy losses from major storms like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy. While flood insurance isn't mandatory, lenders typically require homeowners in high-risk areas to buy it to qualify for a mortgage.
In an attempt to get the federal flood program out of the red, Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 to eliminate big discounts for policies in high-risk areas. But last year, Congress passed another law that slowed the impact of the premium increases for many policies.
New rates that took effect April 1, however, still increased policy premiums for homeowners in flood-prone areas as much as 25 percent. And surcharges were added for all policies: $25 for owner-occupied primary homes and $250 for second homes.
Homeowners who go without coverage have little recourse in the event of a flood. Some federal disaster aid may help with grants for temporary housing and repairs for lower-income households, but assistance for most homeowners takes the form of low-interest loans that must be repaid, said Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders, a nonprofit group that advises consumers on insurance issues.
Although experiencing a flood is overwhelming, Ms. Bach advises those who have flood insurance to move as quickly to document the damage to their homes so they can file a claim promptly; flood claims generally must be filed within 60 days. Extensions are sometimes granted, she said, but it is unwise to count on that. "Get the wheels in motion," she said. "Take lots and lots of pictures, and lots and lots of notes."
Experience with other storms suggests that homeowners should not rely solely on their insurer's assessment of damage when making a claim, she said. She strongly urges homeowners to take the time to get a second opinion by hiring their own contractor to inspect the property, particularly the foundation. If the floodwater caused structural damage, that is significantly more costly to fix than soggy drywall and carpet. "Understand what the flood did to the house," she said. "You can't get to an accurate number until you know that."
Here are some questions to consider about flood insurance:
Q. What if my car is damaged by floodwater?
Generally, the "comprehensive" portion of your auto insurance policy covers flood damage. Such coverage is often optional, but many lenders require it if you borrowed money to finance the purchase of your car. Car claims are likely to be significant in South Carolina, Mr. Dubisky said. "We have seen a lot of flooded vehicles."
Q. If flooding causes a tree to fall on my home, is that damage covered by my homeowner policy?
Generally, yes, said Mr. Dubisky.
Q. Does my federal flood policy cover temporary living expenses?
No, according to the federal flood program's website. The policies also exclude coverage for damage to exterior property, like decks and patios.
Q. If I buy flood insurance, how soon can I file a claim?
Federal flood policies require a 30-day waiting period before they become effective. Independent policies may offer shorter waiting periods, but coverage and pricing may vary from federal policies. Ms. Bach said it might be worth getting an independent quote to compare with federal coverage, but try to find a knowledgeable agent who could explain the difference.
The news reports from South Carolina over the last few days have brought back memories for so many who lived through our flood in May of 2010. Little has changed as far as what is and is not covered as a result of flooding except flood insurance premiums have increased. I still think that any home/property owner has to consider flood insurance when they buy any insurance on their property. Comprehensive coverage on auto insurance aids in repair of flood damaged vehicles and most all of our insureds carry comprehensive coverage unless the car is of little value to them and they choose to cover the vehicle for liability only.
We offer flood insurance and even though the quoted section above regarding flood insurance premium indicated premiums are $700 average, we see most of our flood insurance premiums in the $350 to $500 range per year. This premium amount affords good coverage for the flood prone sections of our insureds property.
Let us help you with flood or any other type of insurance. You can contact our staff at 615.377.1212 or EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com. We're always ready to EARN your business!
(Portions of this post is taken from an article written by Ann Carrns - New York Times - "With Flood Insurance Rare, Homeowners Have Little Recourse" - released online October 7, 2015.)
Posted on 10/13/2015 1:16 PM by Benton White
Thursday, 08 October 2015
Consider this: Safe Kids Worldwide states that 77% of families do not have a fire escape plan in place! My wife and I have one! We know where we'll immediately go if the unfortunate fire engulfs our home in flames.
Would this be your family if a fire occurs tonight?
Fire can spread quickly through your home, leaving as little as two minutes to get everyone out. Two minutes - that's it! But having a family fire escape plan can help make sure your family gets out safely. Watch this video:
As I've often said, we are in the insurance education business as well as the insurance product business. We insure individuals and families so that they are protected when a tragedy occurs. If we can help you, we're always ready to earn your business. Contact our staff at info@BentonWhite.com or call us at 615.377.1212. After 37 years in this business, our goal remains the same - to protect and serve individuals and families. Let us help you!
Posted on 10/08/2015 2:35 PM by Benton White
Tuesday, 06 October 2015
ALL children deserve the chance to grow up to be whatever they can imagine. Every year, preventable injuries kill almost 1 million children here in Middle Tennessee and around the world. The vast majority of these injuries happen to children who live in poorer communities. We really shouldn't stand idly by while too many children are stripped of the opportunity to follow their dreams.
There are affordable, proven practices that are available right now that can save the life of a child. Education, stronger laws and safer environments make a difference. Many developed countries have reduced child injury deaths by 50% in the past 25 years.
From the second our babies are born, we know we will do anything within our power to protect them. Let's care for all kids like they're our own.
Spend 60 seconds reviewing this eye opening video produced by safekids.org.
It's important we give this safety subject the attention it certainly deserves. Let's do our part to help keep kids safer! At Benton White Insurance, we insure kids and their parents and we want to keep them safer and insured appropriately too!
Posted on 10/06/2015 2:22 PM by Benton White
Friday, 02 October 2015
In the event of severe damage to your home or business, having a current inventory of your possessions - including their make and model numbers - can help you get your insurance claim settled faster, verify losses for your income tax return and help you purchase the correct amount of insurance. While most people think of their home when discussing an inventory, it is important to document the contents of your home or business as well.
Here are some suggestions for getting started.
Have you thought about using your smartphone to help? Watch this: is a checklist that you could use to prepare.
We've all heard: "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!" That's what this inventory can be for you. We've seen cases in our past claim filing history of customers that were so shocked at a major loss of property caused by either a fire or tornado that their mind was blank about what they lost. Producing this inventory now could do SO MUCH to help you get through that horrible nightmare of loss if you simply could refer to this at that time.
We're here to help and we're always striving to earn your business! Thanks for letting us help you. Reach any of our staff at info@BentonWhite.com or call us at 615.377.1212.
Thanks for reading our blog and feel free to pass it along to others or post it to Facebook or Twitter. The buttons to help you do just that are above.
Posted on 10/02/2015 10:25 AM by Benton White
Tuesday, 29 September 2015
The latest insurance data show that the risk of hitting a deer with your car has not changed much from a year ago. But the cost of repairing your car, if you're unlucky enough to strike one, is on the rise. Some insurance company statistics show that the chance of a driver hitting a deer is one in 169 nationally, about the same as in 2014.
There is, however, significant regional variation. Motorists should take special care when driving through West Virginia, for instance, where the chance of hitting a deer is one in 44 drivers. Odds are also high in Montana, Iowa, Pennsylvania and South Dakota. Even though we don't have official data for this blog, our assumption is that Tennessee can't be too far behind.
The compilation of these reports originates from a company making projections for the industry as a whole based on its own claims records and uses data on state licensed-driver counts from the Federal Highway Administration. The analysis is based on claims filed from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015, in all states and the District of Columbia. Nearly 1.3 million claims were filed industry-wide. The numbers include claims from hitting elk and moose, as well as deer.
If you hit a deer, the damage to your car typically is covered under the "comprehensive" portion of your auto insurance policy. That is the part of your policy that covers fire, smoke, theft, water damage & window breakage - generally, damage caused by anything other than a collision with another car or an object (like a utility pole). You will usually have a deductible that you pay before the insurance policy pays out.
Comprehensive coverage, however, is often optional. If you have not bought such coverage for your car, you will probably pay for repairs out of pocket and that can get expensive.
The national cost per claim from hitting a deer rose 6 percent to more than $4,100 from about $3,900 in 2014. One factor in the increase is the rising costs for auto body repairs.
Here are some questions and answers about insurance and hitting deer:
â– Will filing a claim after hitting a deer raise my insurance premium?
Since deer accident claims are generally filed under your policy's comprehensive coverage, where there is usually no fault assigned, they are less likely to result in a rate increase, said Loretta Worters, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute, an industry group. But, she noted, for a deer accident to be considered a comprehensive claim, the car must have physical contact with the animal. If you, say, swerve to avoid the deer and hit a tree or another car, that would probably be filed under your policy's collision coverage, if you carry it. That could affect your rates, depending on your insurer and the number and severity of your previous claims, she said.
â– Am I more likely to hit a deer at certain times of the year?
Deer are more likely to be on the move late in the year because of breeding season, according to wildlife officials, so the risk of hitting one increases in the fall. Deer accidents typically begin rising in October, peak in November and begin dropping off after December, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Deer are also most likely to be mobile during the hours around dawn and dusk, so drivers should be alert at those times, especially in areas marked with "deer crossing" signs.
â– Are there any aids to help drivers avoid hitting deer?
Most deer strikes cause damage to the front of the car, according to recent research from the highway safety institute, and some auto manufacturers are said to be refining collision-warning systems to help alert drivers to deer. For now, though, "No current front crash prevention system that we know of is calibrated to recognize deer or other animals," as stated by Russ Rader, a spokesman for the safety institute.
As mentioned above, fall in Tennessee is high-risk deer accident time. Please be vigilant as you drive - especially in areas away from the main streets as you venture down less traveled side roads where there is a lot of trees and non-developed land. Make sure you have comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance if you're going to meet up with a deer and as I've said before (and it's restated above), if you have a choice to hit the deer or avoid the deer and hit something else, HIT THE DEER!!! That keeps your record clear of an at fault accident that would be paid under your collision coverage.
We're here to help! Let us know how we can assist you with your insurance as we strive to earn your business! Contact us by email at info@BentonWhite.com or call any of our staff at 615.377.1212. And good luck in avoiding DEER this fall!
Portions of this blog article taken from a recent New York Times report: Car Repairs From Deer Collisions Will Cost More by Ann Carrnes
Posted on 09/29/2015 2:46 PM by Benton White
Friday, 25 September 2015
We continue to find ways to make doing business with us simple and hassle-free. That's why on our Benton White Insurance website, we've created a site where you don't need an app to use it. You can log into www.BentonWhite.com and easily review our site on your desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile phone or any other web device you might have. It's easy to get to the site and even easier to navigate.
Our companies also make it easy to work with them by furnishing mobile apps you can access to get real-time information about your policy with them. Progressive Insurance offers their latest mobile app at either on App Storeâ„ or Google Play. It's another convenient way for you to have at your fingertips, the information that you need on your policy.
Here are some key features that you find with the Progressive Insurance Company FREE app and benefits it offers:
If you need anything from us, we're here and ready to help. Simply email us at info@BentonWhite.com or call any of our staff at 615.377.1212. Earning your business is our top priority!
Posted on 09/25/2015 9:55 AM by Benton White
Jennifer Smith doesn’t like the term “accident.” It implies too much chance and too little culpability. A “crash” killed her mother in 2008, she insists, when her car was broadsided by another vehicle while on her way to pick up cat food. The other driver, a 20-year-old college student, ran a red light while talking on his mobile phone, a distraction that he immediately admitted and cited as the catalyst of the fatal event. “He was remorseful,” Smith, now 43, said. “He never changed his story.” Yet in...
If you’re one of more than 38 million people working from your home in any capacity, beware: your home insurance may not provide adequate protection for your business, no matter how small. Thanks to the digital revolution, it’s never been more convenient to earn a living from your living space – but with each reward comes risk, and without the right coverage, that extra cash flow can turn from positive to negative. Unfortunately, too many at-home earners aren’t aware of the gaps in their coverage...
09/13/2017Mobile Apps for your Convenience!
Having convenience in the palm of your hand - 24/7 - is one of the big advantages of today's computer / mobile phone technology. Our companies understand this and are offering some excellent mobile apps to help you navigate your insurance portfolio you have with us. Advantages of having the mobile app readily available: Pay your bills Set up and manage automatic payments Check the Status of a claim and/or view your claim history View your insurance ID Cards View your actual policy...