You’re moving out of state — do you need new car insurance?   Leave a comment

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You’re moving out of state; it’s time to pack your bags, get your affairs in order and head off for new horizons. An additional consideration, one that sometimes isn’t top-of-mind, is car insurance. Specifically: do you need to get new car insurance when moving to a new state?

The answer is almost always “yes,” but with a major caveat.

When you move to a new state you usually have between 30-90 days to register your vehicle. Use those months to get your car insurance situation straightened out; do not do it before you move.

That is the major caveat: do not cancel your old car insurance policy before setting up your new one. Do not cancel your policy in one state and then move to another state before getting a new one. You should never drive — especially across state lines — without a car insurance policy. It is illegal, and potentially very costly if you get into an accident.

Indeed, your policy may change after you relocate even if you stay with the same provider. Your new state may have different laws and policies than your old one does, thereby adding or subtracting a few dollars from your monthly bill. You might also be commuting more (or less), which would also affect your premium. In your move you may have also acquired some new assets, including a new vehicle. Additionally, your car insurance provider might not be able to sell insurance in your new state — so it’s definitely best to check in.

When you register your vehicle in the new state must show proof of insurance. And the states must match; if you’ve moved to Florida, when you register your vehicle there you must have valid car insurance in Florida as well. Do not go to register your car without first getting your car insurance set after the move.

“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”

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Thanksgiving Waiver   Leave a comment

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While this is intended as fun and games you may actually have exclusions on your homeowners or renters policy that you are not aware of. Please give a call to discuss ways to properly protect yourself against Uncle Ralph when he chokes on the cranberry sauce or other possible crazy liability claims.

Click the Image above and print for everyone who will be eating at your house this Thanksgiving.

“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”

Fire Pit Safety   Leave a comment

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A backyard fire pit is great for family gatherings or parties with friends. It is imperative that you safely build and maintain a fire pit to avoid dangers from sparks. At the same time, every homeowner must have liability insurance to assist with payments for personal injuries. Contact your local fire department to determine if fire pits are permitted on private property. If your geographic region allows the building of fire pits, then ask about particular regulations required to comply with the law. Failure to follow your local government’s restrictions could lead to fines.

Look for a place in your backyard that is away from structures such as fences, decks and outbuildings. Choose a location away from shrubs, trees and gardens that can catch on fire due to hot sparks. Do not place a fire pit near utility lines, telephone poles or a neighbor’s property. In addition, you must build the pit in an area that is unaffected by windy weather. Concrete blocks or bricks are a standard support system for a backyard fire pit built on bare dirt or other nonflammable surface. While building the fire pit ring, make sure the support system is attached firmly to hold the metal bowl used to hold logs.

Allow the fire pit ring to sit for a few days to ensure it is safe to use before starting a fire. Begin layering logs in the metal bowl stabilized by the fire pit ring. Carefully light a match to set the starter log burning. As the fire begins, you can place a screen over the flames. It is important to keep clothing and hands away from the flames to avoid burn injuries. Wearing long oven mitts or using tongs while preparing the fire is an excellent method to avoid injury. Always have a bucket of water nearby to douse flames in an emergency such as high winds and flying sparks.

Courtesy of Wiseman Insurance Agency

“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”

Posted November 7, 2013 by leecountyinsurance in Uncategorized

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Dangers of Deep Fried Turkey   1 comment

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Lured in by the promise of moist, sweet turkey meat, the deep fryer has become an increasingly popular way to make Thanksgiving dinner.  But cooking up a Tom the Turkey in a vat of boiling oil does come with its dangers.  

In fact, the dangers could amount to a national security risk — or at least that is what Department of Homeland Security thinks. Check out the video below “How dangerous can turkey fryers be?”

(We particularly like the cool looking gear that could come in handy if exploding turkeys ever raised the threat risk to red.) 

In all seriousness, every year deep-fryer fires are responsible for five deaths, 60 injuries, the destruction of 900 homes, and more than $15-million in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association. 

We tried our own experiments too. As you can see in our video, dropping frozen turkeys into the boiling oil of deep fryers brings on giant flames of fire shooting up 10 feet in the air. Indoors these grease flames can easily catch homes on fire, cause severe burns, and, if nothing else, will ruing your Thanksgiving turkey. 

We spoke to Tommy Steen, a 28-year veteran firefighter with the Rankin County Emergency Operations Center in Brandon, Mississippi, to find out the most dangerous mistakes first-time turkey fryers commonly make. Steen, a strong advocate of the deep-fried turkey’s delicious taste, emphasizes you don’t need to be scared of frying if you know what you’re doing. “99.9% of the time you can pull this off without a problem, as long as you do it right.” 

Here are Steen’s top four “Do Not Do’s” for deep-frying turkeys. 

Don’t Deep Fry a Frozen Turkey Frozen turkeys are full of moisture, and we all know how water and hot oil don’t mix well, so make sure your turkey is completely thawed out before trying to fry it. “Depending on the size of the turkey it could take up to 3 or 4 days in your refrigerator from solid frozen to ready to go in fryer,” Steen suggests. 

Don’t Let Oil Get Too Hot When oil gets around 400-425-degrees it can catch on fire by itself. Steen says to make sure you have a thermometer and are watching the temperature very carefully. “If you see your oil smoking, it’s too hot, you need to back off, back off the heat,” Steen says. Most oils should stay around 350-degrees, but you can check the label to see what the exact temperature limit is for your oil. 

Don’t Use Too Much Oil A common, and potentially disastrous mistake people make is putting too much cooking oil in their pot. “If you overfill your pot with oil and you drop the turkey in, it’s going to spill over, and that can be almost as catastrophic as having a frozen turkey go in because you’re going to get spillage, the oil is going to run down next to the flame on the burner, which could result in a catastrophic fire,” Steen warns. To figure out how much oil you’ll need, Steen suggests putting your turkey in the empty cooking pot, filling it up with enough water to cover it, take the turkey out, and then mark the top of the water line to know how much oil your turkey will need. 

Don’t Deep-Fry Indoors If something does go wrong, the inside of your home is the last place you want flames shooting up in the air. “Don’t do this in your garage, don’t do this on your wooden deck. If you’re going to do it, do it out in your yard away from anything that’s flammable that could catch on fire. And by all means do not attempt to deep-fry a turkey with this type of cooker inside your house,” Steen pleads.

Courtesy of Foxnews.com

“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”

Homeowners Halloween Horrors   Leave a comment

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When zombies, Snookies, and Lady Gagas storm your front door this weekend, don’t fear! Your homeowners insurance will protect you from Halloween mishaps.

Halloween is all fun and games until a trick-or-treater trips, knocks over your jack-o-lantern, and sets your front porch on fire. Fortunately, most homeowners insurance policies cover these common Halloween home mishaps:

  • Tricksters damage your home. Standard homeowners policies cover vandalism, such as dents in your siding caused by eggs thrown at your home, when repair costs exceed your deductible.
  • Candles or decorations cause a fire. A fire started by a Halloween candle or a string of holiday lights will be covered. If the fire makes your home unlivable, your homeowners policy will pay your living expenses while you wait for repairs.
  • A trick-or-treater gets hurt on your property. Injuries to trick-or-treaters or your party guests are covered by the homeowner liability portion of your policy. The injured person files a claim with your insurer.
  • You crash your car into a telephone pole to avoid hitting a trick-or-treater in your driveway. That accident would be covered by the collision portion of your auto insurance (if you have it). If you hurt anyone, the liability portion of your auto insurance would cover the cost of their treatment.

If everything on this list of Halloween home horrors occurred, your umbrella insurance would kick in to cover costs — if you have it.

To make your property safe for Halloween, the Insurance Information Institute has these recommendations:

  • Pick up anything in your front yard, sidewalk, stoop, or porch that a person could trip over.
  • Turn on your outdoor lighting so kids can see where they’re going.
  • Use battery-powered lights in your jack-o-lanterns.
  • Don’t put matches, lighters, or candles in places children can reach.
  • Pets, candles, and trick-or-treaters don’t mix. Keep pets away from the front door on Halloween.
  • Look for safety certifications, such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories), on your decorative lights.

Courtesy Houselogic.com

“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”

Posted October 30, 2013 by leecountyinsurance in Uncategorized

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Halloween Waiver for Trick-or-Treaters   Leave a comment

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Halloween Trick-Or-Treat Liability and Indemnification Agreement

_____________________ (hereinafter referred to as “Trick-Or-Treater”) agrees not to sue, harass, or
trick ____________________ (hereinafter referred to as “Benefactor”) for providing free, delicious
Halloween treats.

Trick-Or-Treater acknowledges and understands that no warranty, either expressed or implied, is
made by Benefactor as to the nutritional content of the goody. This document is offered in order to
duly warn Trick-Or-Treater that unforeseeable risks of harm may lurk in the Tootsie Rolls, Pop Rocks,
Blow Pops, Baby Ruths, chewing gum, Butterfingers, caramel apples, and any or all other
comestibles that may be offered.

Trick-Or-Treater is hereby informed that Benefactor’s snacks may contain any or all of the following:
calories, carbohydrates, sodium (salt), fat, peanuts, sugar, and marshmallow goo.
Trick-Or-Treater acknowledges that overeating may incur risks including, but not limited to, ruining
dinner, tummy aches, nougat stuck in teeth, sticky fingers, and chocolate-stained clothes.
Trick-Or-Treater hereby holds harmless Benefactor from all liability for personal injury suffered by
Trick-Or-Treater — which may be caused, in whole or in part, by any element or agent of Benefactor’s
candies. Trick-Or-Treater agrees that neither he/she, nor his/her parents, little league coaches, or
piano teachers will sue Benefactor or his/her agents for any injury that Trick-Or-Treater suffers, in
whole or in part, from consuming edibles collected from Benefactor’s premises.

This indemnification includes an agreement not to haul Benefactor into court on the basis of:

1) Failure to warn of potential for overeating because candy tastes too good and is provided at no
cost;
2) Failure to provide nutritional information or adequate educational information on exercise options;
3) Failure to state that candy corn is not really corn;
4) Failure to warn the lactose intolerant away from milk duds;
5) Failure to offer “healthier alternatives,” “organic alternatives,” or “lame treats no kid wants”; and
6) Failure to provide information about other venues offering alternative, “healthier” Halloween
goodies.

TRICK-OR-TREATER INDEMNIFIES AND RELEASES BENEFACTOR FROM ALL LIABILITY. TRICK-ORTREATER
HAS READ THIS DOCUMENT AND UNDERSTANDS IT. HE/SHE IS SIGNING IT FREELY AND
VOLUNTARILY AND WITHOUT DURESS, AND AGREES NOT TO APPEAR AS A WITNESS IN SUPPORT OF
JOHN “SUE HAPPY” BANZHAF, ESQ., OR ANY OTHER PERSONS WITH LAW DEGREES WHO
CANNOT OTHERWISE FIND MEANINGFUL EMPLOYMENT, AT ANY TIME IN THE FUTURE.

TRICK-OR-TREATER: ___________________________ DATE:______________________
BENEFACTOR: _____________________________
WITNESS: ___________________________ WITNESS: _________________________________

Posted October 24, 2013 by leecountyinsurance in Uncategorized

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Pumpkin Safety   Leave a comment

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Safety is key when you’re pumpkin carving with the kids for Halloween. These tips from Pumpkin Masters will help!
When you’re carving pumpkins, having fun is key — but the most important thing to remember is safety, especially with kids. After all, you want to carve the pumpkin, not yourself!
Here are five safety tips to ensure a safe — and fun — pumpkin-carving session with the little ones.

1. Create a safe workspace.
Set out your carving materials on a well-lit, dry surface. Make sure everyone has the tools they need right in front them, and that kids can reach the space easily.

2. Choose the right tools.
Using household kitchen knives can be dangerous, especially for children, so we recommend carving tools specifically designed for kids, which has a larger handle that makes it easier for little hands to grip and maintain control.

3. Point the blade away.
No matter which carving tool you’re using, point the blade away from you as you carve. If your hand slips, you’re less likely to get hurt.

4. Saw, don’t slice.
Instead of using a sweeping movement, like slicing, try gently sawing through the pumpkin as you carve. Go as slowly as you need to avoid slipping.

5. Watch your hands — and others’!
Be mindful of where everyone’s free hands are when carving. Whether you’re carving yourself or you’re holding a pumpkin for someone else, keep one hand on top of the pumpkin instead of on the side. That way it’s within sight, which will decrease the risk of poking or slicing through the pumpkin — and into someone’s hand.

6. Illumination:
Small battery powered LED lights are much safer than traditional candles. They won’t burn you or your pumpkin.

“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”

Posted October 17, 2013 by leecountyinsurance in General Info

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IS YOUR BUSINESS IN GOOD STANDING WITH THE STATE?   Leave a comment

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Every corporation and limited liability company (LLC) in Florida is required to file an annual report with the Florida Department of State.  Annual reports are due to the state by May 1st of each year.  For 2013, this requirement applies to businesses formed in 2012 or earlier; new businesses that were formed in 2013 do not have to file their first Annual Report until 2014.

If your business is organized as either a corporation or LLC and you did not file your Annual Report this year, your business entity was dissolved by the state in September and your company is no longer in “active status.”

If your business entity is dissolved and the company’s officers hold exemptions from workers’ compensation insurance, the state can revoke the exemption(s). If your company remains dissolved for over a year, the state will no longer protect your corporate name, and it will become available for other businesses to use.

If your company was dissolved because you did not file the Annual Report for 2013, you can restore your company’s active status with the state by filing a Reinstatement Application and paying the appropriate reinstatement fees.  The Reinstatement Application is only available online from the Division of Corporations’ website at www.sunbiz.org. Click on the box that says “File a Reinstatement Here!”  Or, you can click on the box that says “Get Online Reinstatement Filing Instructions” if you want to see the instructions for filling out the form.

The form is very similar to the annual report form.  Once it is filed, the reinstatement will be retroactive to the date your company was dissolved, as if the dissolution never happened.

For corporations (except nonprofits), the fee to be reinstated is $750 if the Reinstatement Application is filed on or before December 31st.  If the reinstatement is submitted on or after January 1, 2014, the fee goes up to $900. 

For LLC’s, the amount is $238.75 if the Reinstatement Application is filed on or before December 31st.  Starting January 1st, the fee goes up to $377.50. 

If you can’t remember whether you filed your company’s Annual Report for 2013, you can check your company’s status by visiting the Division of Corporations’ website at www.sunbiz.org.  Click on “Search Our Records” on the left-hand side of the screen, then click on “Inquire by Name.”  Enter the name of your company, and the system will find your information.  

“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”

Posted October 4, 2013 by leecountyinsurance in Uncategorized

I had an accident but I didn’t get a ticket so the other guy is at fault, Right?   Leave a comment

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Florida is a “Comparative negligence” State

Florida uses a form of comparative negligence (or your percentage of fault compared to the other party’s). This allows you to seek compensation even if you’re deemed only partially at fault. Since Florida uses comparative negligence, you can seek damages in proportion to your degree of responsibility for the crash.

For example, if a speeding driver rear-ends you after you suddenly changed lanes, it may be determined that both of you bear a degree of fault. If the other driver is found to be 60 percent responsible and you’re held 40 percent responsible, you may seek up to 60 percent of the settlement from the other driver’s insurer.

What “At Fault” Means 

It should come as no surprise that “at fault” literally means the person that caused the accident, or the one whose fault it is. Basically a person that is considered the catalyst for the accident is most likely to be considered “at fault”. There are other classifications of accidents, such as “no fault” and “partial fault”. Often times it can be difficult to ascertain who is at fault, and liability will be assessed to both drivers. In most cases, the person considered at fault will be the one that has performed an illegal, reckless, careless or irresponsible action while driving their vehicle, thus causing other vehicles to react to their actions, resulting in an accident.

What are the Ramifications of “At Fault”? 

Drivers that are considered at fault will find their insurance rates will increase, especially if there has been considerable damage to other vehicles. In addition, some insurance providers will drop drivers if they have too many at fault accidents. Furthermore, negligent drivers may be forced to pay for medical expenses, adding even more cost to their insurance companies. This can be particularly devastating if several cars, and multiple people, are involved. Property damage can also be tacked on to this as well. Insurance rates are not the only ramification of being at fault for an auto accident. Florida will assign points for every incident on driver’s licenses if you get into too many accidents, which in turn can further raise insurance rates.

What to do after an accident.

Get information from all of the vehicles involved. Get the other drivers names, addresses, and telephone numbers. Record the makes and models of the other vehicles, their insurance company information, and their vehicle identification number. The more information that you can get the better but, the mentioned information is a must. Do not ever try to handle the accident without your insurance company. In other words, do not ever let another driver talk you into handling the situation amongst yourselves. Even if they admit guilt of the accident and tell you that they would rather not have insurance companies involved for fear of future insurance rates going up, don’t go for it. Even if the person seems like the nicest person in the world, don’t make this mistake. There have been many cases where this has happened, then a few days later the innocent driver who was not at fault is informed that the other driver is suing them. Suddenly that other driver does not believe that the accident was their fault anymore and reported the accident to their insurance company. This kind of situation will leave you in a bad situation so do not fall for something like this no matter what! 

You will then want to contact your insurance company right away and let them know what happened. Give them all the details of the accident and let them know that the accident was not your fault. If you can call them while the police are present it may be even better as the police may be able to give them information that you can’t.

“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”

The 5 Biggest Lies Told to Car Insurance Companies   Leave a comment

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Fudging on your car insurance application to save on the premium may seem like a harmless white lie, but it can spell trouble for you down the road.

A new report by Quality Planning Corp. in San Francisco says car insurance companies lost $15.9 billion in 2008 from what it calls “premium leakage” — meaning loss of revenue due to the inability of insurers to keep track of changes in customers’ situations that affect prices. The number represents almost 10 percent of the total $167 billion in personal auto premium written.

“It’s a major problem, and some companies are taking it very seriously,” says Quality Planning senior vice president Bob U’Ren. His company designs solutions for insurers to validate policyholder information and cut premium losses. In other words, they’re in the business of making sure you’re telling the truth.

Here are the most common misrepresentations customers make to their car insurance companies.

1. Under-estimating the number of miles driven

Whether out of ignorance or as a strategy to cut their premiums, many people lowball the number of miles they drive. Some simply forget to call their car insurance agents when they get new jobs that lengthen their commutes. This lie was the most misrepresented rating factor in 2008 and accounted for an industry loss of more than $3 billion

2. “Forgetting” to report all the drivers in the household

Up to 2 percent of policies written are for households with a driver who’s not listed on the policy — and that “missing” driver is usually a high-premium teenage driver or an adult driver with a lot of premium-boosting baggage. In conducting premium audits, Quality Planning asked one mom why her 17-year-old daughter, a licensed driver, wasn’t listed on the policy. Her reply: “I totally forgot she was in the household.” Unrated drivers accounted for $2.6 billion in lost premium in 2008.

3. Fudging the garage location

Quality Planning noted a slight upward trend in the number of people misreporting where they park their cars, particularly in big cities, where garage locations can affect premiums dramatically. Location discrepancies led to $1.3 billion in lost premium in 2008.

4. Claiming discounts that no longer apply

In some cases, drivers conveniently forget to tell their car insurance agents that the conditions that gave them a discount have changed. For example, perhaps they ended membership in an organization that made them eligible for a special premium rate. These wrongly applied discounts, based on misinformation about the driver or the car, added up to $2.9 billion in 2008.

5. Misstating how the car is used

Some customers fail to tell their car insurance companies that they’re using the car for business. An at-home daycare provider, for instance, may neglect to mention that the household van is used to transport the kids to the park every day. Insurers lost $1.5 billion in premium as a result of this type of misrepresentation.

How car insurance companies find out

There are a variety of ways car insurance companies can find out that you lied. If the teenage son you fail to list on your policy gets in a car accident, it’ll be pretty obvious.

Insurance companies also turn to outfits like Quality Planning, which use sophisticated analytical testing to uncover rating errors. The company puts an insurer’s policies through a battery of more than 150 tests, cross-referencing data and employing pattern-matching algorithms to identify errors and discrepancies that suggest fraud or misrepresentation.

If you think the insurance company can’t find out how far you drive every year, think again. Odometer readings taken at smog testing stations, for instance, can be compared to what you report to your insurance agent, U’Ren says. It’s just one example of how your information can be checked.

Given the turbulent economy, insurers have good reason to pay attention. According to Quality Planning, every 1 percent reduction in rating error can result in a 20 percent profit gain. So don’t be surprised if the information you report to your car insurance company comes under increasing scrutiny.

Why should you care about lies?

For one thing, truthful customers end up paying higher premiums to make up for those who lie.

In addition, if a car insurance company catches you in a lie, it can cancel your policy and refuse to pay your claim — assuming you provided inaccurate information intentionally.

Some of the misinformation reported to insurers stems from outright consumer fraud — people deliberately lying to their car insurance companies in order to score lower premiums.

“People know how insurance works and how the game is played,” U’Ren says.

But most misinformation is the result of unreported lifestyle changes. For example, in 52 percent of household auto insurance policies, there’s a change in the vehicle or drivers each year. And more than 25 percent of workers change jobs every year, which affects the number of miles driven, according to Quality Planning.

“Oftentimes, the insurance agent is the last person you think to contact,” U’Ren says.

“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”

Posted September 6, 2013 by leecountyinsurance in Uncategorized