Thursday, January 28, 2010

Inventory Your Contents with Evernote

One of the most difficult claims to suffer from a property stand point (meaning building and/or contents) is a total loss on a home or business. By total loss I mean that either a fire or tornado has leveled your home or business and there is nothing left but debris. One of the reasons this can be so difficult is that it is very daunting to try and remember all that was in your home or business as well as document all that was inside the building prior to the insurance loss.

There are a number of specialty software’s out there that help individuals and business inventory their belongings, and we recommend any that you find useful and user friendly. However, there is another way to help you document your personal and business belongings. I have found a very useful website called Evernote ( I use it as my cyber file cabinet. The system allows you to upload documents (i.e., PDFs, Word Documents, etc), pictures, voice memos, emails and any notes you wish to directly type into their system. All of this is then securely stored over the web and can be accessed from anywhere. Where I find this website useful, when it comes to creating an inventory, is that I can take a picture of every room in my home or office and store it in a location that I can always get access to it. Prior to Evernote, we used to encourage clients to take pictures and store them at a secondary location but this way everything is digital and accessible from anywhere. So if you had a claim at your location, all you would have to do is log into Evernote from a computer and email all your pictures to the insurance adjustor. That way they will see all that they need to help replace in your home.

My advice on what to take pictures of is as follows: All rooms in the house (including basement, attic and garage), all closets and all cabinets. One thing to note, some items such as Jewelry, Guns, Furs, Stamp Collections, Coins, Money, Silverware and Baseball Cards have limitations in the policy. Be sure to schedule those items on a special insurance rider policy. By the way, any appraisals for jewelry, fine arts, etc. can also be stored on Evernote so you don’t have to worry about them being lost or destroyed.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

BMV Starts to Charge Late Fees

The Ohio Insurance Institute reminded Ohio motorists that new late fees are in place for driver’s license and vehicle plate renewals.
New Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle (BMV) requirements call for transactions to be completed within seven days of the expiration date or be assessed $20 per transaction.
“This means that if you have two cars that require plate renewals and a driver’s license that also needs renewed, you’ll be charged an additional $60 if your plates and license aren’t renewed within seven days following your birthday, “said OII President Daniel J. Keiso.
To avoid late charges, Ohio motorists should renew plates and their driver’s licenses on or before their birthdays.
Prior law gave Ohio motorists their entire birth-date month to renew plates and licenses.
The new BMV regulation only provides a seven-day window before assessing a late charge.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

In today’s economy where many people are looking to cut any costs they can, the number of drivers driving around without insurance has increased. Also, drivers are driving around with lower liability limits than maybe they had during good economic times. This makes the coverage of uninsured and underinsured motorist even more import. So I thought with this blog post, I would take the opportunity to explain a little bit more about what exactly that coverage does.

Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you are hit by someone who has no insurance (up to your uninsured motorist limit) where as underinsured motorist protects you if you are hit by someone who has very low limits, limits lower than your own liability limits. Both of these coverages should be included in your typical auto insurance policy.

The best way to explain what these coverages do is to give you an example of situations where this coverage comes into play.

Say that you were to be driving down the road and an individual ran a red light and slammed into you causing you bodily injury. Say that they also didn’t have any insurance to help pay for your $30,000 of medical bills from the resulting injuries. This is where your uninsured motorists coverage on your personal auto policy steps up. Under that coverage they would pay the bills of $30,000 along with other expenses such as lost wages and pain and suffering.

Using the same example as above but lets say this time the person who ran the red light does have insurance but they have state minimum limits. The most that will pay out under a state minimum limit policy in Ohio is $12,500 per person. That means you would be left with $17,500 in medical bills plus your lost wages and pain and suffering. However, this is where underinsured motorist coverage helps. As long as your auto policy has higher limits than the individuals who hit you, it will pay the extra costs (up to your policy limits).

One last thing to note, on this type of coverage you can purchase even more coverage on an umbrella policy in increments of $1million dollars.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snow Emergency Coverage

Here is an article that applies todays snowy weather. This was posted on the Ohio Insurance Institute Website:

In anticipation of Thursday's snowfall, OII is reissuing this release and additional resource links, originally published 1/30/09.FOR RELEASE:

Auto insurance coverage applies during snow emergenciesCOLUMBUS – The Ohio Insurance Institute (OII) provides the following clarification regarding coverage for auto insurance policyholders involved in a crash during snow emergencies, especially during Level 2 and 3 emergencies. Also provided is a link to information on the three levels of snow emergencies and Ohio law.

Emergency classification details and Ohio law pertaining to snow emergencies online at: emergency levels and enforcement

LEVEL 1: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Roads may also be icy. Drive cautiously.
LEVEL 2: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Only those who feel it is necessary to drive should be out on the roads. Contact your employer to see if you should report to work.
LEVEL 3: Roadways are closed to non-emergency personnel. No one should be driving during these conditions unless it’s absolutely necessary to travel or a personal emergency exists. Employees should contact their employer to see if they should report to work. During a Level 3 emergency, drivers may be subject to arrest and/or fines.

When a Level 2 or 3 is issued, motorists are advised to seek public transportation. In a Level 3 emergency, conditions are not safe and driving is limited to emergency personnel and personal emergencies. One purpose for issuing a Level 3 snow emergency is to enable snow removal equipment to adequately clear roadways without the obstacle of motorists. Citations could be issued for reckless or unnecessary driving during a Level 3 emergency.

Auto insurance coverage in snow emergencies: Based on a survey of Ohio auto insurers, insurance coverage applies to an insured involved in a crash during declared snow emergencies. OII is unaware of any insurance company denying or limiting coverage based on weather conditions, including snow emergencies.

About the OII: The OII is a trade association representing insurance companies and agent groups for the property/casualty insurance industry. Its primary objective is to help Ohioans achieve a better understanding of insurance and safety issues.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

4 Ways to Avoid an Auto Body Shop

We hope this blog post finds everyone getting around safe during this snowy weather. Below is an article that Center City Collision wrote on advice for safe driving during snow. Center City Collision is an auto body repair shop in central Cincinnati.

4 ways to avoid an auto body shop… on December 30th, 2009 by Kevin Rains

Not that we want you to stay away if you need us but there are several things that you can do to significantly decrease your chances of having an accident and needing an auto body shop
4 key areas to consider:
1. Visibility: Have you ever gone to your car in the morning after a frost and couldn’t find that ice scraper that you swore would still be in there from last year. So you start rooting around the car looking for anything that might break through the frost or ice. You blast the defroster full tilt but you’re in a hurry so you grab your driver’s license or a credit card (where is that “reward points” card when you really need it!) and clear a spot that is just big enough to barely see through if you hunker down in your seat and pray you don’t need any peripheral vision… rough way to start the day! Then you realize that maybe the wiper fluid will help melt the ice but the last few drops of water squirt out and just add one more layer of ice before emptying the resovoir… yeah.. now it’s even rougher. AHA! The wipers… the next secret weapon in your ice war arsenal to the rescue. Oh wait… the rubber is just about completely worn off. They needed to be changed 2 years ago but somehow you managed to forget repeatedly and now the wipers are not an ally but a highly developed smudging tool.
The lesson: low cost things like wiper blades, washer fluid (the kind that won’t freeze), and an ice scraper (we have free ones at the shop if you need one) can make a big difference. The hard thing is remembering you need them before you actually do.
One other thing on visibility: check your mirrors. Make sure they are all in working order and set to where they can actually do you some good. Especially important when cars have multiple drivers and they need to constantly be re-set to the current driver. Again, a few seconds to adjust them can save you from a costly and time consuming accident.
2. Traction: Your tires are among your biggest allies when it comes to avoiding accidents. Check for wear and tear (if you see a metal belt starting to show or excessive wear – or worse still – balding on the edges its time for new tires) and inflation to the specifications listed on the side of the tires. Also, consider having them rotated every so often. Tire rotation during a routine maintenance or oil changes is a good time to take care of this.
3. Brakes: Have your brakes checked during maintenance as well. When your brakes feel spongy or don’t allow you to stop quickly if needed its time for them to be changed.
4. Distractions: Recent studies have shown that drivers are 6 times more likely to have an accident if they are texting. Phone calls and texting are gaining on drinking and driving as the number one cause for auto accidents.
So in summary here’s a list of things to do to decrease your chances of having an accident:
- ice scraper in the glove box at all times- fill up your windshield washer reservoir with no-freeze washer fluid- keep your wiper blades in good working order and change them at the first signs of wear and tear- make sure your mirrors are set for you to have good visibility- check your tire pressure and make sure it is up to factory recommendations- check for tire wear and tear or balding- rotate your tires during routine maintenance or oil changes- have your brakes routinely serviced and changed as needed- DO NOT text and drive- if you’re going to use your phone while driving (which is not recommended) at least get a hands-free ear piece so your hands can stay on the steering wheel- I’ll just go ahead and state the obvious as well: Do not drink and drive… ever.