Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Extended Dwelling Coverage on a Homeowner

Many moons ago all insurance companies used to have guaranteed replacement cost endorsement you could put on your homeowner policy. This endorsement would guarantee that the insurance company would rebuild your house exactly as it was prior to the claim even if your limit of insurance on the house was lower than the cost to rebuild. Today many insurance companies limit that endorsement to only homes that are considered high value (homes valued at $500,000 or more). The endorsements also require that the insurance companies send out professional reconstruction appraisers to figure out as best they can what it would cost to rebuild your home.

For those homeowner clients who have a house valued at less than $500,000 the endorsement that needs to be added to the homeowner policy is Extended Dwelling Coverage. What this endorsement does is give a percentage of the homeowner limit as extra coverage in case of a total loss on the home. For example, if you have 25% Extended Dwelling Coverage and your house is insured for $200,000 then you would actually have $250,000 if your home suffered a total loss ($200,000 X 1.25 = $250,000).

We feel this coverage is important for two reasons. One reason is we do not send out professional reconstruction appraisers to every house. Instead, insurance companies use in house software that helps determine reconstruction cost on your house using things like square footage, construction type, location, year built, etc. to come up with a value. These programs are usually very accurate but nothing replaces the accuracy of an in home visit with measuring tape and details of the type of amenities in the house. The Extended Dwelling Coverage endorsement helps make sure that if for some reason the calculations on the house are a little off, there is still enough insurance there to replace the house to its original state.

The second reason we encourage this endorsement is for catastrophe situations. Let’s say a tornado wipes out not only your house but two other neighborhoods worth of homes. Every builder and building supplier in town will be in demand. Economics 101 will tell you that if demand goes up and supply is the same, then prices are going to rise. That home that only cost $200,000 to rebuild just got a lot more expensive but if you have the Extended Dwelling Coverage on your homeowner you would be in a much better situation.

One thing to note about this endorsement, you can’t use it to underinsure your home. In our example above, you can’t insure the house for only $160,000 and add the 25% Extended Dwelling Coverage (which would put your total insurance at $200,000). That is not the intent of the coverage. The insure companies will use their software to figure out a good estimate of the cost to rebuild your house and you would have to have it insured for that amount in order to add the coverage.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Safe Travels this Holiday!

The Holidays are in full swing and with Christmas just a couple of days away; many have already started their Holiday travels. Being the insurance people that we are, here are a few tips for a safe and secure season of travel.

1) Make your home seem like someone is still there. You can do this several ways. Leave your front and back porch lights on so that at night your house is lit up. Ask a neighbor to collect your mail while you are gone so it doesn’t stack up. You can also ask the post office to hold if for you until you get back. Another way to make it look like you are home is to ask a neighbor to pull in and out of your driveway at some point if it snows giving the appearance that you have been in and out of your house.

2) Don’t show off to the Facebook world that you are on vacation. I know this can be tough for some but letting everyone know you are out of town on Facebook can be dangerous. We recommend waiting until you get home from your trip before you post vacation pictures.
3) Car travelers should be prepared for heavy snow at all times. The best way to do this is to make sure you have extra blankest, windshield washer fluid, ice scrapers and even a small shovel. You never know when you might need any of those things. Also, be sure to have your phone charged during the trip so that you have it in case of an emergency.
4) Don’t skimp on heat in your home: This time last year our big recommendation in our “Traveling Over the Holiday” blog article was to keep the heat in your house at a reasonable level so your pipes don’t freeze. Again, we recommend this.

Those are just a few simple tips. We here at Fey Insurance hope you have a wonderful Holiday and Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Feds urge states to ban texting and talking on the roads

Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced that in their opinion texting, emailing or chatting while driving is simply too dangerous to be allowed anywhere in the United States. They are urging all states to impose a total ban except for emergincies. Presently, 35 states plus the District of Columbia ban texting while driving, and thirty states ban all cellphone use for beginning drivers. Enforcement is sketchy and no states ban the use of hands-free devices for all drivers. The NTSB says they are seeing increasing texting, cellphone calls and other distractions by drivers in accidents involving all kinds of transportation. It is common for law enforcement officers to immediately request the preservation of cell phone and texting records when an accident investigation begins. While no states ban hands-free use, the NTSB's recommendation that hands-free use of cell phones be banned, too, will carry much weight with federal regulators, Congress and state law makers.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Host Liquor Liability (Repost)

Over the next several months there will be many reasons for businesses and individuals to host events and parties where alcohol may be served. Businesses will have parties and happy hours to celebrate the holiday season where they will be providing alcohol for employees or customers. Individuals may use the same reason to have friends and family over to celebrate and consume alcohol. Taking my party hat off for just a moment and putting my risk management/insurance hat on, let me discuss something called Host Liquor Liability.

This is a coverage that often is part of a Commercial General Liability (CGL) policy and also included in homeowner policies as long as the individual and/or businesses are not in the occupation of making, selling or distributing of alcohol for money (meaning bars, distilleries, wineries, restaurants, etc. would have a different coverage simply called Liquor Liability). Host Liquor Liability is a coverage to help protect in cases where injuries happen because of alcohol incidents. One common example would be a participant is driving drunk and as a result crashes and injures people in an auto accident. Wherever the drunk driver last consumed alcohol could find themselves facing a lawsuit for injuries that were caused by the driver. They could be pulled into the situation because it was at their event and under their supervision that this driver consumed alcohol and then got behind the wheel intoxicated and drove off.
So here is one key thing about host liquor liability that all your employees, customers and/or friends and family will like to hear: if you are going to have an event with alcohol you are best to give it away. If at your event money changes hands and people are then able to consume alcohol you would have violated the no making, selling or distributing of alcohol for money rule. If you are having alcohol at a charity event the alcohol would have to be donated for the event or have a very good paper trail showing that none of the moneys collected to get in the event went toward the purchase of alcohol. Now, if your event is going to have a cash bar you will need to look into purchasing two items. The first is a temporary liquor license from the state and the second is a Liquor Liability insurance policy. Both of those can be costly and time consuming to acquire so your best bet is to just give it away… and be more popular with your employees, customers, friends and family.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Saftey Tip from Red Cross

Thanksgiving is only a few days away.  By now many families are preparing for the big day by plotting out the cooking of the traditional Thanksgiving Turkey.  Whether you are deep frying the turkey or just baking it in the oven there is always risk in doing something that is not a daily routine.  I recently came across a great article written by the Oregon Chapter of the Red Cross.  They give these seven tips for safe cooking:
  • Keep potholders and food wrappers at least three feet away from heat sources while cooking  
  • Wear tighter fitting clothing with shorter sleeves when cooking
  • Make sure all stoves, ovens, and ranges have been turned off when you leave the kitchen
  • Set timers to keep track of turkeys and other food items that require extended cooking times
  • Turn handles of pots and pans on the stove inward to avoid accidents
  • Follow all manufacturer guidelines regarding the appropriate use of appliances
  • After guests leave, designate a responsible adult to walk around the home making sure that all candles and smoking materials are extinguished
To read the entire article please click this link:  Thanksgiving Safety Tips


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Market Value vs. Replacement Cost

Here is our first attempt at catering our insurance education to the visual learner.  We at Fey Insurance are not artist so please keep that in mind.  Enjoy this video that talks about the difference between market value and replacement cost.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Alternate Source of Home Heating

The high cost of home heating and the current recession have led many Americans to search for alternate sources of home heating. Many of these sources of heating may be acceptable if appropriate safeguards are used. However, be aware these supplemental heating devices are responsible for thousands of home fires each year.
Wood Stoves
Wood stoves cause more than 4000 residential fires each year. Carefully follow the manufacturer’s installation and maintenance instructions. Look for solid construction, such as plate steel or cast iron metal. Check for cracks and inspect legs, hinges and door seals for smooth joints and seams. Use only seasoned wood for fuel, not green wood, artificial logs or trash. Inspect and clean your pipes and chimney annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions. Cleaning more often may be necessary. Be sure to keep combustible objects at least three feet away from your wood stove.

Electric Space HeatersBuy only heaters with the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) safety listing. Check to make sure it has a thermostat control mechanism, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over. Space heaters need space; keep combustibles at least three feet away from the heater. Always unplug your electric space heater when not in use.
Kerosene HeatersBuy only UP-approved heaters and check with your local fire department on the legality of kerosene heater use in your community. Never fill your heater with gasoline or camp stove fuel; both flare up easily. Only use crystal clear K-1 kerosene. Never overfill any portable heater and never fuel the heater when it is hot. Use the kerosene heater in a well-ventilated room. Kerosene heaters pose perhaps the worst exposure largely due to improper use and the fact they contain a highly flammable liquid- not to mention potentially dangerous fumes.
FireplacesFireplaces and wood stoves regularly build up creosote in their chimneys. They need to be cleaned frequently and chimneys should be inspected for obstructions and cracks to prevent deadly chimney and roof fires. Check to make sure the damper is open before starting any fire. Never burn trash, paper or green wood in your fireplace. These materials cause heavy creosote buildup and are difficult to control. Use a screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks. Do not wear loose fitting clothes near any open flame. Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed. Store cooled ashes in a tightly sealed metal container outside the home.
Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increased your chances of surviving a fire. Always remember to practice a hoe escape plan frequently with your family.
Source: US Fire Association

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Home Security Alarm (re post)

On a daily basis you see ads on TV for home security systems. We at Fey Insurance highly recommend the installation of a Home Security System to add additional protection for you and your family. Insurance will work to put your property back in place after a fire or burglary, but a Home Security System will work to prevent or minimize the effects of that fire or burglary. If you are interested in such a Home Security System, please call us and we will tell you our opinion of the various manufacturers and what features to consider. For example battery backups are usually included in Home Security Systems, but we would also recommend cellular backups for your system in the event your normal phone service goes down or even disabled by a potential burglar. We would include carbon monoxide detectors in your system especially if you have a natural gas furnace or hot water heater. Central station monitoring is preferable to systems that go directly into a police or fire dispatch. Both are considered superior to a system that only sounds a local alarm in your home. There are discounts on your Homeowner policy for the installation of a Home Security System. Please call us to review those discounts. But the most important reason, in our opinion, to install such a system is for additional security for your family and peace of mind that you are doing everything to protect your family and your property.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Professional Liability & the Claims-Made Policy

Occupations or business practices involving specialized care or advice often need professional liability insurance. Typical business classifications that need this coverage would be notary publics, real estate agents or managers, attorneys, doctors and consultants. The typical commercial general liability policy will only respond to bodily injury, property damage, personal injury or advertising injury claim.

The professional liability policy often is written on a claims-made form. The claims-made form requires the claim to be reported during the policy period, and the incident causing the claim must have occurred after the retro date for a claim to be covered. A retro date is a date prior to the start of the claims-made policy. The retro date could be years prior to the start date of the policy based on the underwriter’s discretion, after considering the applicants past exposures and loss history.

By comparison, the typical occurrence-based policy used in most commercial policies responds to claims that occur during the policy period, regardless of when reported subject to the statutes of limitations. The occurrence-based policy handles when the claim happens, and the claims-made policy considers when the claim is reported. In some cases, it is possible to purchase a claims-made policy with full prior acts coverage that essentially does away with a retro date. Coverage classes for this option are limited, and again, depend on the underwriter’s discretion.

When canceling an existing claims-made policy, it is usually advisable to purchase and extended reporting period. This is commonly referred to as tail coverage. Various lengths of time are available. Tail coverage extends the claim reporting period under the claims-made policy to cover claims that have occurred during the coverage period, and not yet reported by the cancellation date.
While most occurrence-based policies are somewhat similar, claims-made policies are usually specific to each company issuing the policy. The insurance agent must d o a careful review of these differences to determine applicability to a particular operation.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fire Prevention Week

This week is the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Fire Prevention Week.  This is a great chance for you and your family to discuss the danger of fire, the best ways to prevent fires in the home and create an escape plan if fire were to occur in your home.  The National Fire Protection Association has teamed up with Scholastic, Inc. and have made great educational programs for families.  Click the below hyper link and be directed to the NFPA’s website that focus on the educational materials.  The materials are free.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

US Working Toward Standardized Penalties for Data Breaches

Last month the US Senate’s Judiciary Committee approved three bills that deal with data breaches.  Those three bills where, The Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2011, The Personal Data Protection and Breach Accountability Act of 2011 and the Data Breach Notification Act of 2011.  The gist of all these acts is that the government is working toward a standardized practice of requiring notification of data breaches and a standardization of penalties for companies that have data breaches.  What this means for business is that it is now very important for you to take as many precautions as you can to secure your clients’ private data.  Firewalls, antivirus software, IT consultants, encryptions, company internet usage policies and password protections are all key parts of securing your business for data breaches. 

Even if all the preventative measures are in place, your business still runs that risk of a data breach.  That is where insurance products can help protect your business.  Insurance products can’t help protect your data but they can protect your company’s money by helping pay for data breach notification costs, third party lawsuits filed against your company for breach of client’s personal information and the cost to restore lost data.

As the government moves to a more standardized notification requirement and penalties for data breaches, companies that hold private information should also be working toward setting up strong data security measures as well as put in place insurance products to help protect their company’s hard earned money.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Be Cautious When Using Smart Devices

Mobile devices used by you personally or provided by your business or employer offer wonderful advantages to make you more productive, but they come with potential hazards. Security breaches either by accident or intentional "hacking" can put your personal information and/or your business information at risk.

Most corporate security types say the biggest issues involve personal mobile devices use to "hack" into corporate servers and data bases. Data encryption and passwords are highly recommended along with the ability to wipe out data from a Smartphone or tablet issued by the company. The latter can be extremely helpful in the event a personal Smartphone is stolen, and the corporate IT people want to wipe the phone of all secure access information remotely. Some corporations allow access to company data through personal mobile devices but only with devices that were provided by the corporation. Some corporations are requiring employees to register personal devices with corporate security/data processing so they can control how their corporate data is being accessed. All of these precautions are highly recommended by Fey Insurance.

It isn't just the business world that faces possible problems with personal smart phones, iPads, etc. accessing data. Accessing your personal and private financial information via Smartphone, iPads, etc can also be an issue. Many people have their banking applications on their devices as well as applications that have all their stored passwords. A lost device could result in access to your personal bank accounts and do a lot of financial damage. Password protecting your devices is key. The more passwords and protection you employ the better in protecting you and your family from potential financial ruin. Apple iPhones have tracking capabilities so if your phone is lost you can use your personal computer or another iPhone to track its location. They also allow you to wipe the phones clean of all data and make them useless to anyone who might find the lost phone and want to cause serious problems with your data.

If you have further questions, consult your Smartphone or table manufacturer, your phone service carrier or your corporate IT/security people for help.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

WSJ Article on Flood Insurance

Wall Street Journal had a very interesting article about flood insurance.   In the wake of all that is going on in the aftermath of Irene, we thought this article would be a good one to share.  As you may recall from our previous posts on flood insurance, it is run by FEMA.  What is going to even make this whole flood topic even more interesting is that the FEMA flood program expires on Sept 30th, 2011 unless the lawmakers decide to continue the program.  Stay tuned.

Click below to read the article:
As Homeowners Dive Into Pool Of Flood Insurance, Caveats Abound

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Directors and Officers of Non-Profit Organizations

Many people today have a servant’s heart and wish to volunteer on different non-profit boards to help better their community.  As board members they steer the path of the non profit organization by helping with fiscal policy and with major decision making.  We at Fey Insurance strong encourage people to take part in boards to help better their community; however, we caution them to make sure these boards have Directors and Officers Liability. 

Many people think that if they buy a personal umbrella policy they will be covered for anything that could happen to them while serving on a board.  Unfortunately this is not always true.  Many umbrella policies only cover you for Directorships or Trusteeships if they are non-profit and only for Bodily Injury, Property Damage and Personal Injury.  Most lawsuits that could arise out of your service on a non for profit board will not be for Bodily Injury, Property Damage or Personal Injury.  They will be because other members of the organization that are not on the board disagree and disapprove of a financial decision or just an overall steering decision that the board made.  Lawsuits such as these are considered wrongful acts and do not fall under the Bodily Injury, Property Damage or Personal Injury and would therefore in many cases not be covered by your homeowner or personal umbrella.

This possibly large gap in coverage is why we strongly encourage our customers that sit on boards (for-profit or not-for-profit) to make sure the boards have Directors and Officers Liability (D&O liability).  D&O Liability is special coverage designed to protect for wrongful acts or supposed wrongful acts of the board.  We recommend this coverage to all boards not only to protect our individual insured’s but to also protect the organization itself.  Even if a claim of wrongful acts is frivolous it can still cost the organization thousands or tens of thousands of dollars just to defend itself.

So next board meeting you attend be sure to ask if they have Directors and Officers Liability.  If they say no and tell you that you should be fine if you have a personal umbrella be sure to reference this article to help them understand the possible large limitation that a personal umbrella has in covering you as a board member.  

Friday, August 26, 2011

“Wear and Tear” Vs. “Sudden and Accidental”

Two terms that are important to know when it comes to the reason behind an insurance claim. Those terms are “Wear and Tear” and “Sudden and Accidental”.

“Wear and tear” is defined by Wikipedia as “damage that naturally and inevitably occurs as a result of normal wear or aging.” An example on a home would be a house settling over time, a pipe that corrodes and leaks water over several months or years, or a roof that after 15 years starts to drop shingles. All these items would not be covered under an insurance policy as an insurance policy does not cover “Wear and Tear”. Insurance policies cover “Sudden and Accidental” events.

So what is “Sudden and Accidental”? The best way to define it is by giving examples. If a pipe in your house just suddenly burst from pressure or because of freezing that is sudden and was done accidently. If wind blows through your neighborhood and suddenly blows off your roof or chunks of your roof that is sudden and accidental. If a tree falls and damages your home that event is sudden and accidental.

“Sudden and Accidental” events are things people can not totally prevent which is why insurance exists and covers them. On the other hand, “Wear and Tear” damage can be prevented by making sure your property is well maintained and updated. Insurance policies are not maintenance contracts.

So next time you have damage to your property ask yourself is this “Wear and Tear” or “Sudden and Accidental”? If it is “Sudden and Accidental” be sure to call your insurance agent or if you are not sure which it falls under call your insurance agent and let them help you figure that out.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Insurance and Your College Kids

Out in front of our Oxford, OH insurance office, it is a busy place. Today 16,000+ Miami University students return to begin a new school year. This annual pilgrimage brings up potential insurance issues pertaining to what parent's personal insurance policies cover or don't cover. Three areas that parents should be aware of:

(1) If your son or daughter is going away to school over 100 miles from home without a car, most companies will rate your Personal Auto Policy for them being married which is a nice discount. Let us know if this discount might apply to your family and your Personal Auto Policy.

(2) Most insurance companies will extend personal property (contents) coverage and personal liability for your son or daughter while they are in college and living in a dormitory. Some, but not all, will also extend coverage if they are living in off campus facilities such as an apartment or other student housing. Please check with us to see if your insurance company provides this extended protection. If not, we should be able to write a Tenant/Homeowner for your student to cover both their personal property and personal liability while they are an undergraduate. If they are in graduate school, they should definitely have their own Tenant/Homeowner Policy.

(3) If you or your children are using a rental truck to take their things back to college, U-Haul, Penske, Hertz and other will offer you coverage on the vehicle (collision damage waiver) and extended liability. While these may be covered by your Personal Auto Policy, not all companies extend the protection, so check with us before renting the vehicle. Whether or not they are covered will depend on the length and Gross Vehicle Weight of the vehicle and several other factors. We may be suggesting you buy the extra protection from the rental company before your trip.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Leaving Your House Vacant? Consult Your Agent! (9/17/10 Repost)

In today’s real estate market it can be somewhat common to purchase a new home with out having first sold your current home. Prices are low so if you want to upgrade your house, now seems to be the time even if you know you may have to wait a few months until you sell your current home. So many are purchasing a new home, moving into it and then leaving the old home vacant until it sells. This can pose an insurance problem that Fey Insurance feels many don’t realize.

In a typical homeowner policy there is wording that refers to a 60 day period. For sixty days your homeowner policy will have no change in coverage once it becomes vacant. However, and this is important, once the house has been vacant for 60 days some of the coverages are no longer provided. Example, vandalism or malicious mischief claims would no longer be covered. Same with glass breakage claims. The reason for this is that a homeowner policy is priced and designed for buildings that are being lived in and cared for by the owners. Once the owner no longer lives there and it is vacant then the building is more at risk for claims and therefore the insurance companies require it be on a special vacancy policy. What does vacancy mean? Vacancy means the following, “Substantially empty of personal property necessary to sustain normal occupancy.”

So if you are considering purchasing a new home and leaving the current home vacant until it sells, please be sure to call your insurance agent so they can make sure coverages don’t disappear from your policy

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Special Limits in Your Homeowner Policy

Your homeowners insurance policy places limits on certain types of property. In your policy there is a section titled “Special Limits on Certain Property.” This section will list various items and place a dollar limit on each type of property- such as jewelry, fine arts, guns or money.

Why do insurance policies contain such provisions? The homeowners insurance policy is written to provide coverage for the average policy holder. Most of us do not own collections or keep large amounts of cash at our homes. While the policy provides some limited coverage for special types of property, it in no way serves the needs of the unique collector.

There is, however, a solution for the collector or owner of unusual property items. It is possible to amend your homeowners policy, by endorsement, to provide special coverage for unique collection items such as coins or stamps. By asking your agent to include a schedule property floater in your coverage, you can specifically insure items of special interest. The personal property floater also expands coverage for perils not included in the homeowner policy.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Our 100th Blog Post!

We have now reached 100 posts on the Fey Insurance Services blog. Over the past few years we have posted about a variety of insurance and risk management topics. We have helped to educate businesses and individuals on how to best protect their hard earned assets such as their home, cars, and businesses. We have also give tips on how to stay safe in an ever changing world including tips on online identity safety and how to best prepare your home for the winter months.

Our hope is that you have enjoyed the 99 other posts and found some information that was helpful in each one. For the years to come we will continue to add helpful content so that our clients and readers can enjoy a safe and protected life.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Business Income

Calculating the appropriate business income limit does not have to be a mind-numbing process. To understand business income coverage limits, you must simply understand that the coverage is almost entirely based on time. The amount of coverage and the correct coinsurance amount can be calculated once a reasonable estimation of the time necessary to return to full operational capability is determined.

Four Key Objectives must be accomplished as quickly as reasonably possible:

1) Rebuild the building, or find a move to an alternate permanent location.
2) Find, purchase, and have operational, replacement machinery and equipment.
3) Replace and/or replenish stock (raw materials for manufacturing operations).
4) Return operations to the same level existing just prior to the loss.

Business Income’s Necessity

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there is a structure fire ever 4.5 minutes. Approximately 25 percent of businesses never reopen after a shutdown of just 30 or more days, according to the insurance industry. When you include the number of business failures within five years that are directly traceable to the same kind of claim, the number could approach 40 percent.

Business closings as a result of natural disasters also reach 25percent. The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that more than 90 percent of small businesses fail within two years after being struck by a disaster. Combining these two pieces of statistical data, losses can lead to the closure of thousands of business in any given year due to an interruption in operations.

The Calculation

Once total revenues and the total amount of non-continuing expenses (production-related expenses that do not continue during the interruption) is known and applied to an honest worst-case scenario estimate of the time necessary to resume operations, the correct coinsurance percentage can be calculated. Coinsurance percentages, in 10 percent increments, can be from 50 percent to 100 percent- each representing a proportion of one year (50 percent equals six months; 60 percent equals 7.2 months; 100 percent equals 12 months). It is also sometimes possible to obtain a 15-month business-interruption period at a corresponding coinsurance limit of 125 percent.

The Reality

Most businesses that close and never reopen after a catastrophic closure (30 days or more), don’t close because of the lack of building and business personal property coverage. They close because there is no money coming in the door. Few businesses can remain viable without a source of income. Many business expenses continue even during the period of temporary closing.

Obviously, the optimal goal is to have the building, contents and business income all properly insured. Ultimately, only the business can provide these figures, but this simple approach can make this exercise much easier. Once you accept the reality that loss of income is as important to the insure as insuring your property, we can help guide you to the proper coverage to further protect your business.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Extended Replacement Coverage on Home Insurance

The recent devastation caused by the spring tornadoes is a sobering reminder that catastrophes can strike at any time. When a total loss occurs, homeowners coverage is designed to reconstruct a home under normal conditions. But following a catastrophe, increased demand for building materials and labor can cause these costs to rise significantly, potentially leaving policy limits inadequate.

Fortunately, many insurance companies offer extended dwelling coverage to help prevent such shortfalls.

How it works

Two coverage levels give you options: Extended dwelling coverage is available at levels of 25% or %50% of additional Coverage A amounts, allowing people to choose the level that fits their needs.
Example: A home is insured for a Dwelling Limit (Coverage A) of $100,000. Following a total loss, reconstruction cost amount to $120,000. Without extended dwelling coverage, the policy holder could incur significant out of pocket expenses or be forced to make difficult rebuilding choices to reduce the costs. With 25% or 50% in extended dwelling coverage, the home would have those extra costs covered (i.e. 25%-Dwelling is increase to $125,000 or 50%-Dwelling is increased to $150,000).

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Child Booster Seats

The institute for Highway Safety has provided a method to take much of the guesswork out of selecting the proper booster seat for your child. Seat belts are designed with adults in mind- so a child booster seat is an absolute necessity, and extra care needs to be taken when securing young children.

Children usually resist wearing a seatbelt because it is uncomfortable. Boosters elevate children so that the safety belts installed in the vehicles by manufacturers will fit the child better. The booster seat allows the lap belt to fit properly over the child’s thighs and not their abdomen. The shoulder belt should fit across the middle of the child’s shoulder. Not only will the belt be more comfortable, it will provide maximum protection in a crash.

The institute’s researchers used a specially designed test dummy configured as a 6 year old child. The researchers determined the effectiveness of how a 3-point lap and shoulder belt fit the dummy under a range of configurations representing many different automobile models. Based on a range of scores, a booster seat rating was assigned to each seat.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


The temptations and dangers to today’s children are unfortunately ever growing. The news will attest to this with stories of abductions, kidnapping, facebook driven depressions, internet bullying, etc. It is important that kids and parents today be proactive against such dangers. Being in the business of risk management we are always looking for ways to mitigate and avoid risk. One way to do this when it comes to kid’s safety is through courses put on by Kidproof. Kidproof is an organization that puts on safety courses for children. The courses are geared toward kids ages 5 to mid teens.

Some examples of their courses are:

Cybersafe which teaches kids how to safely use the internet. They teach them how to see warning signs and unsafe situations online.

Another course is all about avoiding being bullied or how to deal appropriately with a bully. The course is called Bully Proofing.

Their most popular class is the Babysitter Training course. This course helps kids develop the skills needed to take care of other children.

Knowledge and education are always a good defense against certain dangers. Kidproof’s classes are a great way for parents to help make children aware and educated on today’s dangers. Visit today.

Kidproof is always looking to expand to help get the word out to parents in different communities in North America. If anyone wishes to start their own Kidproof franchise then contact Darian Richardson of RMC Franchise. Visit his website at

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pools and Insurance

A few weekends ago we all celebrated Memorial Day. Traditionally this is the weekend where many pool owners open up the family pool for the summer. Pools are cleaned, chlorine is checked and pool toys are brought out of storage. There is, however, one other step pool owners should take when opening the pool. That step is to make sure their homeowner insurance is up to date to best protect them if something happens to the pool and or to a summer guest.

The pool itself has coverage on your homeowner policy under Section I, Other Structures. Normally this coverage is 10% to 20% of the amount of insurance you have on your home. Let’s say you have your house insured for $200,000; under a typical homeowner policy you will have $20,000 in coverage for Other Structures. As a pool owner you need to ask yourself, is that enough to cover my pool if it was damaged? If not you may need to increase your Other Structures coverage.

Liability is always a big concern when a pool is involved. It is important for pool owners to know that many insurance companies require pools to be fenced. If they are not the pool owner may find their homeowner carrier canceling their insurance. So if you are someone that currently doesn’t have a pool but plan to add one, make sure to include a fence in your planning process.

Umbrella insurance policies are something we at Fey Insurance Services always recommend but if you are a pool owner we strongly recommend them. Unfortunately drowning is a real risk when you own a pool. Heaven forbid this ever happened at your pool but if tragedy did strike you would want to have all the liability coverage you can to help protect you.

So before you pull the winter cover off your pool, be sure to consult with your insurance agent and do a review of your homeowner insurance. Enjoy the summer!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Homeowner Insurance in a Disaster

With all the devastation that is occurring in the country from tornados, home insurance has become a hot topic. More specifically, having the correct amount of insurance on your home has become a hot topic. A few weeks back we posted a blog article about a house's "Market Value" vs. "Construction Replacement Cost". Just a few days ago USA Today journalist Sandra Block posted a wonderful article in the Money section of USA Today on the same topic. Here is a link to this article:

Will Your Homeowners Insurance Cover You if Disaster Hits? by Sandra Block (June 1, 2011) USA Today

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Tree, Their Vehicle... Whose Insurance (Repost from 10/23/09)

About a year ago I received a call from my neighbor. He sounded as if something was wrong; “Where are you” he asked? I informed him that I was away from home at the moment but was there something I could help him with. “Yeah, you can come get your huge tree limb off my SUV!” I immediately turned around and headed home. Once I got there I saw what is pictured here in this blog post. Because of heavy winds my huge front yard tree had dropped a limb and totally smashed the top of my neighbor’s vehicle. He and I spent the whole next day cutting away at the tree limb so that we could eventually tow his car to a body shop.

Now my neighbor lives next door to an insurance man so he was already well versed in whose insurance takes care of the damages to his SUV but for those of you that are not as privileged to live next to an insurance man I thought I would explain. Even though it was my tree that caused the damage my homeowner policy would not be involved in paying for the damages. In order for me to be responsible I would have to be negligent in some way but since it was an “act of God” (wind) negligence could not be pointed at me. Therefore, the coverage for the damage to his vehicle would fall under his personal auto policy. More specifically it would be his comprehensive or “other than collision” coverage. Since this coverage usually has a deductible (the amount the policy holder has to pay out of pocket before the insurance company takes care of the rest) I offered to help pay the amount he would have to pay out of pocket. I was not required to do this but since I like my neighbor and it was my tree, I felt it was the right thing to do.

There is, however, one situation that could have made the tree limb fall my fault. If for some reason my neighbor felt that my tree was unhealthy and dangerous he could compose a letter and “send receipt” a letter to me (meaning upon delivery I would have to sign a document stating I had received the letter). In the letter he would have to state that he felt my tree was in danger of falling and causing damage to his property. If that had been the case and my neighbor had sent me the letter he could have had grounds that I was negligent. This in turn would cause my homeowner policy to pay out for his damages and not his personal auto policy.

By the way, my tree is very healthy so there is no need for my neighbor to write a letter.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Your Facebook Password

Infoworld reports potential issues with Facebook users' personal information and recommend changing your password...

"Symantec Tuesday warned that advertisers, analytic platforms, and other third parties may be able to access Facebook users' personal information using inadvertently leaked application tokens. The security company advised Facebook users to change their passwords on the social networking site in order protect their accounts from being mined.

Facebook said it has fixed a year-old flaw, reported by Symantec, that caused iframe applications to inadvertently leak access tokens. Those tokens can be used maliciously to get at users' profiles, photographs, and chats, as well as for posting messages -- which could include links to malware sites -- to their Facebook pages.

Facebook's fix, however, has only stopped the leak; the aforementioned tokens still reside in log files of third-party servers or are still being actively used by advertisers. Symantec estimated that as of April of this year, close to 100,000 applications were enabling the leakage: "We estimate that over the years, hundreds of thousands of applications may have inadvertently leaked millions of access tokens to third parties.

"Concerned Facebook users can change their Facebook passwords to invalidate leaked access tokens. Changing the password invalidates these tokens and is equivalent to 'changing the lock' on your Facebook profile," according to Symantec.

Details of how the leak works is viewable in Symantec's blog."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Water In Your Basement?

This rain has caused one common phone call for our agency this spring, “I have water in the basement”. Whether it is a home, business or rental property, water has been finding its way into places it should not be; so what better topic to blog about today than water in your basement.

The first question we are asked is whether or not it is covered. This depends on a few factors. The two main factors are the source of where the water is coming from and the type of insurance policy you have. If water is coming into your basement through window wells or other opening in your basement (excluding drains), then that would be considered a flood loss which often is not covered by your normal insurance policy. In fact, even if you had a flood policy it normally doesn’t cover contents located in parts of a building that are underground, i.e. a basement. If the water is gathering in your basement because of a sump pump failure or a backed up drain or sewer than there could be coverage, as long as you meet the second factor which is having the type of policy that covers those things. Rental property policies have the most limiting coverage for water in the basement. The main coverage you need is called “Water Back up of Sewers and Drains” and many insurance companies don’t offer that on rental properties. Commercial building insurance policies have the “Water Back up of Sewers and Drains” endorsement as an optional coverage so it just depends if you purchased that option or not if you would have coverage. Homeowners polices more often than not have the “Water Back up of Sewers and Drains” included in their basic policy but if someone tried to skimp on the premium they may have taken that coverage out.

There are a few tips that we would like to let you know about as far as dealing with such a rainy spring. First, if you don’t go to your basement very often make sure that during this time of year you do take more frequent trips for inspection purposes. If you have a sump pump, check it regularly to make sure it is functioning properly. Also, make sure that drains are clear of anything that might cause blockage.

If you do have the bad luck of finding standing water in your basement make sure to give your insurance person a call. Whether it is covered or not they would have advice as to who to call for clean up. It is a good idea to try and clean the water up as soon as you can since mold can settle in after a few days. Also, if the basement is in a commercial building that stores chemicals of any kind it might be best to stay clear from the water. The water may have caused leaked chemicals to mix and could be harmful.

If you happen to be in the service area of the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati you are one of the lucky few that could get free help with your water problem. Again, depending on the source of the water, they may take care of the water clean up at no cost to you. Their phone number is 513-352-4900 and their website is

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Market Value vs Replacement Costs

Market Value vs. Replacement Cost is something that we in the insurance business discuss a lot with property owners. Depending on the economic conditions there can be a variation between Market Value and Replacement cost. Since the current economic conditions have caused such a discrepancy we at Fey Insurance thought it might be a good time to explain the difference between the two terms.

Market Value is the amount that a house is worth on the real estate market. It is what you can buy or sell the house for. As we sit in the middle of a depressed real estate market, the value of homes is down from years past. When you hear a mortgage company or title company talk about getting an appraisal they are always talking about Market Value because the lending institution is mainly concerned with what they could sell the asset (building) for.

Replacement Cost is concerned with a different valuation of a building. Replacement cost deals with the amount of money it would take to rebuild a structure using the same materials at the same location with the same style of construction. Because this is based on building materials and cost of labor it doesn’t have the large swings that Market Value has. For example, in today’s poor economic conditions, material costs have stayed pretty level meaning the Replacement Cost of a building has stayed relatively flat.

So how do these two forms of valuations play out in numbers? Let’s take an example home that is a brick structure, has four bedrooms/ two baths and is about 2000 square feet. A house like this in our area may be listed on the real estate market for about $250,000 (depending on the school district, location to town, etc) and will probably sell for about $235,000 (which would then be the Market Value). This same structure would have a different value if we used Replacement Cost. In our area the same structure just mentioned would cost about $135.00 per square foot to rebuild if a fire or tornado totally destroyed it. Take the $135.00 per square foot and multiply that by the 2000 square feet and you come up with a value of $270,000 (which would then be the Replacement Cost).

When it comes to banks and lenders they care about Market Value ($235,000 in our example) where the insurance companies, since they will have to pay to have the home rebuilt after a fire or tornado, cares about the Replacement Costs ($270,000 in our example).

So next time you see your homeowner policy or commercial building policy and look at what they are insuring your structure for don’t say to yourself, “I couldn’t sell my building for that” because the amount you are thinking of is the Market Value. Insurance companies are only interested in the Replacement Cost because they want to make sure they are able to rebuild your property and make you just as you were prior to the fire or tornado.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Deductible Basics

When a covered insurance claim happens the insured, in many cases, will be responsible for the first few dollars of most losses. The amount they are responsible for is called the deductible. More often than not, deductibles are only associated with property damage of the insured’s own possessions whether that is a vehicle that was damaged or damage to their contents, their buildings or even their loss of income. On some occasions you may see deductibles on liability claims but not in many.

Deductibles can come in many different forms on insurance policies. You can have a given dollar amount, say $500. Often times you see this type of deductible on home insurance or business property insurance. Some deductibles might be a percent of the loss like 1% or 10%. Sometimes you will see this type of deductible on a home or business but many times it will be associated specifically with earthquake coverage. Deductibles can be vanishing deductibles. As the insured racks up years of no losses, their deductible gradually drops each year until eventual it is $0.

In most cases the deductible is per claim. This means that each time you have a claim you pay a deductible. It isn’t like your typical health insurance policy where you have an out of pocket deductible for the year and once you meet that limit you are done with the deductible. In property and casualty, if you have a $500 flat per claim deductible you will pay $500 each time you have a claim no matter how many you have in a given year.

Deductibles can be a helpful cost savings tool. They can be raised to help drop premiums but the insured needs to understand that by raising deductibles they have taken on a bit more of the burden of possible claims.

It is important for insureds to understand what their deductible is so that they can be prepared to financially meet its requirement if a claim were to happen. I mention this more in connection with a percentage deductible. The insured should know if the percent is on the cost of the claim or on the coverage limit. For example, if a person had a $200,000 house and an insurance policy with a 5% deductible (on the coverage limit) it would be best to know that you have a $10,000 deductible before you have a claim. Someone that doesn’t know their policy might think that it is 5% per the cost of the claim.

Deductibles are just one of many facets to an insurance policy. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your policy and policy coverages and consult your independent insurance when ever you have any questions.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Auto Liability Basics

Auto insurance liability limits come in a few different forms as well as in many different levels. The two main forms of auto insurance liability are “Split Limits” and “Combined Single Limit”. One main thing to first understand about auto insurance liability limits is that these limits are what’s used by the insurance company to pay out on your behalf the damages that you cause to someone’s body and or property. Auto insurance liability limits are not used to pay money toward your injuries or property damage. Those coverages are auto insurance medical payments coverage, comprehensive coverage, collision coverage and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. We will not be addressing those items in this blog post.

Split Limits have three different ceilings or maxes that the insurance policy will pay out. Those three different maxes are “bodily injury per person”, “bodily injury per accident” and “property damage”. Often you will see insurance policies with split limits of $250,000 bodily injury per person and $500,000 bodily injury per accident and $100,000 in property damage. What this means is that if you cause an auto accident the most that one individual will get for their bodily injuries is $250,000 from your insurance policy. If there are multiple people in the other party’s vehicle then the most the policy will pay out is $500,000 in bodily injury to all involved. Accidents that you cause will usually result in property damage to others and $100,000 is the max that the above example limits will pay for someone else vehicle or property.

Combined Single Limit still covers bodily injury and property damage but there is only one lumped together limit for the policy. For example if you have a $500,000 combined single limit policy than the most the other party will receive for their bodily injuries (no matter how many people are in the vehicle) and property damage that you cause is $500,000. There is not a per person limit sublimit nor a property damage sublimit.

There are many different levels of auto insurance liability limits you can have. Each state has a minimum which means you at least have to have the amount they require in order to legally operate a vehicle. This limit is usually very low and in order to best protect your assets and help restore people that you cause injury and damage to we recommend much higher limits of insurance. Obviously the higher the limits of insurance you purchase the more money the insurance policy will cost but extra money you spend could be the difference in protecting your assets after a large claim or have the possibility of losing some of your assets.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Protecting Your Customer's Sensitive Information

Businesses subject to the Financial Modernization Act of 1999 (also know as the Graham-Leach-Bliley Act) are required to comply with provisions that protect personal and financial information to maintain the trust and confidence of their customers.

Companies should develop a written information security plan that describes, among other things, the specific ways their employees should protect consumer information.

Sloppy handling of personal and identifying information can be devastating to a small business. A breach of security of this information can lead to personal identification theft of customers, and can open the company up to liability. The loss of reputation alone can destroy an otherwise successful company. So how can your company take steps to protect your customer’s information? Here are five steps that you might consider implementing:

1. Create a paper trail that documents your operations. Once you know where the trail starts and ends, you can analyze each step and develop a plan ensuring security of information. Limit access to sensitive data when possible and dispose of sensitive documents by shredding.

2. Electronic data should be protected with passwords and encryption.

3. If you use third-party services in the process of taking care of your customers, make sure they adhere to strict privacy standards. Ask for a copy of their privacy guidelines.

4. Regularly communicate with employees regarding your company’s privacy activities. Reference compliance within your employee handbook.

5. Have a plan to guide you if there is a breach of security. Know who to contact, what data to protect and how long it should take to plug the gap. You should also have a plan for notifying affected customers in the event of a breach.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Secure Data with Dropbox

I recently posted an article about data loss and the risk of losing hard to restore information from your computer. In the article it was mentioned that we would share a few more specific examples of ways to protect your computer data from total loss. One example of securing your data and backing it up is a service called Dropbox. Dropbox is a cloud like program. This means that all your computer data is safely secured on different Dropbox servers throughout the country as well as on your personal computer. If your personal computer ever suffered a hard drive crash, was stolen or was damaged in a fire all you would need to do is replace your computer and download all your data from the Dropbox servers. You can do 2GB of storage for free or pay $9.99 a month for 50GB of storage. If 50GB is still not enough you can pay $19.99 a month for 100GB of storage.

When you install Dropbox on your computer it creates a folder that you can copy and past your files into. You can copy and past document, video, music files, etc. When you place these items into the Dropbox folder on your computer it then syncs the information with the Dropbox servers via an internet connection. If you have multiple devices like iPads, iPhones or if everyone in your family has a different laptop you can all share one account and load each device’s information into the same Dropbox account. It then syncs and backs up all devices. This also allows you to access each others information from any device via the Dropbox folder on your computer, mobile device or even a special website that is created for each account. Not only does it back up and secure your information it also makes it easier to access from anywhere.

Dropbox is probably better fit for personal use. Depending on the size of your business it may not be the best option as it does have a 100GB storage limit. I will be sure to post soon about how businesses can best secure their data as well as have some future posts on how to use insurance products to help restore your data.