Friday, June 6, 2008

Why do I need that much liability?

Julie in Portland emailed us regarding liabilty. She's driving a late model car and its not worth much so she doesn't see the need for anything more than the amount required by the state of Oregon, carrying the minimum is never a good idea. I've heard it all; the car isn't worth anything, I don't drive it that often, I'm a safe driver, none of them are a good reason to not carry as much liability as you can afford.

Lets say for example Julie is driving through downtown and she's hit in the rear by another car that didn't see her brake lights, no problem right? In this case she might be ok, there's 25,000 medical for her and a total of 50,000 on that policy so hopefully she only has one passenger and neither are hurt badly. Sure, the state allows you to go after them for the rest of the money but how long is that going to take and how many bills are going to pile up in the meantime if they're unable to pay? Now lets say that same car runs a red light and strikes Julie on the drivers side of her vehicle while she's traveling with 3 of her friends and then flees the scene. Now where does that leave Julie and her friends? Her policy is going to pay that same 25,000 per person and 50,000 total and the rest is going to be their responsibility unless they can prove who the other driver is. What if she didn't have friends in the car but her children instead? Don't your friends and family mean enough to you to carry enough liabilty to protect them?

The same scenario can happen is Julie is the driver at fault, and she will find herself being asked to pay the balance that the auto policy doesn't. Do you want that to be you? Add into that, what if the car you hit isn't a late model car worth about 5,000? What if its a brand new BMW and you total that? There's another hand out asking for money. By carrying higher liability you protect yourself even if you're not at fault in an accident. If Julie was carrying 250,000 per person and 500,000 per loss after the at fault drivers policy paid out her own would cover the balance up to those higher limits.

I'm sure a few of you are mumbling under your breath about now, its the at fault drivers responsibilty to pay; true but what if they can't pay it all at once? Those hospital bills are still going to arrive and you're still going to have to replace that car if the payments come within a month of over a few years. Does this make you think twice about those state minimum coverages? For extra protection above and beyond your auto policy there are also liability umbrellas, these are often thought of for people who earn a lot therefore have a lot to lose but they can benefit anyone. They're available in 1 million dollar increments and cover the face amount over and above the liability on your regular policy. This includes homes, recreational vehicles and boats. Note that not all umbrella policies are created equal just as all auto policies are not, coverage varies so you should always ask. Not sure what to ask? Email us and we'll send you a list of basic questions to ask to make sure that "great deal" you're being offered is really as great as it looks. With Umbrellas the important coverage is Un-Insured and Under-Insured Motorist coverage. Not all Umbrella policies have it; in fact, most companies don't offer it at all. Isn't your family more important to you that a stranger you meet on the street? Why would you pay for more coverage if you injure him but not your family?

As always, please send Email any insurance related questions to our office, we'd be happy to help and review your current coverage with any carrier.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fire Safety

Fire is something people think will never happen to them, until it does. You can never be too careful about proper safety in you home to help prevent fires and protect yourself in the event one does happen. When the time change happened a few weeks ago did you check your smoke detector and replace the batteries if it was a standard battery type? Its also good to note that the Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue Department tells us that the average smoke detector is only good about 10 years so it is a good idea to check your detector and see if its time for replacement. Check the back of the unit for its manufacturing date and if it has been 10 years don't take the chance, replace it today. You can find more great information about smoke detectors, how to select one and what to do with your old one on the Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue's website.

So you think your home is safe from fire risk? No one is immune to the risk of fire but taking the proper steps can help save the life of you and your family. I've seen fire in my own home and was fortunate enough to be awake and in the room before any real damage was done. I was putting covers back on the outlets after painting the bedroom and there was a short in the wire I was unaware of. When I started to screw the plate down the wire sparked and caught fire, the electrical current short threw me half way across the room. After seeing that I was ok my husband ran to turn off the breaker and I put the fire out with an extinguisher. My next move was a call to a licensed electrician to have the wiring checked in my old home to replace that wire and any others that could be a potential hazard. If that same short had sparked while I was asleep it could have gone on to catch the wall, curtains and anything else in the area on fire. If there wasn't a smoke detector to alert me to the problem I could well have slept through it until the fire threatened my life and my ability to safely exit my home. This isn't a situation anyone should have to find themselves in.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Driving in Spring

My calendar tells me it's should be spring, but as I look out the window the weather looks anything but spring-like. Light rain and some snow forecast for the mountains make it seem more like January than April. Saturday April 5th was the last day for driving with tire studs on your car so ODOT is recommending carrying chains.
Remember wet roads can be just as dangerous as snow and ice covered roads so use care when you're out driving. An accident where you lose control is an accident that will cause an increase in your auto rates. While the police department won't issue a ticket for this type of accident doesn't mean a claim filed for repair damage isn't considered chargeable. If you're wondering if a claim would be considered your "fault" by your insurance carrier, think about it in terms of cause not fault. When two cars collide one of the vehicles is usually at fault, their actions were the cause of the accident. If it's just you and you slide off the road and damage your car; your decisions, from the speed you were driving, the road you were on, the fact that you went out at all - these were your cause of you having the accident. There was no other car or animal to cause your slide so the insurance company is going to see it as your fault.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Renters Insurance - What if?

What if...
  • Someone broke into your apartment while you were away and takes everything?
  • Someone trips and falls and blames you for the injury?
  • Your electronics are destroyed by a power surge?
  • Your building catches fire and you have no place to stay?

These are all things covered by your renters insurance. Lets start with the most obvious, theft. This is the most well known reason for a renter to carry insurance, to protect the things you own. If they are stolen your policy will pay to replace them with new; in the event of a fire or water damage your policy will pay to restore what you have if its possible or replace it. Can you afford to replace all you have if there is a total loss? If you think you could I'd suggest you go through your apartment or home and make an inventory of all you have. Start with the furniture and figure the cost if you had to go out today and buy a replacement. After you finish with that look at all the movies, CD's, clothes and don't forget everything in your kitchen cupboards. You'll find a lot more than you think.

Protect all you have with a renters insurance policy before a loss happens. We also have discounts if you write your auto insurance, the discount of the premium of the car insurance will often offset the cost of the renters insurance so you will get the added protection you need now, before its too late.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Why Do You Need Renters Insurance?

I was out last week visiting a few of the apartments in the city and was talking with a renter in the Beaverton area. She said she'd been asked before about renters insurance and really didn't see the point of it. All the furnishings she had were given to her by family and friends or picked up second hand so there really wasn't that much to insure.

What she, and many like her don't realize, is that Renters insurance covers property for its replacement cost. This means that even though she didn't pay for her dining table, it was given to her by her mother when she purchased a new one, if its damaged in a covered loss we will replace it with a new one at current cost. If you lose 20 shirts our claims adjuster isn't going to figure how much each of those shirts are worth today, they'll pay based on the cost to buy 20 new ones to replace them.

There are also many other coverages built into renters policies to make them worth the small cost of coverage. Over the following days I will cover each so please feel free to email any questions you have relating to renters insurance.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Whats the big deal about insurance?

Insurance is something the majority of people never fully understand. They buy it because it's required; either by law, lendor or lessor. Many people only have it because it's required and they don't understand the benefit to them. Even more alarming are the number of people who ignore the law and drive uninsured on our roads every day.

What would happen to you and your family if you were
struck by an uninsured driver?
Who would pay for the medical expenses and
damage to your vehicle?

Normally the driver that hit you is required to pay the bills for these things; but that could involve going to court, which is no quick process, and then there is the matter of the responsible driver's ability to pay.

What if you came home one day to find your house or apartment on fire?

Do you have enough coverage to rebuild and replace what you have? Or do you just have enough to satisfy the requirements for insurance on your loan or lease? If you had to replace every item in your home today how much coverage would be enough? More than you think...

My goal here is to help people understand insurance and how important it is to have the right coverage. I've worked in the industry for 7 years and had the conversation with someone who didn't see the need for the coverage I was recommending to protect them. When they had a loss all I could say was "I'm sorry you don't have coverage for that".

My agency focuses on knowing our clients and making certain we help them choose coverage that is best for their individual situation. We sell insurance, a piece of paper and a promise to be there when you need your coverage. There is nothing more important than making sure each policy I write is the best for each client I serve.

I welcome your insurance related questions even if you're not a client or don't even live in the Portland area. The best insurance starts with understanding your needs and then selecting the best coverage you can afford, not some one size fits all policy that will leave you exposed when a loss happens.