Labor Day is coming soon — which means that you might have children who will be heading off, or back, to college soon. Together with the many lifestyle changes that they (and you) will be making in this time of transition, remember that it’s also important to give your insurance a tune-up.
A recent industry report recommends considering these types of insurance when Johnny or Sally leaves the nest:
- Auto: Your family coverage will cost less if your student doesn’t take a car. Also, if your child keeps a B average or higher, you might receive a discount.
- Housing: If the child happens to live in a dormitory, your Homeowners insurance might protect them.
- Health: Your child is eligible to receive health benefits through your plan — as long as they’re unmarried, remain in school full time, and are younger than 26 (under the Affordable Care Act) Once they exceed this age, you’ll need to obtain coverage for them from your employer.
These are general guidelines, so please consult with us to make sure you have the right protection at the best possible price. Even if your child already is at school, give us a call and we can make adjustments if needed.
If you’ve ever shopped around for insurance, you’ve likely been asked if you want to bundle your policies—in other words, combine your home or renters, auto and life insurance policies with the same carrier. Although you have the option to shop around individually for each policy, it almost always makes sense to have the same carrier cover as many of your policies as possible.
Benefits of Bundling
- The discount—Most policyholders bundle their policies because of the promise of a discount. The amount varies by provider but can generally range between 5-25 percent.
- The option of a single deductible—With bundled policies, your deductible may be cheaper in the event of a claim that affects multiple policies. For example, if your home and auto policies are with two separate carriers, and a hailstorm damages your home and your car, you’re responsible for paying both your home and auto deductibles before receiving payment. But if you bundle your policies, your provider may offer you the option to pay only the higher of the two deductibles.
- Less chance of being dropped—If you’ve made claims or gotten tickets, having your policies bundled with one provider can decrease the chance of them dropping you.
When it Doesn’t Pay to Bundle
It isn’t always better to bundle your policies with one insurance carrier. Here’s when it may be better to split them up:
- If you have tickets or past claims that make your auto insurance expensive—In this case, it may be cheaper overall to buy each policy from separate providers.
- When premiums increase—Bundling discourages people from price shopping, which makes it easier for providers to increase their rates. Most assume that you won’t go through the effort of shopping around when your policies renew.
- If policies aren’t technically bundled—Some carriers may insure you with an affiliated company. Although you may get a discount with that company, you’ll lose the convenience of paying your premium with one familiar provider.
A Few Tips to Consider
Although discounts are the main reason people bundle their insurance policies, never assume that bundling is the cheapest option. Your needs and circumstances will dictate whether you should combine your policies with one carrier. Consider the following tips:
- Shop for new coverage when your policies renew, and ask for the price of the individual premiums as well as the price of the bundled premium so you can decide whether it is worth it. Just make sure you compare the same coverage when shopping for quotes from each carrier.
- Ask if the provider uses a third-party insurance company. Remember that you may save money but lose the convenience of dealing with one provider and a combined bill.
- Ask an independent insurance agent to get prices from multiple companies so you don’t have to do the legwork. An agent that is loyal to a particular carrier may be able to offer discounts that you can’t get alone.
With multiple factors contributing to the price of your insurance premiums, it is important to shop around in order to get the best rate for your insurance needs. Feel free to contact Scurich Insurance to determine if bundling is right for you and help you take advantage of all available discounts.
Self-driving vehicles may feel like something that will only be available in the distant future, but autonomous technology is already having an impact on the transportation industry. Many motor carriers are promoting new equipment to attract tech-savvy drivers, and advanced safety sensors are helping decrease accidents on the road.
Over 30 automakers and technology companies are working to make trucks fully autonomous, and many states have already passed self-driving legislation that allows for testing on public roads. But, even though this technology offers motor carriers a way to increase efficiency and improve safety, there are a number of topics your business needs to consider before adopting self-driving trucks.
The Different Levels of Automation
Most of the technology used in autonomous vehicles is an evolution of common safety features that use vehicle-mounted cameras and sensors, such as automatic brakes, lane departure systems and blind spot alerts. However, self-driving technology takes this concept a step further by having these systems work together to perform some or all driving functions.
Because there are multiple self-driving systems in development that offer different levels of autonomy, most companies use a system developed by SAE International to classify levels of autonomous vehicles. Levels 0-2 mainly define limited control systems that are commonly available in consumer and commercial vehicles:
- Level 0: No automation – The driver performs all driving tasks, but automated system issue warnings may be present.
- Level 1: Driver assistance – The vehicle and driver may share control in limited circumstances, such as adaptive cruise control and parking assistance. However, the driver must be ready to retake control at all times.
- Level 2: Partial automation – The vehicle has combined automatic functions (such as controlling acceleration and steering simultaneously), but the driver must be constantly engaged and aware of the surrounding environment.
Levels 3-5 define vehicles that are commonly referred to as autonomous or self-driving:
- Level 3: Conditional automation – A driver must still be present, but doesn’t have to monitor the environment. However, they must be ready to take control at all times and with no notice.
- Level 4: High automation – The vehicle can perform all driving functions under certain conditions, and switching control back to the driver may be optional.
- Level 5: Full automation – The vehicle can perform all driving functions at all times.
How Can Self-driving Trucks Help Carriers?
Self-driving trucks could help motor carriers address a number of common issues:
- Safety – Properly functioning self-driving systems operate without the chance of human error and can react to changing traffic patterns faster than a regular driver.
- Driver shortage – Regulations likely won’t allow vehicles to operate without a driver in the near future. However, the technology will attract applicants who don’t want to spend long stretches of time in full control of a commercial truck.
- Increased efficiency – Autonomous technology can give carriers real-time information on location, maintenance status and traffic patterns in order to increase efficiency and better manage fleets.
- Cost reductions – Motor carriers can reduce costs by sending autonomous trucks on more fuel-efficient routes or by platooning the vehicles together to reduce air drag.
What Risks Does This Technology Present?
Although autonomous technology is advancing rapidly, there are still a number of risks and obstacles to overcome before the vehicles can be widely adopted:
- Public perception – Advanced sensors generally make self-driving trucks safe, but recent high-profile collisions and fatalities during tests have lowered the public’s opinion of the technology.
- Long-term employment – Autonomous technology will help to attract new drivers in the near future, but some experts believe that fully independent vehicles may someday eliminate millions of jobs.
- Liability – The liability of an accident involving human-driven vehicles is fairly easy to judge. However, self-driving trucks bring a nonhuman factor into the equation that makes it difficult to determine if an operator, technology developer, manufacturer or other party is at fault for an accident.
- Compliance – Individual states, cities and jurisdictions currently manage laws regarding the testing and use of self-driving trucks, making interstate commerce more complicated. However, the FMCSA recently requested feedback on the regulations that would have to be updated, modified or eliminated to safely allow for the use of autonomous vehicles. Key questions discussed by the agency include the following:
- How will motor carriers ensure automatic systems are functioning properly?
- What changes, if any, should be made to distracted driving regulations?
- How will enforcement officials determine a vehicle’s SAE classification level, and would easily identifiable classification signage negatively affect other drivers?
- How should a driver’s hours of service be recorded when using an automated driving system?
Considering Your Options
As self-driving vehicles continue to develop, your business should carefully consider how both the advantages and risks of this new technology will impact its operations. Contact us at 831-661-5697 today for help analyzing your unique risk exposures.
Ticks and Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a bacterium that’s often carried by mice and other small rodents. The disease can be transmitted to humans if they’re bitten by a tick that previously fed off an infected animal.
Different types of ticks live in the United States and while some can transmit diseases, others are only a nuisance. In general, infected blacklegged ticks can transmit the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.
Symptoms of Lyme disease typically develop within two weeks of a tick bite and can include fevers, chills, swollen lymph nodes, neck stiffness, fatigue, headaches, and joint or muscle aches.
To avoid contracting Lyme disease, do the following:
- Wear light-colored clothing, including long-sleeved shirts and pants when in wooded areas. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and keep long hair tied back.
- Wash your body and clothing after all outdoor activities.
- Look periodically for ticks if you’ve been outdoors, especially if you’ve been in wooded areas or gardens.
- Remove ticks within 24 hours to greatly reduce the risk of contracting Lyme disease.
- Check your pet’s coat if it’s been in an area known for ticks.
Remember to consult your health care provider as soon as you experience Lyme disease symptoms. If possible, send any ticks that you’ve removed to a public health laboratory in your area. Click here to learn more.
Keeping Mold Out of the Home
A mold problem in the home can cause serious health effects, especially for young children, the elderly, those who suffer from allergies or asthma, and those with prior respiratory conditions. Mold can cause eye irritation, nasal stuffiness, shortness of breath, wheezing and infections in the lungs.
Though most molds grow outdoors, they can get inside a home through open windows and doors, air conditioning systems, pets, clothing and shoes. Try these prevention tips to keep mold out of your home:
- Clean up any water damage or flooding thoroughly and immediately.
- Use a dehumidifier and a wet-dry vacuum to remove water quickly.
- Remove carpeting that can’t be dried out within 48 hours. If your carpet was contaminated by sewer water or a flood, it needs to be replaced.
- Repair basement cracks so that moisture can’t seep in.
- Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to reduce indoor moisture, especially during humid months. Empty the drip pans in your air conditioner, refrigerator and dehumidifier on a regular basis to prevent water buildup.
- Fix plumbing leaks immediately. Mold will begin to grow within 24 to 48 hours after a leak forms.
Protecting Your Vehicle from Hail
Hail can strike anywhere and at any time, causing major damage to your vehicle. When a hailstorm occurs, take the following precautions to keep you and your vehicle safe:
- Don’t get out of your vehicle if you’re driving during a hailstorm. If you can pull over to the side of the road, do so safely.
- Park your car on an angle so that the hail hits the front of your car. This protects your side and rear windows, which aren’t made of reinforced glass.
- Find covered parking to protect your car, like a parking garage or awning. If you live in a hailstorm-prone area, it may be a good idea to purchase or build a covered parking solution for your home, like a metal canopy or garage.
- Use blankets or a hail car cover. These items can be very effective in protecting vehicles from damage, especially if you’re far away from shelter.
- Locate a body shop that you trust to make any necessary repairs. Discuss the extent of the damage with the body shop and your insurance broker.
Hotel Safety Tips
Hotels provide a home away from home whenever you travel. However, hotels aren’t always safe, and vacationers are at risk of things like break-ins, fires and natural disasters.
The following are some general hotel safety tips to keep in mind to protect yourself from a variety of risks:
- Check reviews for security concerns. Guest reviews can provide information on the area’s crime level and steps the hotel takes to protect guests.
- Use hotels that restrict access to guest floors.
- Check your room lock to confirm it’s working properly. Make sure that the door has a deadbolt and keep it locked whenever you’re in the room.
- Lock away valuable items you won’t be carrying with you in the room’s safe. This can include things like money, jewelry, laptops or other electronics.
- Be wary of people that come to the door claiming to be hotel staff.
The right auto policy can be invaluable following a vehicle theft. If you have comprehensive coverage on your policy, your insurer can help pay to replace your lost car. Most policies can even provide rental car coverage until your stolen vehicle is recovered or considered lost. For more information on car insurance, contact Scurich Insurance today.
If you suspect your vehicle has been stolen, do the following:
Call the police. The sooner you notify the proper authorities, the more likely you are to recover your vehicle. You will want to share everything about your car that you can, including its make, model, licence plate number and VIN number.
Report the stolen car to your insurer. Once you’ve completed a police report, you should contact your car insurance company. You can often file a report using your insurer’s claims hotline. You should also consider contacting your local motor vehicle department, as they typically maintain a database of stolen vehicles.
Report the theft to your finance or leasing company. If you still owe money to a financing or leasing company, you will want to inform them that your vehicle has been stolen. Often, these companies work directly with insurers following vehicle thefts.
While there’s a chance authorities may recover your stolen vehicle, it’s best to try to prevent thefts altogether. Make sure you always lock your car and take your keys with you. Never keep a spare set of keys hidden in your car or leave the vehicle running unattended. Parking in well-lit areas and hiding valuables that might attract thieves can also be useful.
The Problem with Minimum Coverage
Most states require drivers to carry basic liability coverage, which pays for injury and property damages if you are found at fault following an accident. These limits vary by state but can be as low as $10,000 per person or $20,000 per accident.
If you get into an accident, there’s a chance you could be sued. When this happens, minimum liability coverage may not be sufficient to cover the damages, and you could end up paying thousands of dollars out of your own pocket.
What’s more, if you cause an accident and your liability limits are too low to cover the expenses, the other party might go after your assets in court. To protect yourself, it’s important to think critically about how much coverage you need and to secure the proper limits.
How Much Auto Insurance Should I Carry?
While it can be tempting to simply pay the lowest amount possible for auto insurance, doing so can leave you exposed to serious financial risks. In general, it’s recommended that you carry more than the minimum coverage unless you are driving an older car with little value and have no assets to protect.
Did You Know? Insurance is mandatory in order to operate a vehicle in the United States, and every state has specific coverage limits that you must meet. While meeting these minimum limits may be enough to get you on the road, they are often inadequate if you are involved in a serious accident. As such, you may want to consider raising your limits in order to secure the right protection.
The higher you set your coverage limits and the lower you set your deductibles, the less you’ll pay out of pocket after a claim. You will need to determine how much you can comfortably afford when setting your coverage limits and deductibles.
Raising your limits and paying a little more each month will allow you to get the most out of your investment.
Customize Your Policy
When it comes to auto insurance, you have many options. Contact your insurance broker today. They will be able to discuss different ways to customize auto insurance policies, including adjusting collision, comprehensive, medical expenses, uninsured motorist and no-fault coverage. They can also recommend specific policy limits given your situation.