Have you heard of the new trend “Cyber liability insurance”?  Everyone’s doing it, come on you know you want too. 

These days, information is so readily available on the internet some private information is bound to get out.  For some companies this is a huge liability and they don’t even know it. I am sure you have been one of the thousands of people to get a letter from your bank issuing you a new bank card because their security has been compromised.  Have you ever really thought about how much it costs a company to fix a massive security breach such as that?  Having to change thousand of account numbers and reprint cards and checks to go along with it, not to mention any fraudulent charges?

Please understand that it’s not just the big companies that are targeted by hackers, in most cases it is the smaller companies who have much less security.  If your company does any sort of billing online or even ask for some information such as names and addresses you are at risk.  Do you think you could handle the financial burden of cleaning up that mess, not to mention losing business from shutting down your website until the situation is fixed?

The time is now to call your agent about obtaining Cyber Liability Insurance.  These policies can be very comprehensive and even include a crisis management program and consultant in the event of a claim.  I would recommend this coverage to anyone, and I mean anyone doing business on the web.

So, what is a blog anyway?

So, what is a blog anyway?  Many of you may be asking yourself this question often, and I am here to answer it for you.  Well the object of this blog, as you may have noticed, is to get the good word of insurance out to the world.  We try to put it in Layman’s terms for even the most inexperienced person to be able to understand insurance.  That said, your blog does not have to be used for these reasons. 

A blog is anything you want it to be.  It can be a personal journal or diary. It can be a source for you to get information out to the world.  It can be a compilation of information for your own personal use.  Basically, its whatever you make of it.  Maybe you are having a baby and you want to track your progress, or maybe you have a really strong opinion on an issue and want to share it with the world

Since this is an insurance blog, I must give you some words of advice.  Be careful about what you put out on the internet.  If your words are hurtful to someone else’s reputation, the do have the right to sue you for slander or defamation.  These charges are not to be taken lightly.  IN the even that this does happen, in most cases your home insurance liability will kick in.  Be aware that you may only have $300,000-$500,000 worth of coverage on your home policy and depending on the lawsuit, this will probably not be enough.  There is however, another policy you can buy for a reasonable amount of money called an umbrella policy.  This will cover you for an additional $1mil-$5mil for liability coverage as long as the policy contains “personal injury” coverage which is the portion that covers slander etc. 

As always, I recommend calling your insurance agent to get more details on this coverage.

1. Seeing Red:  So, you have always wanted to buy that cherry red car, though, you were worried that your insurance rates would go up because of it.  Well I am here to tell you that you can go out and get that car of your dreams!  The color of your car is not a factor considered in your insurance rates.  It is a dirty little rumor started back in the 80′s because most sports cars came in the color red.  The fact that they were sports cars is what triggered the increase in premiums, not the color. 

2. Floods are covered:  WRONG.  Any run of the mill home owners insurance policy adamantly excludes flood coverage.  This is an all to common myth that has sunk many a home owner.  Please call your agent if you feel you may be at risk for a flood.  YOU NEED TO BUY THIS COVERAGE SEPERATELY.

3.  “Full Coverage”:  When the average person says they have full coverage on their car, most of the time they assume that if they total their car, a brand new one will be waiting for them when they get home. WRONG.  The average auto insurance policy will only cover you for the book value of your car, which for most people is a few thousand dollars less than the price to replace it with a brand new car.  Luckily for you, most companies now offer an endorsement to auto policies that will give you a new car, BUT keep in mind that this extra coverage needs to be added, IT IS NOT INCLUDED on your current policy.  Again, I will say this, call your agent to make sure you have this coverage before it’s too late.

Stay tuned for more myths to be busted later in the week…

Good night Irene…

Irene is being retired from the list of storm names because the 2011 hurricane killed 49 people and caused more than $15 billion in damage.

A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the name will be replaced by Irma. Irene was retired Friday from the official list of Atlantic Basin tropical storm names by the World Meteorological Organization’s hurricane committee.

The report said storm names are reused every six years unless retired for causing considerable casualties or damage. Irene is the 76th name to be retired from the Atlantic list since 1954.

Five people were killed in the Dominican Republic after Hurricane Irene stormed through the Caribbean last August. Three died in Haiti. And 41 died in the U.S. when Irene barreled up the Eastern Seaboard.

It’s a rite of passage for college students to don cap and gown and march for graduation ceremonies- in fact, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), nearly 1.8 million students will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in 2012. As those 1.8 million make the transition from undergraduates to careers, pursuit of advanced degrees or back into mom and dad’s basement, it’s critical that they understand how walking across that stage may have changed their insurance needs.

While every individual’s needs are unique, here are five basic insurance coverages that all college grads should consider, to see if they apply:

Auto insurance
A shiny new car, whether owned or leased, holds appeal for newly employed college grads. Auto insurance helps cope with the expenses of accidents, vandalism or theft.  A lender or leasing company that finances the vehicle will require auto insurance. Car accidents can create large liabilities for a driver, so the liability portion of auto coverage helps protect the bank account. Plus, auto insurance covers many legal expenses if a driver is sued. If a graduate who already owns a car is moving, where they keep and register the car, especially from one state to another, can impact coverage. It’s important for new graduates to let their insurance agent know about these moves to make sure their current coverage will still apply, or if they’ll need a new policy.

Health insurance
Under the new federal health care law, children can remain on their parent’s health insurance policy until age 26. With unemployment and underemployment high among those in their early twenties, this can provide many recent grads with health insurance until they are able to get it through their employer or an individual policy. Individual policies can be pricey and differ significantly in coverage, so talk with a Trusted Choice® insurance professional about what makes the most sense. 

Homeowners or renters insurance
College grads starting out may not own a home yet, but may rent a residence. To make sure their possessions are protected, homeowners and renters insurance offer comprehensive coverage whether at home or traveling. Liability insurance included in renters and homeowners coverage also helps protects against the risk of being sued. There usually are limitations on renters coverages within a group house—a typical post-graduate arrangement—so it is important to understand the details of a policy. 

Life insurance
New grads may find a job with an employer that offers group term life insurance coverage. However, those with children may find it worthwhile to buy additional term life insurance or permanent life insurance, which builds cash value over time.

Disability insurance
This is a vital but often-overlooked insurance coverage. It provides income when a person is injured or disabled, whether on the job or off. A Trusted Choice® insurance professional can calculate the right amount of coverage to help a person live while recovering. 

New college grads may want to lean financially on their parents’ insurance coverages as long as possible (though mom and dad might feel a little differently!). While that makes sense, it’s not always viable. For instance, auto insurance companies will require an owner or lessee of a car to carry their own coverage. There are plenty of insurance policies out there that new grads won’t need, unless there are special circumstances, such as air travel insurance, contact lens insurance or cancer insurance. Typically, it is better to have comprehensive policies like renters or health.

Parents of new graduates also should take this time to review their own insurance portfolios, as there may be opportunities to reduce their premiums when child moves out of the home.

What will be the hot technology over the next few years? While no one can say for certain, it’s not difficult to make a case for smartphones and mobile devices.

Consider these numbers: In the fourth quarter of 2011 alone, according to industry observers, 157.8 million smartphones flew off store shelves worldwide, bringing the total for the year to 491.4 million units. AverageU.S.smartphone ownership is at 41.8 percent of mobile subscribers, or 98 million people.

Industry reports indicate smartphone sales are expected to hit 1.5 billion units globally in 2016. Over the next five years, sales will see a 30 percent compound annual growth rate. By 2016, these devices are reportedly set to make up about two-thirds of all mobile phone sales. If you compare this with the number of PCs sold this year, which stood at 350 million units, smartphones are clearly going to be the gadget of choice for customers accessing the Internet.

Smartphones and mobile devices have forever changed the way we communicate. We’re now permanently connected—wherever we go. Work, family, friends, schedules, and finances are all instantly available. And while there are obvious downsides, we still expect and demand immediacy in almost everything.

Unlike cell phones of the past 20 years, smartphones provide a richer user experience on many levels:

  • A sophisticated camera is always available to take, send, post, and store thousands of pictures.
  • The GPS capability always “knows” where you are and can guide you to places such as restaurants and shopping venues.
  • Apps with Internet connections provide instant connectivity to your bank, insurance company, airline, department store, social network, and most accounts with online access.
  • Your entire music collection is always with you.
  • And yes, your mobile device is even good for phone calls, texts, and email.

 Paperless Insurance 

As a macro trend, mobile technology is increasingly facilitating customer self-service. Consumers are demanding instant access to services and information, and the use of paper and traditional mail services continues to decline.

For example, pending legislation in several states would permit drivers to use their smartphone apps to show their insurance ID card virtually. These states include Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, and Mississippi as of first-quarter 2012. This trend may continue as more and more states bring similar bills to the floor of the legislature. The new era of paperless insurance documentation is already here and gaining ground as more insurers commit resources to mobile app development as a cost-saving initiative. As mobile apps provide more options for policyholders, insurers can realize savings on printing and postage.

Both mobile technology and social media have altered the way recent generations think about privacy and sharing information. Should your mobile device allow you to connect to other policyholders who live nearby when you have the same agent or insurance company? Could such a network support ride sharing or the pooling of certain services? While most people rely heavily on their cars, could the combination of rising fuel costs and the emergence of technology-based services change the way people think about transportation options? Commercial ride-sharing companies have already been launched in many urban markets.

Afraid of being abducted by aliens? How about being reincarnated into an animal that you loathe? Perhaps you worry about injuring one of your signature body parts because your livelihood depends on your impeccable taste buds, soprano voice or sexy legs.

Not to worry. You can buy insurance for just about anything — including your voice, body and fears. Celebrities, sports stars, corporations and even the paranoid can buy themselves peace of mind in the event that their fears are realized.

If you’re among those worried about unexpected trips to outer space, Mike St. Lawrence will be happy to sell you alien abduction insurance. As president of UFO Abduction & Casualty Insurance Co., he’s sold policies to tens of thousands all over the world — including actress Shirley MacLaine and television host Larry King. A policy will cost you $25 for lifetime coverage. If you are abducted and manage to return, it promises up to $10 million in coverage to pay for medical and psychiatric care and the emotional distress you will suffer from being teased by friends and relatives.

This policy includes a “frequent-flyer endorsement” and also doubles your coverage if the aliens insist on conjugal visits.

“The premiums are very reasonable and you can’t be turned down because of your age or frequent-flyer status,” Lawrence says. “Only if you don’t have a sense of humor.”

Since its inception in 1987, the company has paid out two claims (both from New York state), says Lawrence. In the event of a claim, the company pays you $1 per year for 10 million to 20 million years, depending on the circumstances.

It’s a tough job, but they’re insured to do it

The famous aren’t the only ones who insure their body parts, says Moraga. Food critic and gourmet Egon Ronay bought a $400,000 insurance policy on his taste buds. The chief taster for Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream also insured his good taste, or at least his tasting ability, for $1 million.

Lloyd’s issued an almost equally “tasteful” insurance policy to a whiskey distiller who insured his nose.

Another item insured by Lloyd’s: the world’s largest cigar (weighing almost 240 lbs.), which took 315 hours to make using 15,903 full tobacco leaves and which would require 339 uninterrupted days and nights to smoke.

Companies insure the oddest things

The TV game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” doesn’t want to pay if you win big, so they insure against having to pay major prizes through Lloyd’s.

Cutty Sark whiskey also bought a policy from Lloyd’s so it wouldn’t risk paying one million pounds to the winner of a contest. What was the whiskey company afraid of? That someone might capture the Loch Ness monster alive.

Many companies will also insure their top employees against dying or becoming disabled. It’s called “key person” or “key man” insurance. CEOs and CFOs are commonly insured, with any payouts going to their employers.

“Those key people, when they leave, can affect the whole company’s financial status,” Moraga says. “Microsoft has it for [Bill] Gates and Apple had it for Steve Jobs.”

Then are many other unique insurance products. For example, residents of northern Australia can purchase insurance against being attacked by crocodiles through the Northern Territory Insurance Office.

What are you nuts??  There are a few really good reasons for having tenant insurance and without it, you might find yourself up a creek financially.

For one, as a tenant you are liable – yes, legally responsible – for any harm you cause to any part of your building and to others who live or visit there. Yikes! If your faulty toaster oven starts a fire that damages not only your apartment, but also the entire complex, you may have to pay out a lot of money.

You could even find yourself in trouble if your party guests get out of hand and cause damage.

Then there are your possessions. You might not think that you have much of real value, but what if you had to replace them all at once, due to fire or water damage?

Replacing your clothing, alone, could run you a few thousand dollars. You don’t want to end up shopping at a story that rhymes with sprawl-mart do you?

And that old couch and bed might not look like much, but buying new ones would be hard on the wallet.

When you consider what it would cost to replace everything, monthly insurance premiums may look pretty good by comparison.

One more thing you might want to think about: Talk to your insurance representative about getting an insurance policy that will pay for the full cost to replace what you’ve lost. The alternative is a settlement based on how much your old stuff was actually worth, given that it was old.

L

Ha! They say NJ has road rage…

This just in, Governor Christie signs Jessica Rogers’ Road Rage Bill.  This bill allows for increased criminal penalties, up to third degree, for bodily harm caused through the aggressive operation of an auto or vessel, commonly known as “road rage”.  I guess a few people didn’t thing there were enough laws in place to punish those a bit more emotional while driving.  Of course this was in response to a real instance in which Jessica Rogers was severely injured and ultimately paralyzed from the chest down due to a very aggressive driver who caused an accident.

My advice-chill out people, or you could be facing some serious charges!!

Agent vs. buying direct…

With all the commercials and ads these days, it is sometimes hard to get to the bottom of who to buy insurance from, a lizard, or your local agent.  Many people these days don’t even fathom buying from an agent because they think it involves walking into an office and handing over all of their personal information to some stranger.  On the other hand they could just type all of their info into some possibly unsecure website right from their living room.   For most situations, I would always pick the later of the two choices I have just presented above, however, insurance may be one of the few exceptions I would make. I mean really, what gives you the same knowledge to purchase the right insurance as an educated insurance agent who had dedicated thousands of man hours just to make sure you are covered?

If you are one of these silly people who has decided to buy their own insurance without so much as a bit of advice from a licensed professional insurance agent, you could be paying big time not only when you have a claim, but right now!  Think of all the discounts you could be missing out on.  Not to mention the millions of dollars you could be liable for if you ever do have a claim and you aren’t covered properly.

In the end, to each is own and many people are lazy and will continue to buy insurance from a reptile, or a crazy red haired store clerk with a white apron.  My only advice to these people are, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.