3

You pull into the grocery store parking lot to pick up a few snacks, and park. As you head for the door, you push a button on your keyless remote to lock it. You don’t hear that faint chirp, but you’re in a hurry. Fifteen minutes later, you discover that your car is gone. Welcome to the world of 21st-century auto theft!

On the surface, things appear to be improving. Vehicle thefts fell 3.3% nationwide in 2011 (the most recent data) for the eighth straight year. However, auto theft still costs the nation an estimated $5.8 billion a year, thanks to streetwise thugs who feed chop shops and supply lucrative international black markets. These days, car thieves are becoming smarter, more tech-savvy, and harder than ever to stop.

Anyone can go to a home-improvement store and buy a $20 device that jams the remote keyless entry transmitter on a vehicle. If you aren’t paying attention, you walk away from your vehicle, press the button on the remote, and assume that it locks. However, a thief might be two cars over in the parking lot, punching a button to block the signal. The vehicle doesn’t lock, and the thief can take your laptop, portable GPS, or whatever else is inside. With enough time, he can even steal the vehicle!

To guard against jammers, pay attention to your surroundings and make sure your car doors do indeed lock when you press the button. Listen for the click or chirp, or look for the quick flash of lights that confirmations locking on most cars. If the vehicle doesn’t lock, try again. However, if locking doesn’t work on the second attempt – or if you see someone lurking nearby – move your car to a different spot.

As the old saying goes, An ounce of prevention…

Technorati Tags:

Tagged with:
 


1

Its tax time again. As you travel down the bumpy road of deductions, you might be able to write off some of your car expenses, including a percentage of your insurance premiums:

    • Business use of your car

      If you’re self employed and drive your vehicle for work, or if you have a job and use the car for work-related reasons without reimbursement, you might be able to deduct part of your premium.

      Determine the percentage of time that you use the vehicle for work and then base your deduction for auto expenses (including insurance premiums, as well as gas, oil, repairs, registration fees, lease payments, depreciation, parking and toll fees) on this percentage. To qualify for these deductions, they’ll need to total more than 2% of your adjusted gross income.

      The alternative is to take the standard business mileage deduction (currently 55.5¢ a mile).

  • Loss, theft, or damage

    You may be able to claim a loss deduction if your car is stolen, damaged, or totaled in an accident, provided your policy doesn’t reimburse you for the full loss. You may also be able to write off your insurance deductible as part of a theft or casualty loss. However, you can take the deduction only if an individual loss comes to at least $100 and the total loss for the year tops 10% of gross income.

Be sure to keep all relevant receipts, including expenses and police reports, in case the IRS or insurance company asks for verification.

If you have any questions about getting the most mileage out of possible Auto insurance deductions, feel free to get in touch with one of our Tracy-Driscoll Insurance specialists at (860) 589-3434. As always, we’re here to help!

Technorati Tags: ,

3

Have you ever wondered about the three numbers that are part of your Auto Liability insurance, usually written in this form: XX/YY/ZZ?

The first number refers to the maximum amount of Bodily Injury Liability (BI) for an individual injured in an auto accident; the second is BI per coverage per accident; while the third covers Property Damage Liability (PD) per vehicle. For example a policy with 30/60/15 Liability coverage would pay up to $30,000 in BI per individual, $60,000 worth of BI per vehicle, and $15,000 in PD per vehicle.

Every state requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of Liability coverage under their Auto insurance policy. Limits by state vary from 10/20/10 in Florida to 80/100/25 in Maine. These numbers have remained fairly stable for a number of years.

However, because a car accident can cost far more than the Liability minimums that most states require, people usually carry more coverage. The Insurance Information Institute recommends that you have at least $100,000 of BI protection per person and $300,000 per accident (known as 100/300).

If you hold the minimum coverage required by your state and you’re involved in an accident in another state that requires higher minimum coverage, the chances are that your policy limits will increase automatically to meet the other state’s minimum requirements.

We’d be happy to make sure that this feature applies under your Auto insurance– and to discuss the most cost-effective ways of protect yourself and your family from liability for accidents behind the wheel (such as increasing your Liability coverage or choosing higher deductibles).

For a complimentary review of your policy, just give Tracy-Driscoll Insurance a call at 860-589-3434.

 

Technorati Tags: ,

4Engineers, firefighters, lawyers, teachers, and police officers all have one thing in common: they qualify for Auto insurance discounts with some insurers who have found that people in certain fields tend to be less risky drivers than those in other occupations.

A number of auto insurance companies offer discounts to those in a variety of professions – everything from architects, CPAs, and college professors through librarians, military personnel, and pilots, to physicians, registered nurses, and scientists.

Here’s why: although practicing architecture or flying a plane doesn’t necessarily make a driver more responsible, auto insurance underwriters don’t have to prove cause and effect when setting rates. They need only show a relationship between these rating factors and risk.

A variety of factors can come into play in determining discounts. One Auto insurance company offers up to a 5 % discount to first responders, such as firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians and paramedics. Because these people tend to work in the communities where they live, they probably don’t commute long distances. First responders might speed down the road in emergencies, but not in their own vehicles, and they tend not to work from 9 to 5 – which means that they’re at lower risk for accidents.

Discounts vary by occupation, insurance company, and state. Some companies offer discounts for a long list of occupations and professions, while others provide them to only a few, or none at all. Some jobs receive larger discounts than others.

Rules for discounts also vary by field. To qualify for one company’s discount, health care providers must have a license to practice, as well as a degree. However, car insurance policyholders in Connecticut who have earned at least a bachelor in engineering, math, or science qualify for an 18% discount, even if they work in other fields.

Your occupation or profession might well entitle you to a substantial discount on your Auto insurance – even if you’re retired. If you interested in more information about auto insurance discounts, please get in touch with one of your Tracy-Driscoll Insurance agents today at (860) 589-3434.

 

Technorati Tags: , ,

Although gun control remains a controversial issue, when it comes to insuring firearms, Homeowners insurance coverage offers some clear guidelines.

If you have rifles and pistols in your home, your policy will insure them against fire damage or theft, usually up to $2,500. Although a Homeowners application might not ask specifically about firearms, the higher liability risk that guns present means that failing to inform your agent or insurance company in advance about them could result in denial of a claim for loss or damage to them.

Because of this greater liability exposure, your insurer might require you to show that you’ve taken such sensible precautions as installing trigger locks, securing firearms properly in locked gun cases, and keeping them away from children. If you have a collection of guns that’s particularly valuable (for example, antique sidearms), you might need to buy an insurance policy rider that ensures their replacement or reimbursement — much as with other big-ticket items, such as jewelry and fine art.

If you shoot someone else or yourself accidentally while in the home, your policy might pay for some or all of the damages, (medical bills, property damage, liability claims, and so forth), depending on the amount of coverage. However, to guarantee full protection, you would need additional policy riders, such as “Sporting Firearm insurance,” “Collector’s Firearm insurance,” or “Gun Club Liability insurance.”

To learn more about firearms insurance coverage in your home, please give one of our Tracy-Driscoll Insurance & Financial Services agents a call at 860-589-3434.

 

1You’re probably familiar with the basic discounts that most insurance companies offer on Homeowners coverages, such as bundling Home and Auto insurance, loyalty rewards, and installing smoke detectors and/or home security systems.

However, a growing number of insurance companies offer significant premium discounts on Homeowners insurance to policyholders who are:

  • Senior citizens. If you’re 60 or older, you could lower your premium by as much as 15%.
  • Non-smokers. If you’ve given up the habit — or have never picked up a cigarette, cigar, or pipe — you might qualify for a discount.
  • Married couples or widows/widowers. Could be eligible for discounts of up to 5%.
  • New buyers who have closed a home purchase within 60 days.
  • Willing to increase coverage to reflect a rise in inflation.
  • Ready to buy coverage for the full value of a home.
  • Prepared to buy from a new carrier before the policy with your current insurance company expires.
  • New policy holders with the company (the “welcome” discount) and purchasing coverage for the entire value of your home.

You might also be eligible for a discount if you don’t have a Property damage claim for a specified period, such as three years. Bear in mind that many insurance companies might not offer some (or any) of these discounts. To see if you’re eligible, check in with one of our Tracy Driscoll Insurance Agents. We might be able to save you some big dollars.

Technorati Tags: ,

1A recent nationwide study found that a growing majority of businesses are providing financial incentives to workers who take part in health improvement and wellness programs. According to the Aon Hewitt 2012 Health Care Survey of more than 2,000 employers, nearly three in five (59%) gave employees cash to promote participation in these programs – that’s nearly twice the 37% rate in 2011. Companies are also encouraging participants to stick with these programs. More than half of the respondents (58%) who offered these rewards also gave workers a bonus for completing the program.

Taking an active role in modifying their lifestyle provides employees with obvious humanitarian benefits. In addition, the businesses that provided these programs saved a healthy $700 a year for every participating employee by reducing the incidence of risky behaviors that worsen chronic conditions – such as diabetes, back pain, obesity, coronary artery disease, high cholesterol and asthma – which account for $.80 of every $1.00 spent on health care. According to Aon, these behaviors include:

  • Unhealthy diet
  • Lack of sleep
  • Poor stress management
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol

There’s still room for improvement. To change employee behavior, more companies need to associate rewards with program outcomes, as well as basic enrollment. Even though the vast majority of employers in the survey (more than 80%) offered workers cash payments to complete health questionnaires, only10% used incentives to motivate behavioral change. Providing workers with the results of health questionnaires and biometric screenings will give them a sense of participation and of accountability.

We’d be happy to help you create, and maintain, an employee wellness incentive program that can help your workers live healthier lives – and reduce your Health care costs. Just give us a call at (860) 589-3434 or visit us on the web at Tracy-Driscoll.com.

 


4If you’re building a new home, congratulations! However, if you purchase homeowners insurance on your new residence during construction, you’re exposing yourself to a huge risk if a fire, theft, or other event damages or destroys your partially-completed home.

You can protect yourself by purchasing a standard homeowners insurance policy on the new dwelling. This will cover you for any damage to the home as it’s being built, and might also provide some insurance coverage for theft of building supplies (although the building contractor’s insurance should also cover this). The homeowners insurance policy includes liability insurance, which would come in handy if one of your friends trips during a “tour” of your dream house and decides to sue you. However, homeowners insurance will not cover your personal property until the building is secure or “lockable.” Once construction reaches this point, you can add coverage for your personal property.

As an alternative, consider a dwelling and fire policy, which covers damage to the physical structure, but provides no theft coverage. This might be an appropriate choice if you’re living in your old house during construction, because the homeowners policy on this dwelling would cover theft of items from the construction site. Dwelling and fire insurance also provides liability coverage.

Once your new home is complete, it makes sense to re-evaluate your coverage. If you chose dwelling and fire coverage, you might want to replace it with a homeowners policy. If you have a standard homeowners policy, make sure that you have insured the home to its full value, especially if you have altered the original building plans (for example, by adding a room or upgrading building supplies).

If you have any questions about protecting your new home while it’s being built, just give our Tracy-Driscoll insurance specialists a call at (860) 589-3434. We’re always here for you!

Technorati Tags: , , ,

3

Despite the explosive growth of online identity theft, the great majority of personal information is stolen or lost in other ways, according to one recent study.

A nationwide survey of claims data by Travelers insurance company found that nearly three in four cases of identity fraud (73%) did not involve cyber-crime. According to Travelers, such stolen or misplaced items as wallets and pocketbooks were the most common known causes of these claims. The theft of drivers licenses, Social Security cards, or other forms of personal identification ranked second. Burglaries ranked third, followed by cyber breaches, including Internet scams and old-fashioned forgeries.

To protect yourself against all varieties of identity theft, experts recommend these guidelines:

  • Check your monthly financial statements to detect any suspicious activity (in case you find any discrepancy, contact the financial institution immediately).
  • Carry only essential credit cards
  • Keep critical documents in a secure place
  • Avoid scams by not disclosing personal information if you receive an unsolicited request
  • Shred old bills and financial statements
  • Store purses and wallets in a safe place
  • Never print account information on an outgoing mail envelope
  • Be careful about sharing personal information on social media
  • Ask for a free report annually from the national credit reporting agencies.

You might also consider purchasing Identity theft insurance. Many policies provide coverage for lost or stolen funds; long distance calls to resolve, report, or discuss the fraud; the cost of notarizing fraud affidavits, certified mail, or other documents needed to restore compromised credit; loan re-application fees due to incorrect credit information; and attorney fees (if pre-approved).

For more information, please get in touch with one of our Tracy-Driscoll Insurance agents at (860) 589-3434.

Technorati Tags: , ,

4As traffic increasingly approaches gridlock in urban areas, and higher housing costs cause workers to push their homes ever further from work, it’s no surprise that commuting times have lengthened considerably. Longer trips to work mean that more and more car-bound commuters are looking for ways to pass that seat time either productively or pleasantly. Hands-free cell phones, enhanced stereo systems, laptop computers, PDAs, and (hopefully only in the back seat) DVD players and video games are standard equipment in many vehicles.

Have you considered how your Personal Insurance coverage will cover losses to these often-expensive additions?

To determine how much coverage, if any, your Auto insurance or Homeowners insurance policy will provide for these tech “toys,” you’ll need to determine:

  • The value of the device.
  • Whether it’s “built-in” to the vehicle, or powered through an adapter.
  • The value of any media (such as CDs, DVDs, or game cartridges) used with the device.
  • Whether the device is for personal or business use, or both.

Be sure you have the coverage you want before a loss reveals a possible gap in your protection. Contact one of our Personal Insurance coverage professionals today at Tracy-Driscoll Insurance & Financial Services at 860-589-3434.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.