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Drivers who have been getting away with texting behind the wheel because of weak enforcement will soon find that this is no longer the case, thanks to Uncle Sam – and getting caught might well kick up their Auto insurance premiums.

Although 39 states prohibit texting while driving, these laws have been tough to enforce; many people have been able to scoff at the law unless they’re involved in an accident while texting.

To help state authorities catch texting drivers in the act, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued $550,000 in grants.

The impact of texting behind the wheel on Auto insurance premiums varies by state. If a state penalizes these infractions as moving violations, a citation will add points to the driver’s record – which means that insurance companies could raise rates For example, according to an analysis of quotes from two leading Auto insurers, motorists in New York State who receive tickets for texting while driving will pay an annual premium penalty of $59 to $74 when they renew their policies. However, in states that don’t add driving points for this type of misbehavior insurers will not be able to hike auto insurance  premiums.

Let’s hope that the new federal grants, together with the pocketbook pain of higher Auto insurance premiums, will help curb texting by thoughtless drivers – and make the nation’s streets and highways safer!

 

 

4Are you running a business out of your home?

According to surveys, nearly one in four Americans operates some form of home-based business. These range from relatively small, often part-time pursuits (such as tax preparation and small appliance repair) to larger, full-time enterprises, such as construction companies and real estate offices. You might be one of the thousands seeking success in multi-level marketing, or possibly automation consulting. Maybe you’ve turned your hobby of furniture refinishing and restoration into a lucrative flea market booth.

No matter what your business or the time spent on it, if you operate out of a home office, or have your headquarters in your home, consider special business insurance coverage. Your Homeowners insurance, although it’s one of the most comprehensive policies ever developed, was never designed to include broad coverage for business activities.

For example, the homeowners insurance policy might include some coverage for a certain amount of your business property (computer, filing cabinet, desk, chair, etc.); but this is usually limited to a small amount. Homeowners insurance offers even less coverage if you take the property away from your house (for example, a laptop computer). Finally, if your home business includes selling, the chances are overwhelming that any sales inventory on the premises won’t be covered. Because these limitations can vary by company and policy, check with us for specific details, as well as your options, if any, for expanding Property coverage and/or increasing the provided amounts.

Standard Homeowners insurance policies, with few exceptions, exclude all liability claims arising from your business. This exposure represents far too large a risk of loss to leave to chance. What would be the point of all your hard work in developing your business, if you lost it all in an expensive lawsuit or injury settlement? Add the need for certain specialty coverages not included in your policy, such as Professional Liability, Advertising, or Publication Liability, Customer Property left in your care (for repair or refinishing), and Workers Compensation for injury to your employees.

For more information on finding insurance for your home business, please feel free to get in touch with us at 860-589-3434.

 

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1 A great way of avoiding those pesky little Homeowners claims is to loss-proof your house. Here are a few helpful tips from a recent insurance trade report:

  • Fix minor roof leaks quickly and keep rain gutters clean.
  • Trim dead branches. Also, remove dying trees from your property before they fall and cause unsightly, expensive damage.
  • If you’re in a high-wind area, install windstorm shutters.
  • Improve overall drainage around the house. If your basement tends to flood, install an automatic sump pump with a battery backup, in case of a power outage during a major storm.
  • Check your roof and heating, electrical, and plumbing systems every few years. It’s best to let a professional do this.
  • If you have a fireplace, keep your chimney clean and unobstructed!

For the best Homeowners insurance policy to meet your needs, contact us 860-589-3434 or visit our website at www.Tracy-Driscoll.com.

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Hurricane Sandy is about to hit the state of Connecticut, and we thought sharing some of these printable checklists would be useful:

As always if you have an questions with regard to your insurance coverage feel free to call us at 860-589-3434 or visit www.Tracy-Driscoll.com for more info. Be Safe!

 

 

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4You hope nothing will go wrong with your car, especially late at night or far from home. Yet we all know that breakdowns can happen unexpectedly. We recommend taking a risk management approach to car safety — assume the worst will happen and prepare for it in advance.

Start by getting a good emergency kit. Whether you purchase one or build it yourself, your kit should contain at least a working flashlight, flares, reflective triangles, distress sign, first aid supplies, and basic tools.

Before leaving the house, make sure your cell phone is fully charged. Take along some spare change or a telephone calling card in case you break down in a “dead” area for your cellular provider.

If your vehicle breaks down, pull off the road as far as possible on the right shoulder (or in the center median, if getting to the shoulder is impossible). Activate your hazard lights and place flares or reflective triangles far enough behind your vehicle to warn oncoming traffic of your presence. Many authorities advise against you attempting to change your tires or jump your battery while traffic is present. Open your hood, then stay in your vehicle and wait for help.

If a stranger approaches, it’s safest to talk through a closed window. Don’t ask them to assist in repairing your vehicle. If they wish to help, ask them to call your auto club or the police.

For more recommendations on helping minimize the risks of everyday events, give our Personal Tracy-Driscoll insurance experts a call at 860-589-3434. As always, we’re happy to help.

 

3Your daughter is playing in the yard with friends. Suddenly she runs in, crying that her best friend fell and appears to be hurt. You rush out to find the young girl lying on the ground, screaming, and holding her arm that seems to be broken. Just then her mother runs up — and, as she scoops up her daughter, snaps at you angrily, “I hope you have good insurance!” She then rushes her daughter to the emergency room. Although the mother was clearly speaking in anxiety and anger arising from seeing her child hurt, she has raised a good point.

Fortunately, your Homeowners insurance comes into play in a situation like this, Every Homeowners policy includes Medical Payments (or “med pay”), which covers medical expenses from an injury to a person on your premises with your permission, regardless of who was at fault.

By stepping up immediately to help with medical expenses, admitting no more than that the child was in your yard at the time of the injury, you might well avoid a lawsuit for damages. Rather than infuriating an already angry parent, med pay allows you to show your concern and offer financial support in a stressful situation.

Note that med pay coverage does not apply to everyone injured on your property. For example, it won’t pick up the medical expenses of someone insured under the policy (such as a family member) or for an injury arising from a business conducted on your premises (such as a day care center).

Your Homeowners policy helps protect you against a wide variety of losses. Give us a call at 860-589-3434, and our Tracy-Driscoll insurance professionals will be happy to fill you in!

 

 

1 Do you have the right amount of insurance on your home? To begin with, your Homeowners policy should have coverage for at least 80% of “replacement cost” — the amount needed to repair or replace damage to the building and furnishings with items of like kind and quality. Some insurance companies require coverage of 90% or more under a “guaranteed replacement cost option,” which will pay for replacing your home without depreciation and often without a maximum reconstruction payment.

Unfortunately, all too many homes are underinsured. Dwellings insured for long periods with the same company might have nowhere enough coverage, due to increased building costs, remodeling, or improvements. If your home is underinsured, not only will you lack full protection for total losses, but you might also lack full protection for smaller losses (under the “coinsurance clause”).

On the other hand, many homes are over-insured. Home mortgage companies often require homeowners to buy insurance at least equal to the balance of the mortgage — which is often far higher than the replacement cost of the dwelling. If that’s the case, meeting this requirement would mean buying more coverage than needed.

Don’t make the mistake of insuring your home for its market value — which, in most cases, does not mean replacement cost. For example, market value also reflects both the cost of the building’s foundation and the underlying value of the land, which usually remain unchanged if your house needs to be rebuilt.

Our Tracy-Driscoll insurance professionals would be happy to offer advice on determining the proper replacement cost value and coverage amount on your home. Just call us at (860) 589-3434 or e-mail us.

 

Any Connecticut business owner knows that sound risk management provides a foundation on which to base all other operation strategies — and a great way to reduce accidents and injuries and lower its Comp premiums.

Because this is such an important topic, here are the seven essential benefits of a risk management program, as detailed by The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research:

  1. Reduced cost of accidents
  2. Providing adequate protection
  3. Economy of operations
  4. Integration of safety plans
  5. Reduced risk of criminal liability
  6. Ability to plan and budget more effectively
  7. A clearer focus on the big picture

If you hire someone to oversee risk management within your company, the Alliance recommends that they: Develop and communicate risk-management policies; prepare recommendations and reports; conduct risk-identification surveys; analyze and measure exposures; review leases and contracts; coordinate compliance with regulations; implement risk-control programs; investigate accidents; manage claims and litigation; arrange risk financing (including insurance); establish retention programs; determine and allocate cost of risk; and monitor results.

This is only one perspective on risk management. If you would like to review your company’s risk management program, as well as your Workers Comp coverage, give us a call today at (860-589-3434.

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A consumer survey by a national insurance organization warmed our hearts — and warned us to keep our focus where it belongs: Meeting your insurance and protection needs.

In the study, 95% of respondents said they wanted insurance agents to offer expert counsel. Some 92% also said it was important that their agent handle all of their insurance needs. Three out of four believed that it was important for their agent to contact them regularly for a coverage review. More than nine in ten (92%) want all of this FROM an agent in their community, with a local office to visit for sales and service.

Wow! That’s quite a list. Our response? We have good news and great news. The good news is that we hear you, and we’re pleased to see how many consumers realize the importance of their insurance protection — and the agent who provides it — to their peace of mind and security.

What’s the great news? We totally agree with all of your preferences and we’re dedicated to delivering what you want, the way you want it. Why not let us prove it? If you’re a client, tell us how we’re doing. If there’s a shortfall in our goal to provide excellent service, let one of us know immediately and we’ll close that gap promptly.

If you’re not a client of Tracy-Driscoll Insurance, ask your friends about us. Better yet, give us a call at (860) 589-3434 or come by to visit. We’ll be glad to help.

 

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You’ve spent hours, days or even weeks, making your jewelry choices — not to mention paying thousands of dollars on your final purchase — so why fall short when it comes to finding the right coverage for your jewels? Getting the appropriate protection is easy; you just need to understand what your Homeowners insurance will cover.

The standard HO-3 policy provides only $1,000 worth of coverage for a single item of jewelry and $1,500 for your entire collection. For example, if you lost your $6,500 engagement ring, a pair of $500 earrings ,and a $1,000 class ring, you would receive a reimbursement of only $1,000, not the actual value of $8,000. So be sure you’re protected by extra insurance. The cost is minimal compared to the risk of losing expensive jewelry and being unable to replace it.

You might consider a stand-alone policy that offers broader coverage than the typical Homeowners policy. For instance, it covers “mysterious disappearance” (when you lose jewelry and have no clue where it went); and “pairs and sets” (which buys you a new set of earrings even if you lost only one).

If you have highly valuable items of jewelry, you might also take out a “rider”(separate coverage) on them. Keep in mind that, to obtain additional coverage, your insurance company will require you to have a professional appraisal to set an objective value for your property, which might be significantly higher or lower than what you think it’s worth!

For more information on insuring your valued jewelry, please feel free to get in touch with your Tracy-Driscoll Insurance Agent at (860) 589-3434.

 

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