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Rutt Insurance Agency Blog Page 4

View the latest blog posts from Rutt Insurance Agency.

In the new sharing economy, ridesharing allows vehicle owners to transport passengers in their own cars for a fee or a donation. Drivers sign up with a service that charges a fee to connect passengers with drivers via a website or smartphone app. Passengers arrange rides and pay with a credit card using the app.

Ridesharing is becoming more common around the state and the nation, particularly in large cities. Capitalizing on the new sharing economy and to a certain extent the coolness factor, this simple concept is thriving. Passengers and drivers for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) alike are generally little informed of the fact that under a personal auto policy, they may not be covered under a number of circumstances.

What Drivers Need to Know

Why is ridesharing an issue for drivers?

Most standard personal auto policies exclude coverage for “public or livery conveyance;” in other words, the use of the vehicle to transport passengers for a fee. Some policies have even stronger exclusions that exclude any coverage when the driver is available for hire.

Other restrictions could apply, so even if you don’t see a specific exclusion, you should not assume that there is coverage under the personal auto policy. Regulators in many states have been issuing consumer alerts to warn the public about possible implications when signing up as a driver – or as a passenger – with the ridesharing apps.

What if my Transportation Network Company tells me I’m covered when I drive for them?

An increasing number of TNCs are indicating that they are going to cover the driver’s commercial exposure for liability and collision coverage. Some may also offer Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage, something that can protect you when you are involved in an accident with an at-fault driver who had insufficient coverage or no coverage at all (which happens all too frequently). You should ask your TNC:

  • What they would provide, and
  • Whether their coverage would be primary.

How do I know if I’m covered as a driver?

If you are considering becoming a driver for a TNC, you should:

  • Find out what the TNC will cover for your commercial exposure, including when coverage starts and when it ends, and
  • Talk to your agent about what your personal auto policy may cover if you are involved in an accident.

Although insurance issues are often downplayed by TNCs, the coordination between the commercial and the personal auto policies can pose challenges. The timing and circumstances of the accident will have a bearing on whether coverage is afforded or not. At this time, coverage gaps still exist in a number of circumstances.

Can you give an example?

Examples are a great way to get a better understanding between you and the TNC and/or the insurer and to identify potential gaps.  At the minimum, you should find out how the TNC will cover you when:

  • You are available for hire (logged into the app) but not transporting a passenger.
  • You are logged in and transporting a passenger.
  • You are logged out and not transporting a passenger.
  • You are logged out after dropping off your last passenger, and heading home.

Is this issue settled?

No. Between challenges from Public Utility Commissions, restrictions on licenses to operate, and the Legislature contemplating new laws to address proper insurance coverage, among other things, the issue is not settled. 

What Passengers Need to Know

Why is ridesharing an issue for passengers?

Ridesharing is not the same as riding in a taxi or limousine. Taxis are licensed by the state or a local authority and subject to strict standards, from vehicle inspection and driver licensing to insurance that protects passengers and others who could be hurt in an accident.

Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) such as Uber or Lyft are not subject to the same requirements. However, they have drawn increasing attention from state regulators and legislators concerned that the public may not be properly protected. In fact, various state regulators have issued consumer alerts to warn the public about possible risks of using a ridesharing app when riding as a passenger.

How is the ridesharing company insured?

Insurance is the crux of the issue. Drivers are using their personal vehicles. Personal auto insurance generally excludes coverage when transporting passengers for a fee.

An increasing number of TNCs are indicating that they are going to provide some protection by covering the driver’s commercial exposure for liability and collision coverage. The nature and scope of coverage provided by the TNC varies from company to company, and its coordination with the driver’s personal auto policy can leave uninsured gaps, in some cases significant.

How do I know if I’m covered as a passenger?

If  you are considering using a ridesharing service, you should:

  • Research the companies that operate in your city
  • Find out how these companies protect their drivers and passengers, including their liability limits

If you have a personal auto policy yourself, you may be able to claim some coverage under your policy if you are hurt in an accident as a passenger. If you do not own a car, you will not have that option, unless you purchased a “named non-owner” policy. Your agent can advise you about coverages.

Why should I worry? How likely is it that a bad claim will occur?

There is no way of knowing what kind of accident will occur. Hopefully, none. However, many of the insurance issues that have come to light have stemmed from catastrophic claims: one in California in which a six-year-old girl was killed in a collision with a rideshare car.

While often downplayed by those who have an interest in the ridesharing business, coordination between the commercial and personal auto policies can pose challenges. The timing and circumstances of any accident will have a bearing on whether coverage extends to the driver and the passenger. At this time, coverage gaps still exist in a number of circumstances.

Is this insurance issue settled?

No. Between challenges from Public Utility Commissions, restrictions on licenses to operate, and the Legislature contemplating new laws to address proper insurance coverage, among other things, the issue is not settled. 

- Content used in this post is used with permission and was originally published by Insurance Agents and Brokers.

Posted 3:00 AM


Easter is coming up very quickly.

Are you planning an Easter egg hunt for your family, church, school, or neighborhood?

Whether your Easter egg hunt is inside or outside, keep the fun going and the kids safe with these safety tips.

Inspect the area for potential hazards.

Pick up any objects that may present a tripping hazard.

For inside egg hunts, be aware of electrical outlets, sharp corners, open windows and stairs.

For outside egg hunts, look for holes and uneven ground that could lead to injury.

    Set boundaries to keep the kids in sight at all times and away from unsafe areas.  This includes places that are too high or near streets and driveways.

    Plan to have adult supervision at all times.

    Hide the eggs in safe areas.

For inside hunts, keep eggs away from electrical outlets, plugs, and light sockets.

For outside hunts, keep eggs away from thick or thorned bushes, areas where pesticides have been sprayed and potential areas for bees and snakes.

    Be cautious of food allergies and choking hazards if filling plastic eggs with candy or toys.

    Be cautious of using real eggs. Make sure to take steps to cook them properly, store them properly, and keep them clean.

---Content used in this post is used with permission and was originally published by Goodville Mutual Casualty Company.

Posted 11:18 AM


Nobody wants to be involved in an accident, but everyone should have a plan and be prepared.

After an accident, it is important to gather information as quickly as possible.

Stop immediately and as close to the accident site as is safely possible.
Do not move your vehicle unless directed by a police officer or if it is in a position to cause another accident. Check everybody involved for injuries. If the accident was more serious than a fender-bender, call 911 immediately. To protect victims from further injury, don’t move them. Cover them with a blanket or jacket and wait for the paramedics to arrive.

Only discuss the accident with the investigating officer. Do not blame anyone, including yourself. The police will tell you what to do next—such as whether you should move the vehicles out of traffic. While you are waiting for the police, exchange insurance information with the other driver if possible.

Information you will need to obtain:

  • Name of driver
  • Their driver's license number
  • Name of their insurance company
  • Phone number of company or agent
  • Effective dates of their insurance policy
  • The driver’s phone number

Other important information to collect at the scene includes:

  • Names of all drivers and passengers involved in the accident
  • Make, model, color, and license plate number of each vehicle involved
  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of witnesses
  • Photos or drawings of the accident scene and damage to each vehicle
  • Names and badge numbers of police officers and responding medical teams
  • Information on how you can receive a copy of the police report
  • If you hit an unattended vehicle, try to find the owner. If you are unable to locate the owner, leave a note with your name and phone number on the car’s windshield.

After the investigating officer has completed a report and you’ve received any necessary medical care, phone your insurance agent, or company claim hotline as soon as possible, even if you weren’t at fault or are far away from home. The sooner your agent receives the information, the sooner your claim will be processed and reviewed.

Throughout the claims process, you must tell the truth about all aspects of the situation, even if the circumstances surrounding the accident are embarrassing or detrimental to you. Insurance fraud is a crime with very serious consequences. 

--Content used in this post is used with permission and was originally published by Penn National Insurance.

Posted 3:00 AM


Arm your home against ice damming.
Although it doesn't really feel like winter right now, we all know the snow and bitter cold will be here at some point this winter. A common cause of damage to homes is Ice Damming.
According to the claims journal, winter-related claims add up to over $1billion each year across the insurance industry. One common, yet often overlooked cause of costly damage is ice damming. the best time to mae upgrades and changes to help prevent ice damming damage is before the ice appears.
 
What is an Ice Dam? 

An ice dam is a ridge of solid ice that forms at the edge of the roof caused by melting snow that runs down a warm roof surface and freezes when it reaches the cold roof eave edge.

Continually melting roof snow causes water to pool behind the dam. The water works its way under the roof shingles and into the house—running down walls, along ceilings and across floors. A roof full of snow could result in hundreds of gallons of water coming into the house. 

Preventing Ice Dams

If the underside of a roof, typically the attic space, remains nearly as cold as outside, little to no unwanted roof snow melting will occur. To keep a "cold roof," consider the following:

• Add insulation. More insulation on the attic floor keeps the heat where it belongs and out of the attic.

• Install ridge and soffit vents. A ridge vent paired with continuous soffit vents circulates cold air under the entire roof.

• Cap your attic hatch. An unsealed attic hatch or whole-house fan is a large opening for heat to escape. Enclose these with foil-faced foam board insulation and aluminum tape.

• Install sealed recessed lights. Older recessed lights give off excessive heat and cannot be insulated without creating a fire hazard. Replace them with sealed insulation contact (IC) rated fixtures, which can be covered with insulation.

• Seal and insulate ductwork. Seal joints of HVAC ducts and exhaust ducts and wrap with foil faced insulation to prevent heat from escaping.

• Consider an energy assessment. An assessment can pinpoint exactly where you are losing heat in the home. It can save you money and possibly prevent ice damming damages.

Enhance Your Protection During the Building Process

The best protection against ice dam damage is to combine cold roof techniques with the installation of an ice shield under the roof itself. This is a waterproof barrier that is installed under the shingles to protect the inside of the house if ice damming occurs. Water cannot penetrate the waterproof roof membrane, which even provides a seal around nail hole openings.

If Ice Damming Occurs

If an ice dam develops and you do not have a waterproof underlayment, contact a licensed and insured roofer. Ice dams are as hard as concrete, and trying to access the elevated roof edges is difficult. Attempting to remove an ice dam yourself can be dangerous.

If water is coming into your home as a result of an ice dam, contact a licensed and insured roofer to remove the snow from the roof, minimizing additional water coming into the house. Address interior damages with buckets and towels wherever possible.

Source: AIG and Westfield Specialty Brokerage.

 

Posted 10:46 AM


7 ways to put a freeze on winter fires

Home fires occur more in the winter than any other season. Half of all home heating fires occur in the months of December, January and February. Here are seven tips that can help prevent a devastating fire at your home this winter:

  1. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet from any heat source like fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators or space heaters.
  2. Keep portable generators outside, away from windows and as far away as possible from your home.

  3. Install and test carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month.

  4. Have a qualified professional clean and inspect your chimney and vents every year.

  5. Store cooled ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep it outside at least 10 feet from your home and any nearby buildings.

  6. Plug only one heat-producing appliance (such as a space heater) into an electrical outlet at a time.

  7. And most importantly, don’t forget to install and maintain working smoke detectors.

Be fire smart as you stay cozy and warm this winter.

Source: National Fire Prevention Association.www.nfpa.org/winter

Posted 11:19 AM


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