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Rutt Insurance Agency Blog Page 6

View the latest blog posts from Rutt Insurance Agency.

A recent study concluded that 69 percent of home owners are under-insured. Unfortunately, many home owners think they are fully protected and are stunned to find out at the time of loss that their coverage is inadequate.

Getting the right homeowners insurance coverage for your home and belongings depends on many things, from crime rates, tornado risk and wildfire hazards in your area to the specific personal property coverage and deductibles that make the most sense for your household.

Here are a few key strategies you may want to consider to make sure you have adequate home insurance:

  • Increase your liability insurance with an umbrella liability policy, which will provide liability coverage up to $1 million or more.
  • Get replacement cost home insurance to cover what it would cost to replace your home and personal property, instead of “actual cash value” coverage, which will only cover the current depreciated value.
  • Be sure to read over the policy's exclusions carefully and ask your agent if any of these items are a risk, and if you can purchase additional insurance to cover them.
  • Add coverage for specific items of value, such as jewelry, art and collectibles, through “endorsements” or “riders” on the policy.

While you may be able to buy online homeowners insurance, consider working directly through an agent who can provide in-depth explanations of each aspect of your policy. When you buy home insurance, you are protecting your financial future. Take time to seek good advice from a knowledgeable independent agent.

Posted 4:55 PM


Driving can open up new opportunities for teens but with those opportunities comes responsibility. It’s important for teens to understand those responsibilities and for parents to set appropriate expectations. Here are five subjects you’ll want to cover with your teenager when it comes to driving.


1) Distracted Driving

According to the FCC, distracted driving accounted for 16% of all fatal crashes in 2008 and 21% of accidents involving injuries. Distractions can include texting, talking on the phone and even scrolling through a playlist on your phone. When you’re in a car, remember that no text or phone call is worth injuring or killing yourself, your passengers and others on the road. If you need to call or text someone for directions or to let them know you’re on your way, pull into a parking lot or a safe area along the road with plenty of room between your vehicle and moving traffic

2) Driving under the influence

Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death among teens, with one third of those deaths being alcohol related, according to the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Avoiding situations with alcohol and drug use is the best way to avoid driving under the influence or riding with someone who is under the influence. If necessary make arrangements to have a designated driver or call someone else for a ride. There are no consequences that are worse than injuring or killing yourself or others.

3) Passenger Safety

As a driver, you have a responsibility for the passengers in your vehicle. Make sure you and your passengers all have their seatbelts on before leaving and during all trips- whether down the street or outside town. A driver should make sure that passengers don’t lean out of windows, throw things from a moving vehicle or engage in other horseplay.

4) Obeying traffic laws

While this seems obvious, making an effort to follow all the laws as a new driver will help establish good driving habits and avoid bad ones like excessive speeding and rolling through stop signs.

5) Protecting the vehicle and its contents

Whether going to the mall or driving to school, remember to lock the car doors. Thieves look for easy targets, and if they see a GPS unit, a phone, tablets, etc. in an unlocked car you’ve made their job easy. Remember to do a quick scan for anything that might be tempting to a thief and either take it with you or stow it in the glove box, or under a seat.

Posted 5:51 PM


Thinking of getting a “Lyft” from a ridesharing service? Make sure you’re covered if you get hurt as a passenger.

 

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, however, are generally not aware of the insurance implications, and that their driver’s insurance may not properly cover them. If you’re thinking of becoming a driver for a Transportation Network Company (TNC), also read our companion flyer.

Q: What is ridesharing?

A: 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.

Q: Why is ridesharing an issue?

A: 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.

Q: How is the ridesharing company insured?

A: 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.

 

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

A: 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. We can tell you more about this if you’d like.

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

A: 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 where 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.

Q: Is this insurance issue settled?

A: No. A number of state legislatures have passed laws to address proper insurance coverage (amongst other things), but the issue is not fully settled. Some personal auto insurers are revisiting the issue and considering new ways to close those gaps in insurance.

    -Content used by permission of Trusted Choice www.trustedchoice.com/

Posted 1:00 PM


Here are a few tips to help you protect your home while you're away. 

Step 1: Find Someone To Check In

The first and most important thing is to have someone you know and trust check your home regularly. Start looking for this person as soon as your travel is scheduled. This isn’t something to scramble for at the last minute.

Make sure the home is checked at least once every few days. If the person can stay in your house, even better!

Have your mail/newspapers collected (a neighbor can do this too if your check in person can’t make it every day)

Arrange checks for leaks or other maintenance issues.


Bring a gift for the caretaker! Checking in on a property is a lot of work; they will appreciate the thanks.

Step 2: Travel-Proof Your Home

Go down this list before you leave.

  • Connect a few lights to a timer and set them to go on every day after dark. This will keep your house from being totally dark – a sure giveaway that no one is home.
  • Don’t close all your blinds and shutters, unless this is something you normally do. 
  • Don't post your out of town status on social media.
  • As you’re walking out of the house, follow these steps to cover your last-minute safety needs.
  • Don't turn the heat down below 55 degrees. Never turn the heat completely off during the winter; if the temperature drops, you risk frozen pipes.
  • Lock the house. That includes pet doors, garage doors, and windows that might normally be left open.
  • Throw away any perishables if you’re going to be gone more than 3 days or so. You don’t want to come home to a rotting mess in the fridge!

--Content used in this post was originally published by Mamoth Restoration & Construction and is used with their permission.

 

Posted 12:59 PM


Sump pumps provide peace of mind to residential and commercial property owners. Most of the time sump pumps do the job they’re intended to do, which is to prevent a basement from flooding by removing water that collects in the sump basin and extracting it through a hose to an exterior location. But when a sump pump fails, the results can be disastrous. A flood in your home or business due to a sump pump failure can be devastating. It can cause extensive permanent damage to your property and disruption to your home life and business operations if not cleaned and remediated right away. If the water damage is not completely treated and dried, you could also find yourself with a secondary problem from mold and mildew.

What is a Sump Pump?

A sump pump is a submersible pump that sits at the bottom of a sump pit, which is typically installed at the lowest point in your basement or crawl space. Ground water surrounding your home’s foundation is channeled into a perimeter drain system installed at the base of the foundation. Water finds its way into the perforated drainpipes and is quickly diverted to the sump pit. The sump pump, which is triggered by a float switch, removes the water by pumping it to the nearest storm drain, dry well or detention pond. A sump pump turns on only when water inside the sump pit reaches a pre-determined level. Most new homes are equipped with sump pumps but older homes can be retrofitted with a sump system to prevent basement flooding.

Types of Sump Pumps

There are 3 types of sump pumps. The pedestal pump, submersible pump, and ejector pump.

If your pump sits on a pedestal and stands about 30 inches tall with a hose or pipe connected to the motor and extends down into a “sump pit,” you have a pedestal pump. This is a very common style of pump. The motor on a pedestal pump is not intended to be in the water. As the water level rises, it activates a “float switch” which activates the pump. Then, the water is pumped out through a pipe or hose out and away from the building.

If your pump actually sits on the bottom of the sump pit, you have a submersible pump. This pump is much smaller than the pedestal variety, usually standing about 12 inches high. Usually, there is a 4 inch rod extending up from the pump with a float device attached. When the water reaches the float it activates the pump. The water is sucked down through the bottom of the pump. A screen at the bottom of the pump stops gravel from being sucked in.

Most commonly found in crawlspaces, ejector pumps consist of pea gravel, this type of pump is able to handle small debris being sucked into the pump without damaging the impeller or other mechanisms within the pump.

Picking a Sump Pump

Manual vs. Automatic: In nearly all circumstances, an automatic sump pump is superior. The additional cost is minimal and the peace of mind is invaluable. Manual sump pumps are typically only used for catastrophic events such as river flooding. Of course, just because a sump pump is “automatic” doesn’t mean it will always work. The water sensing mechanism can easily malfunction due to clogging and render the unit useless.

Single vs. Primary W/ Backup: Recently, many homeowners have started installing sump pumps with a secondary backup unit. These two stage units were designed to address the fairly common occurrence of a mechanical failure. Unlike other household appliances, if a sump pump fails, it will usually lead to an extremely expensive flooding event.

Electric Only vs. Battery Backup: What happens when the same storm that threatens to flood your basement also knocked out power to your home? Unless a battery backup is in place, the sump pump will fail. This is a fairly rare event of course, and many home owners elect to forego the extra protection. Base your decision on the likelihood of power outages.

Sewer vs. Storm Drain: In the past, sump pumps were just piped into the existing sewer line running out from the house. This worked well until the local water treatment plants ran out of capacity. In response, many municipalities created laws banning sump pumps from directing water into sewer lines. Why does this matter? Often, it is much more difficult to tie into a storm drain than a sewer line.

Why do Sump Pumps fail?

Sump pumps can fail for any number of reasons, including a power outage, lack of maintenance, mechanical failure, or improper installation. In some cases, a property owner may install a pump that is too small to adequately pump out the volume of water that enters the basin. While proper maintenance is key to keeping your sump pump in good working order, an extreme weather event can cause the pump to work overtime and either burn the unit out or overwhelm it with excess water.

Sump Pump Maintenance

Test your sump pump regularly to make sure it will operate when the next big downpour occurs. Test it by pouring a bucket of water into the sump pit. The pump should turn on, remove the water from the pit and shut itself off in a matter of seconds. Ensure that the float and the check valve move freely.

To clean your sump pit, remove any dirt, sand, gravel and other debris to increase the pump’s efficiency and prolong its life. Ensure that the discharge line opening is free of obstructions so that water can be pumped through the line and out of your basement or crawlspace.

Sump Pump Replacement and Repair

Like any equipment with moving parts, sump pumps will wear out over time and will need to be replaced. There is no general rule on how often a sump pump should be replaced since it depends on how often the pump operates.

When is a mold remediation professional necessary for a sump pump issue?

When a sump pump fails, mold growth often occurs as well. If this is the case, a certified mold professional is recommended. The necessity of a mold expert depends largely on the location of the sump pump. If it is located in a finished basement, and carpeting, drywall and contents are saturated, a mold professional is critical. If the sump pump is located in the crawlspace and the excess water simply pooled on the soil, an expert may not be called for.

Do you have a sump pump in your home? Consider adding Water Back-up, Sump Pump Overflow to your homeowners coverage.

Posted 3:00 AM


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