How To: What Do I Do If I Have A Car Accident?
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I am in the business of selling automobile insurance.

So what am I really selling? Well, I sell a  product. And when does a customer get to use this product? When they have a loss. Really, that is what I am selling. I'm selling a product that will bring you back to whole if you are involved in an event that causes you to incur a loss, either monetary or physical.

When most people think of insurance, automatically a car accident scenario will come to mind. These are the most publicized of claim events and often the most contested as well. We've all watched television documentaries that have told us of the unreliable nature of witness accounts. So most of the time, after an accident, you end up in a "he said, she said.." situation. Your best bet is to completely document the encounter for future reference.

That being said, these are some of the things we recommend to our customers should they have an accident. I am sure this is not a complete list as every event is a little bit different. But in general, these are some important items to attempt to do if you should be unlucky enough to be involved in a roadway mishap:

MAKE SURE you move to a safe area. Do not remain in a busy roadway, if you can help it.

ASK SOMEONE to call the police and seek medical assistance by calling 911.

REMAIN Calm and be courteous to whomever else is involved or with the authorities.

OBTAIN as much information from all those involved as possible, including witnesses. Get addresses and phone numbers as well.

TAKE PICTURES if possible, but do not put yourself in danger by trying to do so. Especially if you are on a busy roadway.

Some things to avoid are:

NEVER leave the scene of an accident, NEVER make a deal for damages, NEVER accept an offer for a private settlement, NEVER disavow injury to anyone, NEVER offer to pay anything, and NEVER administer first aid unless you are trained to do so.

Every accident is different, but it will only help you in your claims process the more information you have to give to your insurance company.

Here is a handy Accident Report Form we give to our customers. It's in 2 pages here but it's actually a small brochure that fits into your ID card holder.

Accident Report Guide Page 1
Accident Report Guide Page 2

Print it out and feel free to use it or give us a call for an auto insurance quote and we'll send you one.

Drive safely!

Avalon Agency  Insurance




Eight Tips For The Road Ahead
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Be Safe, Be Smart On A Long-Distance Road Trip

Whether you’re traveling alone, with a buddy or with your spouse and a car full of kids, there are few things more “American” than the long-distance road trip. Countless vacation travelers will drive the highways looking for fun and making memories with every mile. If traveling down the “holiday road” is in your plans, take the time to prepare for your trip. You’ll have a more enjoyable vacation if you plan carefully. Here are a few driving tips, courtesy of Avalon Agency:

 

1) Maintain your car. Make sure your vehicle is up to date on its maintenance schedule, and be sure to check the battery and tires.

 2) Plan your trip and know where you’re going. Call ahead for proper and safe directions to get you to your destination safely and have maps of the area on hand to help you navigate once you are off the main road. You’re more likely to make good decisions, even in dangerous situations, if you’re clearheaded and know where you’re going.

 3) Be alert. Seems obvious, but driver inattention is surely the cause of a lot of accidents. If you stay focused behind the wheel and plan carefully, you will have a wonderful summer road trip.

 4) Take precaution with a cell phone. Cell phones can be a lifesaver when you need immediate access to emergency services after an accident. Keep your phone within easy reach and get to know its features. However, use it prudently. Reports suggest that driving while talking on the phone increases accident rates.

 5) Wear your seat belt. Whether or not it’s required by law in the state through which you’re driving, always wear your seat belt as a safety precaution.

 6) Protect your car against theft. Help deter criminals from taking your car with steering wheel locks, switches that disable fuel or ignition systems, and electronic tracking devices.

 7) If you’re in an accident. Taking immediate steps if you’ve been in an accident can protect your family and your car from further damage. Stop immediately and make sure your car is not blocking traffic. Turn off your car to keep it from overheating or catching fire. Warn oncoming cars using road flares or orange triangle reflectors. After you have protected yourself and your family, call your insurance company immediately.

 8) Make sure your auto insurance is up to date. Before you even leave the driveway, you want to be sure you’re protected when you’re on the road and far from home. An independent insurance agent or broker can provide the personal service and advice you need to travel in confidence.

Have a great trip!



What Happens if you don't Drop the Chalupa
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Fast foods, like anything else, won't kill you if taken in moderation. Fast food signs are another story entirely.

Is this where I place my order?

And yes, the restaurant would be liable for this loss, unless the driver had driven into the sign himself, knocking it over onto his own truck.

Something to think about next time you pull into the drive thru on a windy day.

Avalon Agency
Car, home, business and all kinds of insurance
Even coverage for your company signage

Am I Required To Carry New York Uninsured Motorist Insurance?
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When we write an auto insurance policy we always try to match the Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist insurance coverage to the Liability limit on the policy. That's the highest limit you can have, and we always recommend it.

Most people consider what limits they want based on the possibility of having to pay another party in the event of an accident or injury. Uninsured/Underinsured  Motorist insurance  and SUM (Supplementary Uninsured Motorist Coverage) coverage pays what YOU should be able to collect from another motorist who is responsible for your injuries you suffer in an accident. You can select the limit that makes you feel financially secure, up to your liability limit, and your policy would then pay your damages that exceed the amount received from the at-fault motorist and/or their insurance company. Basically, if your award is higher than the limit carried by the other party, your coverage would pay.

In order to have SUM coverage activated, any one of the following six conditions must exist as regards the other motorist:

1. They have no insurance at all. Believe me, this does happen.

2. The owner and operator of the car is unknown (better known as a Hit and Run)

3. They have insurance, but their limits are lower than yours.

4. They have insurance, but it's limits have been used up to pay others injured in the same accident.

5. They have insurance, but the claim is denied by their insurance company.

6. They have insurance, but it is unavailable because their insurance company is insolvent. (out of business, etc.)

Here's an example: Let's say you purchased a policy with a SUM limit of $100,000. You are subsequently injured in an auto accident by a motorist who only has the minimum limit of $25,000. If your damages are determined to be $60,000, then you would collect $25,000 from the at-fault motorist and $35,000 under YOUR SUM coverage from your company.

If the other driver had no insurance, you would collect $60,000 from your company. If the damages had been higher, you still would have another $40,000 available under your SUM coverage that you could collect.

This coverage is for bodily injury only, not damage to your vehicle.

Higher limits of Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist insurance coverage are not required by law because legislators decided that many people could not afford the coverage and that the financial burden should be placed upon those who can afford it. Unfortunately, there are many drivers on our roads with no insurance at all. So my recommendation will always be to buy the highest limit of this important coverage that you can afford.

CM
Avalon Agency
800-676-4921

New York Auto Insurance  |  Online Defensive Driving Course  |  Connecticut Auto Insurance  |

Once Again Flood Insurance is NOT Reauthorized
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Unfortunately, the Senate has once again voted down legislation that would include extending the government subsidized flood insurance plan. All Flood insurance in the US is subsidized by the government and managed by the NFIP, which is the national flood plan. The program needs to be reauthorized regularly and it has been over 2 weeks now since it expired for the third time this year.

Unfortunately, the other provisions being added to the bill that would extend coverage have given rise to fears of increasing our ever-growing national deficit, and so it was voted down, leaving millions of Americans vulnerable in this new 2010 hurricane season.

Here is a brief article from the Insurance Journal on the issue.

Because the program was not reauthorized, the NFIP nor it's agents cannot issue new policies, increase coverage, approve renewal policies or pay claims.

It is very frustrating for us, as agents, because we have no other options for our customers for Flood insurance. If you are affected by this issue, you should try to contact your congressional representative and urge them to stop the short term extensions and seek to provide consistency and dependability to the NFIP.

Also, you should urge them to support HR5114, a Flood Insurance Reform bill that would provide a multi year extension of the NFIP through 2015, promote a phase-in of actuarial rates increases coverage limits and add additional living expense coverage to flood insurance policies. 

Here are links to help you find your representatives:

U.S. Senators

House of Representatives by State

I will definitely post when the plan is authorized once again. Here's hoping we get a longer term solution this time.

CM
Avalon Agency



Auto Insurance   Home Insurance  Business Insurance  New York Car Insurance 


New York Defensive Driving Course is now ONLINE! SAVE MONEY!
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Want to save 10% on your auto insurance? Now New Yorkers can take the Defensive Driving Course totally online!

You can sign up at our website here, and take the course for just $34.95! Just scroll down on our home page. The link is on the bottom left. Save a lot of money on your auto premium and it's good for 3 years!

Check it out now! For just a little time on your computer you can save a bunch of money.

CM
Avalon Agency

No Fault Coverage and Your ATV
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No-Fault coverage, usually listed as Personal Injury Protection, or PIP, on your automobile insurance policy, became required as a result of the passing of The New York Comprehensive Automobile Insurance Reparations Act of February 1, 1974. Legislators and insurance companies wanted to ensure that injured motorists received prompt and sufficient medical treatment and replacement of their income without being burdened by litigation. Before the law was put into affect, only 14 percent of liability premiums in the state actual reimbursed accident victims for their economic losses and it took an average of 16 months to collect. (via PIA Article "An explanation of New York's no-fault law and ATV PIP insurance benefits.")

Is PIP coverage required for ATVs? Yes, when they are operated  off the owner's property, but it only applies to injured pedestrians. Those riding on the ATV are not eligible for PIP benefits. However, unlike the no-fault benefits on your auto policy, there is no restriction on an injured rider's right to collect non-economic damages (pain and suffering).

Under the no-fault coverage on your auto policy, benefits are paid to the insured regardless of fault. In this way it is felt that wasted litigation expenses and redundancy in benefits is avoided. You as the insured do give up your right to sue for non-economic damages (pain and suffering) however if the injury is severe enough to reach a "verbal threshold", a list of 9 injury types, you may then pursue those types of damages. This is that list:

  1. A personal injury that results in death;
  2. Dismemberment;
  3. A significant disfigurement;
  4. A fracture;
  5. The loss of a fetus;
  6. Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system;
  7. Permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member;
  8. Significant limitation of use of a body function or system; or
  9. A medically determined injury or impairment of a non- permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.
PIP benefits consist of four types of compensation:

1. All eligible medical expenses incurred without time limitation.
2. Income loss payments up to $2000 per month for nor more than 3 years.
3. Other expenses incurred (e.g. housekeeping or transportation) up to $25 per day for not more than a year.
4. Death benefit of $2000 payable to cover the person's estate.

It is possible that some of these losses may fall under other sources of payment, such as Worker's Compensation, state disability or social security benefits, which may contribute with your ATV insurance to help compensate the injured person for their basic economic losses.

In New York, the minimum limit for PIP that must be carried is $50,000. Other than that, there are no other PIP requirements for autos or ATVs. Most companies do not offer other options for ATVs.

Just remember, if you plan to ride the ATV off of your own property, you must insure it and this coverage will need to include Bodily Injury and No-Fault (PIP) coverage.

Be safe. Wear a helmet. Be alert. And enjoy!

CM
Avalon Agency

Good Info: 7 Ways to Save on your Homeowner's Insurance
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This information is from a great article I found on the net. It enumerates seven things you can do to save yourself money on your Homeowner's insurance. And I agree with all of them.

Here are seven things you can do to keep homeowners insurance costs down while maintaining the coverage you need: 

  1. Comparison shop. If you want the best rates, you need to look around for options. If your insurance company knows you’re looking around for a better deal, they may even be willing to help you find ways to save some money, too. If they can’t provide a better price, consider switching insurance companies.
  2. Take advantage of multiple policy discounts offered by the insurance company. Most homeowners insurance providers offer a discount when you have more than one type of insurance with them. For example, you may qualify for a significant discount if you insure both your home and your vehicles through the same insurance company.
  3. Consider installing security and safety equipment in your home. Some insurance companies will give you a discount based on things you can do to lessen risk. Installing a security system or eliminating a potential safety hazard, for example, can actually lower your insurance premiums. Your insurance agent can tell you what specific sorts of things you can do in this area to save money.
  4. Keep on top of your credit score and credit report. In some states, insurance companies are not allowed to consider your credit rating when quoting the cost of homeowners insurance. In other states, however, there are no limitations like this. If you’re in a state that does allow it, make sure that there are no errors in your credit report, and try to address any rough spots there might be.
  5. Increase your deductible. You may be able to get a better rate by increasing the deductible. The deductible is the amount you need to pay in the event of an insurance claim before the insurance company will actually pay out.
  6. Consider electronic payments or automatic debits. Some insurance companies will give you a discount if you set up your payments to come out of your checking account automatically. While the savings usually aren’t especially large, they can surely add up over time.
  7. Talk with your insurance agent. In New York & Connecticut, give us a call at Avalon Agency. Different companies offer different discounts. Ask your agent or your insurance company representative what kinds of discounts are available, and see if you can find a way to qualify. Your agent should be willing to work with you to make sure you know what options are out there.

Doing these things won’t always guarantee a lower homeowners insurance premium, but more often than not they will get you some sort of discount. In some cases, the savings on your homeowners insurance can be significant.

I know we love to give people quotes because it's a free service we can offer and when we save someone money, we really feel like we've accomplished something, especially in this economy when we are all trying to save a dollar.

CM
Avalon Agency
 


What Makes A Flood?
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Everybody is thinking about Flood Insurance these days, even here in Bedford, New York and the surrounding areas. Watching all the damage and destruction around the country play out on our televisions and monitors, we can't help but wonder what we would do if we were faced with the same situation.

Flood Insurance is certainly available to anyone, but it is important to understand what a "flood" really is, or what it is considered to be by the flood plan, which subsidizes all flood insurance sold in the US. Here is the definition they use:

"Flood" is defined in the Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP), in part, as:

A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is your property) from overflow of inland or tidal waters, from unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source, or from mudflow.

So, water rising from the ground from a heavy rainstorm is not a flood, and would not be covered under a flood policy. Actually, rising water is not covered under a homeowner's policy either.

But you can buy what is called "Water Backup" coverage. For a very low premium you can usually add this coverage to your home policy and you can cover water damage caused if drains or sewers back water up into your home, or if your sump pump fails and the same happens.

Now Water Backup coverage won't cover a flood situation, and vice versa, but at least there are these avenues available to cover some forms of water damage to your home.

We've recently sent a mailing to all of our insureds offering to add this coverage to their policies. We recommend it. And we also will quote flood coverage for anyone who is interested. Sometimes, just a small amount of money can offer a huge amount of peace of mind.

CM
Avalon Agency





Worker’s Compensation: To Buy or Not To Buy?
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Or maybe the better question is “Are they employees, or aren’t they?”.

 

It’s an important distinction, because certain employees are required to be covered for Worker’s Compensation coverage, and others are not. And even though it may not be a requirement, it may be a good idea to cover them anyway.

 

Homeowner’s usually don’t consider themselves employers, but many would be surprised to find that they are, under certain circumstances. Let’s try this: which of the following types of “employees” do you think would need to be covered: the babysitter, the 15 year old neighbor who mows your lawn, your neighbor who helps you paint your house for free, your live-in nanny, your gardener, cook, companion, nurse, or the builder you hire to renovate your home.

 

The answers to this question will surprise you in some cases. First of all, an employer/employee relationship must exist, which would require the homeowner to pay compensation benefits should the worker become injured. If the worker is an independent contractor, no coverage by the homeowner would be required. Also, if there is no contract, meaning the work is being done without compensation, the comp law would also not be applicable. However, there are exceptions to even these rules.

 

One such exception is the domestic worker employed for less than 40 hours per week. What a domestic worker is is not explained in the New York State Workers’ Compensation Law, but Black’s Law Dictionary defines a “domestic servant” as the following: “a person hired or employed primarily for the performance of household duties and chores, the maintenance of the home, and the care, comfort and convenience of members of the household”. There are many examples in the rules, but in the end the Workers’ Compensation board decides on a case by case basis.

 

Another exception is Casual Employment, consisting of yard work, household chores, repairs, and painting in or about a one-family, owner occupied residence. It refers to basically a single job, with no ongoing work. Casual employment that takes 40 or more hours to complete in a week is not subject to the comp law, however an injured party is likely to try to argue that their work was not casual should they become injured and wish to receive compensation.

 

Casual Employment by Minors is another exception. A minor is anyone 14-17 years of age doing yard work or household chores in and about a one-family, owner occupied residence or the premises of a nonprofit, noncommercial organization, not involving power-driven machinery. It is surprising for most homeowners to find out that Federal Law prohibits minors under 16 from operating power-driven machinery, INCLUDING LAWN MOWERS. New York’s labor law allows 14 or 15 year olds to operate this machinery ONLY if an employment certificate (working papers) has been obtained.  AND if you hire a 16 or 17 year old to mow your lawn, you are required to purchase Workers’ Compensation coverage.

 

Something else to be aware of: if you hire a 14 or 15 year old to mow your lawn, and they do not have working papers, you can be liable for double the amount of any claim payable under the compensation coverage that you should have had. And this penalty is NOT insurable, so you would be paying this out of pocket, as well as any penalties from the state for not having the coverage, which can be very expensive. Your best bet is to not hire anyone under 16 to mow your lawn.

 

The last major exception is a minor, 14-17 years of age, engaged in baby-sitting. This class of employee, as well as any other you hire for less than 40 hours per week, would be covered under an endorsement on your Homeowner’s policy, HO 24 93, which was required on all policies that offer personal liability coverage on homes that have from 1 to 4 families, and are occupied by their owners, as of March 1, 1985.

 

There are two very important distinctions here to mind. One is that these exceptions only refer to Owner Occupied homes and the other is whether or not the employee is working more or less than 40 hours per week.

 

So obviously, a worker hired for more than 40 hours per week needs to be covered, such as the live in nanny. That classification is called “Inservant”, and the coverage usually runs about $350 per year. And unless the employee falls under one of the exceptions, even part time employees, hired for regular work that is less than 40 hours per week, need to be covered. Yes, domestic and casual workers are two of the exceptions, but just remember that the Workers’ Compensation board looks at each case and it is possible that your employee could convince the board that their work was neither domestic nor casual. No exceptions apply to rental dwellings that are not owner-occupied or any dwelling with more than 4 families.

 

In the end, the best advice we can give you is to purchase Workers’ Compensation coverage for any worker you hire to work on your home. Just because they are not required to have it, does not mean they will not sue you if they are injured. True, they would have to prove that you had breached some duty of care owed to them, and your liability coverage on your Homeowner’s insurance would pay for your defense, but the most prudent thing to do is to have the coverage to begin with.

You can visit our website or call us at 914-234-5678 for more helpful insurance information or for a free quote. Have a great day!

CM
Avalon Agency


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