Archive for Auto Insurance

Insurance Tips for Back-to-School Time

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College is expensive enough without finding out too late that an accident or theft isn’t covered under your current policies. So, as you get your children ready to head off to school in the fall, there’s one vital “to-do” to add to your list (other than writing that tuition check): a review of your insurance coverage.

It’s important to keep in mind that policy language varies from state to state, and there are never “one-size-fits-all” situations, but below is a general guide. If you have questions, or want to go over your insurance needs, don’t hesitate to contact us!

 

HOMEOWNERS (may vary by state and individual policy)

  • Coverage of personal property: Most homeowners policies provide 10 percent of Coverage C (Personal Property) for property owned by an insured that is at a residence other than the insured’s. For example, if the contents of a policyholder’s home are insured for $100,000, a student’s property up to $10,000 would be covered if living in a dormitory – provided the damage is caused by a covered peril and the student meets the definition of an insured.
  • For apartments or houses off-campus, the same coverage generally applies. Certain items, such as jewelry or expensive electronics, may require special coverage, or a “rider.” Renters insurance is strongly recommended if a particular policy does not cover a student’s personal property.
  • Liability coverage: There usually is an exclusion for damage to property rented to an insured, so generally damage to a dorm room or apartment would not be covered.
  • Ensuring adequate coverage: Contact us to get specific answers and information about your coverages. Also, it’s a great idea to create an inventory of the items your student is taking to school, as is keeping photos of and receipts for the items.
  • Renters insurance: If your student’s needs can’t be met under your current policy, don’t forget renters insurance. Landlords’ policies generally only cover the structure, not the possessions of renters.

 

AUTO (may vary by state)

  • Coverage without a car at school: If your student will continue to drive while at home on school breaks, they should continue to be listed on your auto policy. If they are attending school more than 100 miles from home, and are not taking a vehicle with them, the policy may qualify for a distant-student discount.
  • Coverage with a car at school: In most instances, a car registered to parents and listed on their policy will be covered if used by a listed student away at school. But you should make sure that your insurance carrier writes coverage in the college’s state and location. And note that a change to the principal location of the vehicle could result in a change in premium.
  • Driving a friend’s car at school: Students generally would be covered while driving a friend’s car if the students are listed on their parents’ policy and do not have regular use of the vehicle. The coverage would likely be secondary in this case, as the carrier for the friend’s vehicle likely would be the primary coverage.
  • Coverage discounts: In addition to the possible distant-student discount mentioned above, students may qualify for a good-student discount. To qualify, most insurance carriers require that a student must be enrolled in at least four courses per term as a full-time student at an accredited college or university and meet certain academic qualifications. Also, drivers under the age of 21 who complete a driver education course may be eligible for a policy discount.

 

Going away to school is an exciting time for both students and their parents. Making sure you’ve got the right insurance coverage can help you protect your assets as you invest in your child’s future. We’re happy to discuss your coverage and options — just give us a call or stop by!

Everyone Who Hates Speeding Tickets, Raise Your Right Foot!

pexels-photo-451590Slow down, save money and lives

How many times has the following happened to you? You’re speeding down Rt. 30 when you spot a police car. You quickly hit the brakes and slow down, relieved that you didn’t get caught…this time. Now take a minute to think what could have happened if you hadn’t been so lucky.

First, your speeding could have hurt somebody-or yourself. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, speed is a contributing factor in more than 30% of fatal crashes and nearly 20% of non-injury accidents. That’s a big risk to take. Second, getting a ticket could put a big hit on your wallet. Of course, that’s not nearly as important as the health and safety impacts of speeding, but in this economic climate, more and more people are watching every dime. And who wants to write a check to the state for speeding?

At Duncan Financial Group, we want you to be safe. We also want to make sure you get a great price on the insurance coverage you need. Thankfully, easing up on that lead foot can help accomplish both.

How a ticket impacts your insurance

If you get a speeding ticket, that violation can stay on your driving record for three years or even longer. And because your driving history plays a large part in determining how much you’ll pay for insurance, the fewer tickets you have, the better. Different carriers have different policies when it comes to checking your driving record and dealing with drivers who have violations.

If you receive a ticket, and it’s your first in several years, you may not see much of an increase… depending on the severity of the offense. In fact, many states will allow you to enter a deferment program if it’s your first ticket, keeping the violation off your record if you complete a safety course and avoid further tickets. But that second ticket (or third, or fourth) can bring some serious financial penalties.

While there are too many variables to say specifically how much each additional violation will increase your premium, it’s safe to say that the jump will be significant. And unfortunately, you can be stuck paying those higher premiums for years. Significant violations can have a bigger impact as well. If you’re going 20 miles per hour over the limit, you’ll likely pay more than someone with a ticket for 5 mph over.

Insurance companies know that speeding increases the risk of accidents, and they’ll view you as an increased risk… for good reason. In fact, if you have a serious violation, or too many tickets, your insurance carrier could drop your coverage altogether. For younger drivers (typically under the age of 25), it’s especially important to avoid tickets, because companies already view these drivers as riskier than the general population

. And keep in mind, even if your premium doesn’t go up, having a violation on your record could prevent you from receiving the lowest possible rate on your insurance. Of course, we think the best policy is simply to obey speed limits.

Not only will you avoid tickets and possible insurance hassles, but your risk of accidents will decrease. And you’ll get better gas mileage. Sounds like a good deal to us!

I’m borrowing my friend’s car am I covered?

pexels-photo-97079Most people have an idea of what’s covered and not covered under their various insurance policies. But at Duncan Financial Group, we get a lot of questions about borrowing or loaning a car.

Now that summer is here, and you might be looking to borrow your neighbor’s truck for a home-improvement project or a trip to the local landfill, we thought it was a great time to provide a little more information.

Generally, insurance coverage follows the vehicle rather than the driver. So in most instances, as long as the owner of the car has insurance, it’s covered even if someone other than the owner is driving it — as long as they have the owner’s permission.

The borrower’s insurance is considered secondary, meaning that in the event of an accident, it could apply if the owner’s insurance is insufficient to fully cover the damage.

It’s important to note that there are some exceptions to what is called comprehensive use coverage. For example, permission must be given by the owner, unless the borrower has a reasonable belief that they are allowed to use the car. However, the borrower cannot give permission to someone else. So if your teenager allows one of his or her friends to drive your car to {local destination}, your coverage likely won’t apply.

Coverage might also be denied if the borrower operates the vehicle in a negligent or criminal manner. And if the borrower is using your car for business purposes, your personal auto policy likely won’t cover that.

If you have a regular long-term arrangement to either borrow or lend a car, the borrower should probably be added to the owner’s personal auto policy. Those who don’t own a car, but often borrow one, might also consider named non-owner coverage, an endorsement that provides bodily injury and property damage liability, uninsured motorists coverage and more.

Ultimately, it’s usually safe to loan your friend your car for occasional errands or projects. And the same goes for borrowing a car. Just make sure it’s for normal use. You’ll want to confirm that the car has coverage and that your insurance, whether you’re the owner or borrower, will apply.

Feel free to give us a call if you have any questions. After all, you don’t want to wait until after an accident to get answers!

Before You Hit the Road… Tips for the College-Bound

road-people-street-smartphoneA Few Tips for the College-Bound

College is expensive enough without the added cost of unexpected accidents or theft, not covered by your insurance policy. If you have a student heading away to school, below are a few tips to help you get the most out of your coverage.

HOMEOWNERS (varies by state)

  • Personal Property:  Most homeowners policies will cover personal property for up to 10% of your total policy while your child is residing at school (a $100,000 policy equals $10,000 in coverage). Not all types of damage are covered, so read your policy carefully. Some items such as jewelry or expensive electronics, require special coverage. Renters insurance is strongly recommended.
  • Liability Coverage:  General damage to a dorm room or apartment is not usually covered.
  • Documentation:  Creating an inventory of the items your child is taking to school is a good idea. Use photographs and keep receipts.

AUTO (varies by state)

  • Car Stays Home:  Keep your child listed on your auto policy if they will still drive your car while at home on school breaks.
  • Car at School:  Make sure to notify us if your child will be taking a car away to school. In most cases, if the car is registered to you and listed on your policy, it will be covered.
  • Driving a Friend’s Car:  Students are generally covered if they are listed on their parent’s policy and are not regularly using the vehicle. The coverage would be secondary.  The insurance for the friend’s vehicle would be the primary coverage.
  • Discounts:  A full-time student meeting certain academic requirements can qualify for a good student discount. Distant student discounts may also be available. Drivers under 21 who have completed driver’s education may also get a discount.

Before your child leaves for school, Duncan Financial Group at  (724) 863-3420 or e-mailbfornalczyk@duncangrp.com. We can walk you through the steps to ensure you have the right coverage. We’re here to help!

Cut Road Trip Costs

pexels-photo-1052344 Tips to Help Cut Road Trip Costs
There’s no better way to see the country than a road trip, and it’s also the way to travel if you’re looking to keep costs under control. To that end, here are a few ideas to help ensure you have a frugal good time out there on the road.

1. Cut your gas costs. Planning your route in advance will help you estimate your gas costs for the entire trip. Then, when you’re on the road, use the GasBuddy smartphone app to search for the lowest gas prices near you. Of course, you’ll also want to stick to the speed limit and keep your tires properly inflated to help improve your gas mileage.

2. Cut your food costs. Think about picnicking and cooking in rather than eating out. Packing healthy snacks in advance won’t just save you money, it may help save your waistline from the drive-through line, too. You’ll also get to explore the local grocery stores and see the different foods available in different parts of the country. And, don’t forget your reusable water bottle to fill up at water fountains.

3. Cut your lodging costs. Why not book a “room” outdoors? As long as you have room in the car for your camping gear, that is. Oftentimes you can book campsites in advance online. Look for campgrounds with nice facilities, such as showers and even Wi-Fi, and you won’t even sacrifice much in the way of comfort. But, you will save a considerable amount compared to staying in hotels. If the outdoor life just isn’t for you, look for last-minute hotel deals using apps from Hotels.com, Priceline or Orbitz.

4. Cut your entertainment costs. No matter where you’re headed, you can likely find some enticing entertainment options that are either free or low-cost. Check the official tourism websites of the cities and states on your route. Depending on the season, you might come across free concerts, lectures or plays at local parks and libraries. Or, check with museums about free admission days.

Whether you’re planning a long weekend or a couple of weeks on the road, we here at Duncan Financial Group wish you happy travels! Remember, we’re here to handle all of your car insurance needs to help keep you on the go.

Teen Drinking = Insurance Issues

Duncan Financial GroupSummertime is no school time for teenagers and parents taking vacation, leaving their children unsupervised. Unfortunately, these events often become occasions for teens to drink alcohol. Teens at unsupervised parties risk harming themselves and others when they drink. Parents who host these parties might bear responsibility for what happens there and for injuries or damages occurring after the guests leave. Although their Liability insurance might cover any financial damages, the circumstances of the accident determine which policy will respond, and this will affect how much coverage the parents have.

Assume that a guest consumes several beers at the party, drives off in his car, and gets into an accident, injuring himself and a passenger. The parents of both injured teens sue the parents who hosted the party, who in turn notify their Homeowners insurance company. However, the policy’s personal liability coverage does not apply to an insured person’s legal liability for:

  • The occupancy, operation, or use of a motor vehicle by any person
  • The entrustment of a motor vehicle by the insured person to anyone else
  • The insured person’s failure to supervise or negligent supervision of any person using a motor vehicle
  • The actions of a minor involving a motor vehicle.

Because of this, the Homeowners policy will not cover the parents’ liability or defense costs. Their Personal Auto insurance policy might cover them, however. The policy’s liability insurance covers the individuals named on the policy and household residents who are their relatives for their liability for bodily injury from an accident arising out of the use of any auto. Therefore, even though the parents were not actually operating the vehicle involved in the accident, their policy will cover their liability. In addition, the auto policy that applies to the car involved in the accident (the guest’s insurance, or, more likely, his parents’) will also cover the hosts’ liability for the passenger’s injuries. The hosts’ policy will step in if the owners’ policy either does not apply or pays out its maximum limit of insurance.

Now assume that the guest consumes the beer, but a sober guest gives him a ride home. Rather than go straight to bed, the young man goes for a swim in his parents’ pool and drowns. His parents sue the hosts, alleging that his judgment was impaired because the hosts allowed him to drink. In this situation, the homeowner’s policy should pay for the hosts’ liability and legal defense. Because this accident did not involve a motor vehicle, and no other policy provisions that would remove coverage apply, the policy will cover this claim.

Although one policy or the other might apply to a liquor liability claim, there could be significant differences between the amounts of coverage the two policies provide. Most homeowner’s policies provide personal liability coverage of at least $100,000 for each occurrence; many provide limits of $300,000 or $500,000. Auto policies might provide much less coverage. Most states have laws setting the minimum amounts of liability coverage that an auto policy might provide, but those limits are relatively small. For example, New York law requires minimum limits of $25,000 for injuries to one person and $50,000 for injuries to two or more people (higher amounts apply for death claims.) Should a young person become seriously injured or killed, the damages claimed could well exceed these amounts. Parents should consider buying as much liability insurance as they can afford; they should also think about buying an umbrella policy, which pays for damages that surpass the amounts payable under homeowner’s and auto policies.

Of course, the best course of action is to properly supervise parties, so that everyone has a good time and lives to have another one someday.

For more information on y0ur Auto or Homeowners Policy, contact Duncan Financial Group today!

Cover Yourself With an Umbrella

3In today’s “litigation culture,” with million-dollar legal settlements all too common, anyone – including you and your family – could easily face ruin from a lawsuit, whether serious or frivolous. Even if you won, you’d be out thousands of dollars in defense costs.

A Personal Liability Umbrella can help ensure financial peace of mind by providing coverage up to an amount you’ve selected over and above the Liability limits under your Auto or Homeowners policy. Insurance companies often set minimum limits for Umbrella coverage. If you’re sued, the bulk of the settlement will come from your HO or Auto policy, with the Umbrella picking up the rest. Bear in mind that many insurers will only offer this coverage if they write both your HO and Auto insurance.

An Umbrella policy also extends coverage for you (and your family and pets) beyond basic bodily injury and property damage to personal injury, property damage, or bodily injury from a variety of exposures ranging from false arrest and defamation to invasion of privacy and wrongful entry. For example, Umbrella coverage would make sense if you own a dog that might snap or bite, or have one or more “attractive nuisances” (such as a hot tub, swimming pool, or swing set), and like to invite guests on a regular basis.

Depending on your situation, you might consider alternatives to an Umbrella policy, such as increasing Liability limits. Also remember that Umbrella coverages vary from state to state. For example, many policies won’t cover claims for punitive damages, intentional acts, or activities related to business.

To make the best choice and make sure that you understand Umbrella coverage and any loopholes and exclusions, be sure to check with our insurance professionals.

For more information on protecting your gaps with an Umbrella Policy, contact Duncan Financial Group today!

Using an Umbrella to Cover Gaps in Coverage

In today’s “litigation culture,” with million-dollar legal settlements all too common, anyone – including you and your family – could easily face ruin from a lawsuit, whether serious or frivolous. Even if you won, you’d be out thousands of dollars in defense costs.

A Personal Liability Umbrella can help ensure financial peace of mind by providing coverage up to an amount you’ve selected over and above the Liability limits under your Auto or Homeowners policy. Insurance companies often set minimum limits for Umbrella coverage. If you’re sued, the bulk of the settlement will come from your Homeowners Policy or Auto policy, with the Umbrella picking up the rest. Bear in mind that many insurers will only offer this coverage if they write both your Homeowners and Auto insurance.

An Umbrella policy also extends coverage for you (and your family and pets) beyond basic bodily injury and property damage to personal injury, property damage, or bodily injury from a variety of exposures ranging from false arrest and defamation to invasion of privacy and wrongful entry. For example, Umbrella coverage would make sense if you own a dog that might snap or bite, or have one or more “attractive nuisances” (such as a hot tub, swimming pool, or swing set), and like to invite guests on a regular basis.

Depending on your situation, you might consider alternatives to an Umbrella policy, such as increasing Liability limits or raising your deductible under your HO or Auto policies. Also remember that Umbrella coverages vary from state to state. For example, many policies won’t cover claims for punitive damages, intentional acts, or activities related to business.

To make the best choice and make sure that you understand umbrella coverage and any loopholes and exclusions, be sure to check with one of our Duncan Financial Group representatives at (724) 863-3420

Duncan Financial Knows How To Properly Insure You for Your Needs!

DuncanHere at Duncan Financial we know how to properly insure your car. Our Auto Insurance polies are customized to fit your needs and can include the following coverage:

  • Liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage for which you are legally responsible
  • Medical Payments for bodily injury caused by an accident, to you or family members that reside with you
  • Uninsured Motorist Coverage will cover you in the event that you or family members that reside with you are injured or your property is damaged due to a driver that does not have auto liability insurance
  • Under insured Motorist Coverage will cover you in the event that you or family members that reside with you are injured or your property is damaged due to a driver that has automobile liability limits less than what you currently carry.

For a free quote simply give us a call at (724)863-3420

Making Your Smart Phone Insurance Smart

Duncan Financial You have the phone and the capabilities that come with it. Using the phone to manage all of your insurance affairs is not only smart; it will put you ahead of the game if you need to access your insurance information or if you end up having a claim. There is no better place than on your smart phone to store all the information and tools because it is likely with you at all times. The best news is, the resources are there and putting them in place is a snap.

The first thing you should do is to see if your insurance company has an app for your phone. If they do, downloading such an app is a no-brainer. These apps are available as a free added value service to you. The best part is that most of these apps have a number of capabilities. This includes nearly everything from accessing your policy information to submitting a claim and everything else in between. For example, if you get into an accident, some apps allow you to take photos and submit them together with a claims form you complete right on your phone. This means you can submit a claim within minutes after an accident happens, together with all the photos documenting the incident.

Although reporting a claim is probably the most valuable advantage of these apps, another advantage is having access to your policy information anytime you need it. What is your policy number? When does your policy renew? When is your next payment due? How much coverage do you have? All of this is right at your fingertips. For example, if you need your policy number and information for your job or you are driving kids on a field trip and the school needs it, these apps make it easy to access all this information.

Although most insurance carriers do have apps, even if your carrier does not have an app, the phone itself can be a valuable resource. For claims situations, the phone’s camera is just about the best mobile documentation tool you can have. Also, if you are away from home, the ability to connect to the internet to look up resources such as the nearest towing company, the insurance company’s website, and of course your agent’s phone number can be your greatest asset. Best yet, you can use the phone’s map to get directions to the closest place you may need to get to.

In addition to insurance company apps, there are a number of other applications that might be available. One example is a home inventory app that will help you to setup and organize photos or video of your entire home inventory. This can come in handy in the unfortunate event that you have a fire or are burglarized, as insurance companies will need an entire inventory to complete forms when processing the claim. Another example of a helpful app is document storage and sharing app such as box.net or dropbox.com. These apps allow you to store and share documents and images virtually in what is referred to as a “cloud” format. This basically means that you can upload and save images from a computer to the cloud, and then you will have access to those images from your smart phone or any other computer.

Investing a little initial time to download and setup apps and other resources to make your phone “insurance smart” is well worth it. It will not only save you time when you need this information, it will allow you to be stay ahead of the game, even possibly being able to provide enough evidence to prove you are not at fault in an auto accident. You are 95% there by having a smart phone, and the benefits are too great not to take the next step in using the insurance-ready resources that are available.

Contact Duncan Financial Group in Irwin, Pennsylvania at 724-863-3420.