Collision is commonly confused with comprehensive. They’re both optional coverages and pay to repair or replace your car (if it’s totaled). But they cover separate events. In short, collision covers accidents (other than with animals) and comprehensive covers events that are beyond your control such as theft, vandalism, hitting an animal, fire, glass breakage or an act of nature.
Think of it this way: Collision is colliding with another vehicle or object (other than animals). Comprehensive is all other events. Accidents with animals are covered by comprehensive (and not collision) because these accidents are considered out of your control. Also, you can’t add only collision. You have to add comprehensive first and then collision.

With warmer temperatures arriving earlier than usual, water season is well underway. Whether you’re out on your boat every day or just on weekends, boat insurance should be top of mind during the summer months — and even beyond.
Boat Insurance on the Water
Naturally, you want to protect you’re boat while you’re using it. It’s important, though, to understand the associated coverages to ensure you are properly protected. Choose from standard and specialized coverages, including:
  • Liability, which protects other people and property if you’re responsible for an accident
  • Comprehensive, for incidents such as vandalism, flooding, and fires that may happen to your boat
  • Collision, for instances in which you hit another object and damage your boat
  • Fishing Equipment, which protects your gear on board or while it’s being transported on or off your insured boat
  • Uninsured Boater, which protects you in case an uninsured boat collides with yours.
Boat Insurance off the Water
Protecting your boat while it’s on the water is an easy decision, but what about when it’s not on the water? What about when it’s sitting in a slip or even in your yard?
In fact, nearly 20% of all boat claims are filed between Labor Day and Memorial Day — when boating isn’t at its peak. Most of these claims are filed due to vandalism, theft, fire, or flooding, which can happen at any time, not just during warmer months.
And what about injuries? You’re most likely responsible if someone gets hurt on your boat, but did you know you could be responsible for injuries around your boat, too? If you bypass boat insurance, you won’t have liability coverage to protect you in cases that involve injury, which means you may be responsible for paying someone’s medical bills whether you’re using your boat or it’s sitting unattended.
Whether you store your boat in a marina or in your yard, you may want to rethink any decisions to cancel your boat insurance while it’s not being used.
What to Consider before You Buy Boat Insurance
Before you make any changes, be sure to check your policy and review it with your agent to make sure you’re getting the most for your money. Remember to look at what you have, then purchase boat insurance that covers your way of life. If you own a home, cars, a business, etc., you may want to consider a higher level of boat insurance coverage or an umbrella policy to protect your assets.

The start of summer is the perfect time to gather with family and friends for good food and fun times. This year, celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in a safe way. Our 4th of July safety tips cover a few key summer safety topics to keep you and your family safe this holiday.

Sparkler and Fireworks Safety

More than 50,000 fires are caused by fireworks every year. Take the proper precautions when operating fireworks.

  • Never disassemble or try to make your own fireworks.
  • Don’t point sparklers, or fireworks at yourself or others, especially while they’re being lit.
  • Only light fireworks on the ground and in areas that are dry and fire resistant.
  • Don’t attempt to light multiple devices at the same time.
  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks or sparklers.
  • Always keep a portable fire extinguisher close by. Also keep a water hose or buckets of water nearby to put out fires.

Water Activity Safety

As July is one of the hottest months of the year, many families turn to water activities to beat the heat. However, even fun water activities have serious risks if the proper precautions aren’t taken.

  • Review safe boating practices.
  • Never consume alcohol while driving a boat.
  • Before boating, always check that there are enough life preservers on hand for every passenger.
  • Set water safety rules for your family.
  • Pools should be enclosed completely with a fence to restrict access to the area. Consider installing wireless outdoor sensors that will alert you via phone or with a chime inside your home if the sensors are activated.
  • Keep a first aid kit near the pool.

Grilling Safety

July is one of the peak months for grilling fires. Enjoy grilling your favorite meals this summer while also keeping your family safe.

  • Check gas grill hoses for cracks, holes and leaks.
  • Keep children away from grills. Gas leaks, blocked tubes, and propane tanks can be a cause of grill fires and explosions.
  • Never grill indoors, in the garage, in any enclosed area or on a surface that might catch fire.
  • Keep the grill at least two feet away from decks, siding, branches and any outdoor equipment that can catch fire quickly.

Did you know that almost two-thirds of residential lessees in the United States don’t carry renters insurance according to the Independent Insurance Adjusters & Brokers of America (IIABA)? A renters policy is more important, accessible, and affordable than you might think. But renters are often unclear about what renters insurance is and what it covers.
Here are the top 5 myths—and the facts—about renters insurance:

  1. The landlord’s insurance covers your possessions. Don’t count on it. Most landlords’ insurance covers only the building and damages due to negligence. Coverage for some of the most common causes of property damage and loss, such as theft, vandalism, and fire, is entirely up to you. Without renters insurance, you may have to bear the financial burden of a loss on your own.
  2. Renters insurance is expensive. In this case, the numbers speak for themselves. According to the IIABA, the average renters policy costs just $12 a month for up to $30,000 in personal property coverage. That’s solid coverage for less than the cost of a couple of cups of coffee a week.
  3. You don’t need insurance if your stuff isn’t expensive. Most renters’ belongings cost more than they think. In fact, the average person has over $20,000 worth of belongings that are probably not covered by a landlord’s policy.
  4. Renters insurance covers only your possessions. In fact, renters insurance covers much more than just your personal property: The average policy also includes up to $100,000 in liability coverage. That means in the event of a covered loss your insurer will help cover the costs if you’re held responsible for injuring another person or damaging another person’s property, including your landlord’s. Moreover, this coverage applies whether the incident occurred within your residence or elsewhere.
  5. Renters insurance is hard to get. You can place a quick call with our agency. Answer a few questions and we’ll get you an instant rate quote.

After a disaster, you most likely want to fix your damaged home as soon as possible. However, did you know this is also a prime time for fraudulent contractors to scam you out of money? To help protect your home and your wallet, here are five tips to keep in mind when you’re hiring help for your home project.
1. Be Cautious of Door-to-Door Contractors
Be leery of any contractor who approaches you unsolicited. They may tell you they just completed a job in your neighborhood, have materials left over from another job or that they’re running a “one day only” deal — whatever the story, don’t buy it. A reputable contractor should have enough business from advertising and referrals to help keep them busy without knocking on doors, so make sure to reach out to contractors you find through respected sources.
2. Find a Reputable Contractor
You can find dependable contractors in online listings, referrals from friends and family or organizations like the National Association of General Contractors. You can also search on the BBB website to learn more about the contractor and check for a history of complaints.
Also, be sure to ask your contractor for proof of liability insurance, licensing, bonding and any references. A trustworthy contractor will typically have these handy and be more than happy to share them with you.
3. Consider Multiple Bids
You may want to consider getting multiple bids on all of your contractor jobs to help ensure potential quotes are consistent and fair. And when it comes to price, the lowest may not be the best. If one bid is dramatically lower than the rest, you may want to get more information from that contractor to see if there are any extra charges that may get added later on and ultimately make that contractor more expensive.
4. Don’t Pay the Full Amount Up Front
It’s unconventional to pay for 100 percent of the work up front. If your contractor suddenly insists on payment up front, it’s a red flag. Once paid, you may never see that contractor — or your money — again.
Make sure you receive a contract with details of the work to be performed and the costs involved.. Typical payment terms are about 10 percent up front and the rest upon completion of the work. Also, it’s best to avoid paying in cash — instead, use a credit card or check so you have a paper trail.
5. Educate Seniors on Scams
Scammers have learned to target the elderly. Make sure your older family members are familiar with the common red flags. Also, if you’re older and living alone, it’s a good idea to run any home improvement projects by people you trust.
With a little research, you may be able to avoid a potential home improvement scam and find a contractor you can trust.

Summer is the perfect time and perfect weather to spend outside getting your yard and outdoor spaces in tip-top shape. But before you head outside, we want to remind you that simple precautions can ensure your work is disaster free.
Here are our top 10 yard work safety tips that can help you — and your family — avoid a trip to the emergency room.
1- Know your equipment. Before operating a new lawn mower read the owner’s manual and all of the safety information. Ditto for your weed trimmer. Check with the manufacturer of your tools to make sure there haven’t been any safety recalls.
2- Practice Ladder Safety. You’ve heard it again and again, but always check to make sure your ladder is firmly set on a level surface. Never set ladders on boxes or other objects to make the ladder reach higher areas. Lock or barricade any doors that may open toward ladders. Also, never stand on the top rung or step of a ladder – your balance could be jeopardized.
3- Watch your children. Every year, thousands of children nationwide are injured by lawn-care tools. That’s why we recommend keeping small children inside while you’re mowing or trimming. At a minimum, do not allow children younger than 12 to operate a push lawn mower and anyone under the age of 16 to operate a driving lawn mower. Do not take children on rides with a riding mower.
4- Check your extension cords. Before use, check your extension cords for cracks and seal them with electrical tape. If you find any frayed wires, replace the cord. And remember, never run extension cords through puddles.
5- Protect your body. This one is simple: wear protective gear. We all know that lawnmowers hit rocks, sticks and other items that can be turned into flying projectiles. Wear long pants to protect your legs from flying objects and wear non-slip, closed toe shoes instead of sandals. Don’t forget your eyes and ears! Sunglasses will protect you from sun and earplugs can eliminate loud noises from machinery that could cause a substantial amount of hearing loss.
6- Store tools and materials in safe places. A range of injury can be caused by stepping on, landing on or being hit with garden tools like shovels, rakes and trowels. Do not use these tools when in close proximity to children. When not in use, store them in safe, enclosed areas. If you have small children or pets, weed killer or lawn fertilizer can be deadly. Seal bags and store at heights where small children cannot get in to potentially harmful materials.
7- Don’t dig without approval. Check with your local utility companies before you dig trenches, holes or any other cavity in your yard. You do not want to be responsible for accidentally hitting gas, electrical or sewer lines – the results of which can be extremely hazardous, not to mention expensive.
8- Be conscious of electricity. Don’t leave electrical tools plugged in while not in use. When ready to use a tool, make sure equipment is in the off position before you plug it in. And, as is obvious, always turn equipment off and unplug it from an outlet before you attempt to fix the machinery.
9- Get green smart. Before you or your children do any “hands on” weed removal, be sure you know how to identify poison ivy, sumac, oak and similar toxic plants. Find out ahead of time how to treat the rashes they cause to reduce the irritation.
10- Be Smart. It’s obvious. Never operate lawn machinery or use heavy garden tools while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
A vacation home can be a wonderful luxury and sometimes even a good investment, but there are some important factors to consider before making the leap into second-home ownership—such as insurance costs. Just like your primary home, you’ll need to insure your vacation home against burglary, fire, weather damage, liability and other risks. Because insurance can add significantly to the price of buying and owning a vacation home, you may want to consider the likely insurance costs before deciding on a specific property.
Key Factors Impacting Vacation Home Insurance Costs
For a number of reasons, insurance for a vacation home can be more expensive than the coverage on your primary residence. Notably, your second home may often be unoccupied, putting it at greater risk for theft, vandalism and undetected damage, like burst water pipes. When you shop for a vacation home, it’s important to recognize that the following factors will impact your insurance costs:
  • Location—The location of any home is always a factor in pricing insurance policies, but it can be especially significant for vacation homes. The very location that makes a vacation home desirable may also make it more expensive to insure. For instance, a ski house or hunting lodge in a remote or mountainous area could be at greater risk for damage due to wildfire. A beach house may be more exposed to wind damage or storm surge from a hurricane. These location-based risks will impact the price of coverage, and in some cases may even incur higher deductibles.
  • Type of Property—As is the case with any house, a vacation home’s age and types of building materials used will impact the cost of insurance. In addition, these costs will vary depending on whether your second home is a single-occupancy house, a condominium or a townhouse. A condominium, for instance, may have lower insurance costs because the homeowners association maintains and insures the exterior of the property and may provide security. Generally, the cost of insuring the structure of the unit will be included in the monthly maintenance fees. Your personal condo insurance will cover your belongings and specific areas of the unit listed in the policy.
  • Amenities—If your vacation home has a pool, hot tub or other special amenity that adds risk, you may pay a higher insurance premium. You may also want to purchase more liability protection as these items are considered “attractive nuisances” that lead to a higher probability of liability claims being filed.
Will You Rent Your Property?
If you plan to rent your vacation home to others, your homeowners insurance costs will likely increase, and you may need to purchase additional coverage. Your insurance needs will depend on how often you rent out the property and for how long. For a one-time short-term rental, you may be able to add a simple extension (an “endorsement”) to your existing homeowners policy. On the other hand, if you plan to regularly rent out your second home, you may need separate business coverage or a landlord policy. While some rental services, such as Airbnb and VRBO, offer coverage for homeowners, it’s important to read the fine print to determine limits and exclusions.

People leave stuff in their cars every day. We drop our cell phones in the cup holder, leave a bag on the floor, and throw our golf clubs in the back seat. We’re human, so we forget about this stuff, park, and go inside. It happens. The thing is, sometimes when we come back to our cars, the things we left aren’t where we left them.
Does insurance cover this type of claim? If so, is it your homeowners insurance policy or auto insurance policy?
Some homeowners’ insurance policies treat your car as an extension of your house. That means your personal property coverage would protect almost anything (purses, luggage, camera equipment, electronics…all kinds of things) stolen from your car. This coverage may even be better than what’s offered by comprehensive car insurance! For instance, did you know comprehensive coverage usually doesn’t cover jewelry, clothing, and accessories kept in your car?
Keep in mind, though, that any claim would be subject to a deductible (most likely $500 or $1,000).
If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact our office.

As agents we are often asked a number of difficult questions relating to auto insurance coverage and how the coverage will respond in various situations.  One of the most frequent questions we receive is in regards to purchasing the collision damage waiver when renting a car.
You know the routine. You just got off of the plane for your vacation.  You’re ready to go hit the beach, but first you have to go through the dreaded conversation at the rental car desk.
“Would you like to upgrade to a bigger car?”
“Don’t need it.”
“Would you like to rent a GPS system?”
“Brought my own, thanks.”
Now, the biggie:  “Would you like to pay for the collision damage waiver?”
Before you quickly reject this one as well, we want to give you 5 reasons below on why you should strongly consider purchasing the collision damage waiver the next time you rent a car.
1.    Loss Valuation and Settlement. Did you know most rental agreements allow the rental car company to determine the value of the vehicle solely at its discretion if you are involved in a claim?
So if you are in an accident that totals a vehicle that is a few years old, the rental car company can still charge for a brand new vehicle.   A standard auto insurance policy only pays “Actual Cash Value” of the vehicle, which means you will be stuck with the difference in value.
2.    Indirect Losses.  If there is an accident you will most likely also be responsible for the loss of rental income incurred by the company while the damaged vehicle cannot be used.   And, while many auto policies will provide some coverage for this, there have been many cases where individuals are still charged thousands of dollars above what their insurance company would pay for.
3.    Administrative Fees.  If you damage a vehicle, there is a good possibility the rental car company will add additional charges for expenses such as towing, storage, and claims adjustment calling them “administrative fees”.   Your insurance policy will not provide coverage for these expenses, either.
4.    Diminution of Value.  This is another fee the rental car company can add on if the damage to the vehicle is over a certain amount.   For example, if a rented vehicle sustains more than $1,000 damage, many companies will charge an additional percentage fee (typically 25%) because they figure the sustained damage has now decreased the value of the car and their ability to sell it.   Your auto policy isn’t picking up this fee.
5.    Loss Payment.   If you happen to damage a vehicle, it is common for the rental car company to immediately charge your credit card for the damage to the vehicle.  This can create a huge mess as could potentially max out your credit card. This can create some real headaches with your insurance company.
One of the provisions within your policy is that the insurance company needs to be able to inspect the vehicle so they can accurately calculate a damage amount.  However, the rental car company may not wait for an adjuster, and it is common for them to charge your credit card and begin repairs immediately.
The problem is that the provision within your insurance policy mentioned above may actually give your auto insurance company the right to deny the claim as they were not allowed to properly inspect the vehicle.
Between just the fees associated with damaging a vehicle, the valuation process, and payment mess, you can see how you could easily be out thousands of dollars.   By not signing the waiver, you may potentially be setting yourself up for some huge personal expenses.
Recommendation:  We know you don’t want to pay more money for the waiver, but believe us, if you happen to damage a rented vehicle, you’re life will be a thousand times easier than if you hadn’t signed and paid for it.
Also, please double check to see how your own insurance policy will react to some of the claims scenarios above.
Disclaimer: The above information is to be used as guidance only, and it is not to be considered as definite in any particular case.   Every policy is different and you need to read through your policy and consult with your agent to best determine how your coverage will respond.  The information provided is based on the ISO standard Personal Auto Policy in force in most states. Policy provisions and laws vary from state to state and they can change at any time.  Due to the brevity of this article, we cannot analyze every possible loss exposure and exception to the general guidelines above.

There’s a difference between an insurance company canceling a policy and choosing not to renew it.
Auto insurance cancellation
Insurance companies cannot cancel a policy that has been in force for more than 60 days except when:

  • You fail to pay the premium
  • You have committed fraud or made serious misrepresentations on your application
  • Your drivers license has been revoked or suspended.

Auto insurance non-renewal
Either you or your insurance company can decide not to renew the policy when it expires. Your insurance company must give you a certain number of days notice and explain the reason for not renewing before it drops your policy (the exact timeframes and rules will depend on the state in which you live).
There are a number of reasons an insurance company may choose not to renew a policy, and it may have nothing to do with you personally. For example, your insurer may have decided to drop that particular type of insurance or to write fewer policies where you live.
However, a nonrenewal can also be due to your record or your actions. Doing something to considerably raise the insurance company’s risk—like driving drunk—would be cause for non-renewal.