Dog owners: protect yourself from an expensive dog bite claim


Do you have a dog? If so, you want to be sure that your dog is trained, that you comply with any state or local restraint laws, and that you are adequately covered by your insurance. Although the number of dog bite claims is trending down, the cost for those claims is trending up – the average dog bite claim is now $37,214. That’s the national average so depending on where you live, the cost might be higher: Arizona was $56,654, California is $44,983 and New York is $44,320. Ouch.

May 15 through 21 is dog Bite Prevention Week. Learn how to prevent dog bites and how to keep dogs from taking a bite out of your insurance.

The Insurance Information Institute has some great information on Dog Bite Liability:

There are three kinds of law that impose liability on owners:

1) A dog-bite statute: where the dog owner is automatically liable for any injury or property damage the dog causes without provocation.
2) The one-bite rule: where the dog owner is responsible for an injury caused by a dog if the owner knew the dog was likely to cause that type of injury—in this case, the victim must prove the owner knew the dog was dangerous.
3) Negligence laws: where the dog owner is liable if the injury occurred because the dog owner was unreasonably careless (negligent) in controlling the dog.

Also, see our prior post about 10 dog breeds that might cause problems with your home insurance

Some insurance companies will limit homeowners insurance availability based on dog breed or dog history. PropertyCasualty360 has an article on the 10 dog breeds most often blacklisted by home insurance carriers.

Many insurance companies don’t have a blanket breed ban. The MSPCA cites several national insurers that will instead “… work on a case by case basis, considering the individual dog’s behavior and history, and may require a meet and greet with the dog and/or a Canine Good Citizen certification.”

And here’s a good infographic from the American Veterinary Medical Association:

dog bite infographic

Vintage insurance advertising!


Photo from the library of Congress

Photo from the library of Congress

Photoshop has nothing on the photo montage specialists of the 1800s, who were adept at “trick photography.” Witness this historic Civil War era image title “Union Commanders” from the Library of Congress. Linton Weeks of NPR’s history department took a closer look, noting that although the photo is dated 1884, several of the people in the photo had been dead for decades by that point.

It turns out it the “photo” is an example of an early insurance ad – from one of our insurance company partners, no less: A caption on the photo says “With compliments,” signed by Travelers Life and Accident Insurance Co. There was a similar image produced of Confederate generals.

NPR asked the folks at Travelers about the photo:

“The photo-artist “used individual photographs of the Confederate commanders and created a composite picture of them together,” she says. “The figures were cut from the print and pasted on a painted background. This process would be similar to using software like Photoshop in today’s terms to place images together in one photo.

“The idea of using the pictures as advertising came from Maj. Edward Preston, the Travelers superintendent of agencies, Davidson says. “The first copy of the ‘Confederate Commanders’ was delivered to Jefferson Davis by the Travelers representative in Montgomery, Ala. Copies also were sent to all the living generals in both pictures.”

She adds that the success of the ad campaign prompted more composites, including “Famous American Authors,” “Eminent Women” and “Famous Editors.”

Photoshop may have made photo manipulations easier for the average person, but photo manipulations go way back. Check out this fun gallery of 15 Photo Manipulations Before the Digital Age.

Whether using photos or illustrations, trade cards were a common form of advertising in the 1800s for all types of products and services. Life Insurance was a pretty common theme. Explores some fascinating examples of Victorian Trade Cards.

Don’t let a valuable collection go up in smoke: Talk to your agent about insurance


Comic book big explosionAre you a collector? If you’ve amassed a significant collection, you may want to have its value appraised and consider adding specialty coverage or an endorsement to your homeowners insurance policy. Whether your collection is fine antiques, stamps, musical instruments, vintage costume jewelry or comic books, it can amass in value. You should talk over your collection with your insurance agent and see if it makes sense to protect your investment.

Take comic books. Vintage comics that were bought for mere pennies in the last century are now valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. A few prized comic editions have even reached into the millions at auctions.

This PropertyCasualty360 video is a case in point. Shawn Moynihan interviews Vincent Zurzolo, COO and co-founder of Metropolis Collectibles, a large and respected rare comic book dealer. It’s interesting from several perspectives: as a business case study of a fascinating niche business, as a discussion of commercial risk management, and also in the lessons it offers to personal hobbyists and collectors about protecting investments.

Zurzola shares interesting information about Metropolis Collectibles’ huge comics collection and the risk management steps they take for protection. He also has a few words for personal collectors. He says that just the way you protect the investment in your home or car by having insurance, you should protect your valuable collections too. He says, “… collectors feel like they are insured through their homeowners insurance policies sometimes they are and sometimes they’re not and finding out when its too too late is a tragedy.” He shares a cautionary story about an uninsured client who lost a valuable collection in Hurricane Sandy. He also notes that because collectibles frequently increase and decrease in value, it’s a good idea to do an annual review every year when insurance policies are up for review. He suggests that if you can’t evaluate your collection yourself, seek the help of an expert.

Does homeowners insurance cover flooding?


flooded streetWe’ve said it many times before and we’ll no doubt say it again: Typical homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. This is one of the biggest consumer misconceptions we hear – and a painful, costly lesson to learn by experience. You need a separate flood insurance policy to be covered – and your policy must be in place for at least 30 days to be in effect, so a last-minute purchase when you hear about flooding potential would be too late. September is National Preparedness Month, and in this first week, the emphasis is on flood prep – so it’s a good reminder.

Now if you have water in the cellar from a burst pipe or some other household failure, your homeowners insurance may cover your flooded basement damage. But for storm-related, flooding damage, you’d need flood coverage. Here’s a listing of what is typically covered in a flood insurance policy.

While you may think your flood risk is negligible, floods and flash floods happen in all 50 states. Here are a few interesting flood facts from floodsmart.gov that you may not know:

  • In the past 5 years, all 50 states have experienced floods or flash floods; Flash floods often bring walls of water 10 to 15 feet high.
  • People outside of mapped high-risk flood areas file over 20-percent of all National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance claims and receive one-third of Federal Disaster Assistance for flooding.
  • Your home has a 26% chance of being damaged by a flood during the course of a 30-year mortgage, compared to a 9% chance of fire.
  • A car can easily be carried away by just two feet of floodwater.
  • From 2010 to 2014, the average flood claim amounted to nearly $42,000.

Learn more about your flood risk and get an estimated coverage cost. If you don’t have flood coverage, it’s time to talk things over with your independent insurance agent.

Here are some other flood tools:

Kids heading off to college? Double check insurance coverage first


Depositphotos_36351205_s-2015

If you have a child headed off to college, it’s time to check your current insurance policies and have a talk with your insurance agent to ensure your student has adequate protection.

Homeowners / renters insurance
If your student will be living in a dorm, their possessions may be covered by your homeowners policy for perils like fire, theft, vandalism and natural disasters such as a hurricane. But your coverage may have limits – the Insurance Information Institute (III) explains:

“Other policies may limit the amount of coverage for a college student’s belongings to 10 percent of the total amount of a policy’s overall coverage for personal possessions. So if parents have $100,000 worth of personal possessions insurance for the family’s primary residence, for example, only $10,000 would be applicable to possessions in their youngster’s dorm room.”

If your student has expensive electronic equipment, as many students do, you should check limits to ensure you have adequate coverage. Laptops, smartphones, tablets and TVs can add up! Plus, talk over cost/benefit scenarios related to deductibles with your agent. You want them high enough to keep insurance rates reasonable but not so high that it will create a hardship to replace a stolen laptop.

Not in a dorm? If students will be living in an apartment, your homeowners probably will not cover them. Renters insurance is inexpensive and may be the best bet. See our recent post that covers myths and misconceptions about renters insurance.

Auto insurance
If your student is under the age of 25 and college is within 100 miles of your home, he or she may be covered by your policy. If further than 100 miles away, the student still may be covered on your policy if they only drive while visiting your home. If your student will only be driving while on college breaks, talk to your agent to see if this could help to lower rates – you may be able to get a discount.

If your student will be 100+ miles away with a car, a separate policy may be required. Talk to your agent to determine the best option for your situation. III also suggests checking to see if your student is eligible for any “good student” discounts or whether safe driver training programs could reduce rates.

Tuition Insurance
Check to see what the college refund policy is. If tuition is very high, you may want to talk to your agent about a specialty tuition reimbursement insurance coverage that would kick in if the student had to leave school due to an unforeseen illness or physical disability – or in the event of the student’s death. Typically, these plans do not provide reimbursement for students who are expelled or who decide to leave the college for other reasons.

Identity theft insurance
Students are at high risk for identity theft. You may want to educate them about safety concerns and it might be worth investing in an ID theft protection product.

Stand-alone coverage for electronics

III suggests this option: “Parents may want to look into acquiring stand-alone policies for desktop computers, laptops, tablets and iPads, and other electronics as they may provide coverage against accidental damage, liquid spills and other events not included under a standard homeowners or renters policy. Keep in mind that if you are using a credit card to buy such items, some insurance protection may also be available through the card itself.”