Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Safe Travels this Holiday!

The Holidays are in full swing and with Christmas just a couple of days away; many have already started their Holiday travels. Being the insurance people that we are, here are a few tips for a safe and secure season of travel.

1) Make your home seem like someone is still there. You can do this several ways. Leave your front and back porch lights on so that at night your house is lit up. Ask a neighbor to collect your mail while you are gone so it doesn’t stack up. You can also ask the post office to hold if for you until you get back. Another way to make it look like you are home is to ask a neighbor to pull in and out of your driveway at some point if it snows giving the appearance that you have been in and out of your house.

2) Don’t show off to the Facebook world that you are on vacation. I know this can be tough for some but letting everyone know you are out of town on Facebook can be dangerous. We recommend waiting until you get home from your trip before you post vacation pictures.

3) Car travelers should be prepared for heavy snow at all times. The best way to do this is to make sure you have extra blankest, windshield washer fluid, ice scrapers and even a small shovel. You never know when you might need any of those things. Also, be sure to have your phone charged during the trip so that you have it in case of an emergency.

4) Don’t skimp on heat in your home: This time last year our big recommendation in our “Traveling Over the Holiday” blog article was to keep the heat in your house at a reasonable level so your pipes don’t freeze. Again, we recommend this.

Those are just a few simple tips. We here at Fey Insurance hope you have a wonderful Holiday and Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Business Medical Payments

Your business liability policy covers you for claims due to your negligence. Medical payments coverage provides payment for bodily injury to third parties that occur on the premises you own or rent as a result of your operations regardless of negligence.

The rationale for this coverage is insurers believe an injured party is less likely to sue you if they receive prompt payment for their medical expenses. Medical payments coverage expedites payment to an injured party without their having to sue.

A relatively high medical payments limit chosen by you might reduce the chances of a minor claim escalating into a lengthy and expensive claims process.

For claims that might be larger than your chosen medical payments limit, the liability portion of your policy would apply if it were determined that you were negligent. Regardless of your fault the commercial liability policy will provide a defense if you are sued by a third party, even if the claim is groundless.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Auto Insurance Basics

States have laws requiring drivers to carry auto insurance, sometimes referred to as financial responsibility laws. There are a number of ways a driver can show his ability to pay for injuries and damages. By a wide margin, auto insurance is the most common form of financial responsibility compliances and is the most frequently purchased form of insurance.

The two basic components of auto insurance coverage are liability and physical damage coverages. Liability coverage will pay for your negligence resulting in bodily injury and or property damage. Claims for bodily injury could include claims for medical expenses, lost wages, consequential damages including pain and suffering. Property damage coverage pays for the damage you may do to the property of others. Liability coverage includes the cost of defending yourself against liability claims. A companion coverage that is of great value is uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage protects you if you are injured by an uninsured driver.

Physical damage coverage can provide collision and or comprehensive coverage. Collision coverage provides payment for damage to your automobile as the result of a collision with an object. Comprehensive coverage pays for the damage to your auto by causes other than collision. Collision and comprehensive coverages are optional and not required by law. If you have a lien on the automobile, the lender will require you carry these coverages.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cyber Week

Monday this week was Cyber Monday. This was the Black Friday equivalent for online retailers. Many online retailers have extended the single day event and have been calling this Cyber Week. We at Fey Insurance bring this up because it is very important for both consumers and retailers to be cautious about identity theft during this time. Earlier this year we posted a blog article about Password Protection and we encourage you to revisit that article for tips on creating secure passwords. Also, below you will find a poem that was posted on and was written by Amanda Lorenz. The poem has a few good tips for online holiday shoppers, so we wanted to share it with you:

Identity Theft: A Christmas Poem
by Amanda Lorenz

Twas the month before Christmas and all through the house,
All the children were networking with the click of a mouse.
Cyber thieves were nestled all snug in their chairs,
Waiting for shoppers to unknowingly share.
As I shopped for him and he shopped for me,
The thieves stole our money and our financial history.
We did not even realize that this information was taken,
And we thought the denial of our credit card was mistaken.
Using Phishing or SMiShing and hacking the links,
Our private information was retrieved in a blink.
Perhaps we should have shopped on a network that was secure,
Or at least checked our credit reports monthly to be sure,
That thieves were not using our names and our faces
To purchase plane tickets to tropical places.
So to all of the shoppers who like to avoid the crowd,
Protect your info this season and make CyberInquirer proud!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Damage to Rented Premises

Any time a business rents or leases a space to operate from they sign a contract. In that contract are insurance requirements stating that the tenant will carry certain liability limits. Normally they will ask the tenant to carry a commercial general liability policy, and more often than not they ask for at least $1,000,000 per occurrence limit. The reason they ask for this is that if the tenant is the cause of a fire or other type of damage to the rented building, the landlord wants to make sure that the tenant’s insurance will pay for the damages, and not their own insurance.

Commercial General Liability takes care of a lease contract with two different types of coverages. The first is the coverage I mentioned above of $1,000,000 per occurrence limit. This coverage, however, only gets the tenant half way there. The per occurrence limit doesn’t cover for actual areas of a building that the tenant rents or leases. It will pay for only the part of the building that is not rented by the tenant. An example might help explain this better.

Let’s say that business XYZ, Inc rents unit A of a four unit office building. If XYZ, Inc causes a fire that extends damages to both unit A and unit B, the per occurrence portion of their insurance policy will only cover damages to unit B. It will not pay for damages to unit A because it is leased or rented by them.

Damage to Rented Premises (sometimes called Fire Legal Liability) is the other coverage a tenant needs when they rent space. This coverage is often included in a general liability policy as well but many times is not specifically mentioned in lease contracts. In the example above, Damage to Rented Premises would be the coverage that would pay for unit A that XYZ, Inc. rented.

The reason I bring this up as a blog article topic is because the Damage to Rented Premises is often overlooked. Since it is left out of many lease contracts, businesses don’t think to check with their insurance carrier about the coverage. Your typical commercial general liability policy will only include $100,000 to $500,000. If company XYZ, Inc. in the above example rented a large space, this may not be enough coverage, and they could pay for some of the damages out of pocket.

So next time you rent a space for your business be sure to have Fey Insurance Services review the lease and double check your commercial general liability insurance limits to make sure you are covered in case of a large fire.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Online Backup Programs

In a recent article on we read a few frightening statistics:

1) Of the 700 million computers in the world, about 10% will crash each day.

2) 50% of the business who did not have a back up of their files will never reopen in the event a main computer or server crashes.

3) Only 6% of internet users actually back up their data on a daily basis.

The best way to avoid becoming one of the tragedies is to invest in an Online Backup program. For home use there are a number to choose from such as Mozy, Carbonite, IDrive, MiMedia, Norton Online Backup, SOS Online Backup and others. Presently they are easy to setup and once in operation they will all automatically backup any changes you make to your computer's files without you having to do a thing.

Depending on the size of your computer's hard drive and the speed of your Internet access, the initial backup can take some time. It can range from a few hours, to days or even a full week. If you have a lot of digital photographs on your computer, you could be looking at a week or so for the initial backup. But once the initial backup is established, the Online Backup will do incremental backups only on files which have changed or new files added since the last backup. Those incremental backups will run fairly quickly. Before deciding if Online Backups for home or business are for you, consider what the ramifications would be if you lost all of your personal photos or all of your business records in a computer crash.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Winterize Your Outside Faucet

Disconnect your outdoor hoses from their outdoor faucets before it gets too cold. We have already had the first freeze warning for Fall 2010, so if you have not done so, now is a good time to disconnect your outdoor hoses from their outdoor faucets and store the hoses away. If you fail to do this, you run the risk of the water in the attached hoses freezing and cracking the water pipes going into your house. In the Spring when you turn on the hose you could have substantial water damage in your home from the cracked pipes.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Insurance Term: "Underwriter"

When discussing insurance, whether in the news or with your own insurance agent you hear the term “Underwriter”. I thought that with this blog post I would tell you a little bit about what an underwriter does in the property and casualty insurance world and tell you where there name comes from.

An underwriter is a person who works for a financial institution, and for this blog we will specifically talk about a property and casualty insurance company. The underwriter’s job is to assess risk and determine if an individual or business is eligible for the insurance company’s products and what pricing they will receive. They pour over the data give them by either you the customer, your insurance agent, other third party data sources and/or the historical data of your account to help them come up with their decisions.

So where does the term “Underwriter” come from? Back in the late 1600’s groups of merchants, investors and sea captains gathered at a little coffee shop in London owned by a man named Edward Lloyd. Between sips of Ed’s coffee the merchants who had a large cargo of goods to ship overseas would sit down with business investors and ask them to give some kind of financial backing if something happened to their cargo of goods while being shipped. Investors would agree to pay for the lost cargo if the ship didn’t make it to its destinations but required a fee or premium from the merchant for taking on this possible loss. Eventually the merchants started to post on the walls of Ed’s coffee shop the amount of backing they needed for their shipment. The investor would then come and writer their name under the request and there the contract was bound. The fact that the investor wrote “under” the request is key because there is where they came up with the term “Underwriter”.

One other item to note; does the named Lloyd sound familiar? Edward Lloyd’s coffee shop was the birth place of Lloyd’s of London.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Products and Completed Operations Hazard

If you manufacture, sell or distribute a product, there is a possibility that the use of the product could cause bodily injury. The example everyone thinks of is a stepladder. Next time you are at the home improvement store take a look at all the warnings that ladder manufactures put on their product. Who really needs to be told not to stand on the top rung of a ladder? But, it is because of the product liability hazard that manufacturers feel it is necessary to include so many warning with their products. Even if you are not the manufacturer, and simple sell someone else’s products, you could still be liable.

The second part of this coverage is completed operations coverage. If you install or repair products such as a heating system, you could be negligent should damage be caused by your work after you work is done. Let’s say that you installed a new furnace in a restaurant, and later that day a fire ensues. The fire marshal determines that product literature that was left inside the furnace caught fire further melting a plastic cover causing black smoke to spread throughout the premises. The business had to close until repairs and cleanup could be completed. A substantial amount of money was lost and the cleanup was in the thousands of dollars.

Both of the situations cited above would be covered if your policy includes products and completed operations coverage. Not sure if your package includes this coverage; give us a call to review.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Insurance Score, What is it?

When it comes to figuring out what premium an insurance company is going to charge a person to insure them, there are a lot of factors. On a homeowner it depends on the year the house was built, where the home is located, what kind of construction is the house, etc. On auto insurance it was based on age of the driver, type of vehicle, how much you drive the car, what type of limits and deductibles you have, etc.

A number of years ago a new factor was added to this list for both home and auto insurance called insurance score. An insurance score helps insurance companies determine the future likelihood of auto or home claims. The insurance score takes into account two major categories. The first is your past claims history, meaning what claims have been reported and paid by the home and/or auto insurance company.

The second is your financial behaviors. By financial behaviors they mean things like your current outstanding debt, how much credit history you have, how often you pay or not pay bills on time, have you ever foreclosed or declared bankruptcy, how often do you apply for credit card or other loans. It does not factor in, however, your age, race, income level, marital status, etc.

So what does this insurance score do to your insurance premiums? Well, if you have a good insurance score, companies give you a break on pricing because they feel you are less likely to have insurance claims and therefore should be paying less in insurance premiums. If you have a poor insurance score, then they may charge debits to your insurance premium which can then cause your premium to increase. As mentioned earlier, insurance companies feel that if your insurance score is poor then you are more likely to have claims and therefore you should pay a higher premium.

This is great news for those with good insurance scores but bad news for those with poor scores. So, it is important to stay on top of your financial behaviors, not only so you can get a good credit score and better loan rates but also so that you can have a good insurance score and have better insurance premiums. It is important to make sure you monitor your bill paying, keep outstanding debt to a reasonable level and just have a good overall credit history.

One final thought, Fey Insurance Services is not a big fan of insurance scores but it is something that all insurance companies are using. The main reason we are not a big fan of insurance score is that there is no way to inform a customer exactly why their score is what it is. Your credit score is a big factor in determining the insurance score, and it is private information. We prefer methods all parties totally understand. However, as mentioned previously, all insurance companies are filed with the states to be able to use these scores so it is out of our control. We can simply keep you educated on how it can affect you and make you aware of the factor.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Leaving Your House Vacant? Consult Your Agent!

In today’s real estate market it can be somewhat common to purchase a new home with out having first sold your current home. Prices are low so if you want to upgrade your house, now seems to be the time even if you know you may have to wait a few months until you sell your current home. So many are purchasing a new home, moving into it and then leaving the old home vacant until it sells. This can pose an insurance problem that Fey Insurance feels many don’t realize.

In a typical homeowner policy there is wording that refers to a 60 day period. For sixty days your homeowner policy will have no change in coverage once it becomes vacant. However, and this is important, once the house has been vacant for 60 days some of the coverages are no longer provided. Example, vandalism or malicious mischief claims would no longer be covered. Same with glass breakage claims. The reason for this is that a homeowner policy is priced and designed for buildings that are being lived in and cared for by the owners. Once the owner no longer lives there and it is vacant then the building is more at risk for claims and therefore the insurance companies require it be on a special vacancy policy. What does vacancy mean? Vacancy means the following, “Substantially empty of personal property necessary to sustain normal occupancy.”

So if you are considering purchasing a new home and leaving the current home vacant until it sells, please be sure to call your insurance agent so they can make sure coverages don’t disappear from your policy

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cincinnati to have a Ban on Texting While Driving

On Wednesday Sept 8th Cincinnati’s City Council voted to ban texting (reading or writing) while driving in Cincinnati, OH. This new law carries a $100 fine. The offense is a primary offense meaning you can be pulled over if all you are doing is violating the texting ban. The new law is scheduled to go into effect in the next 30 days.

You can still use your phone to make calls and you can still use portable GPS Navigation Systems. One thing to make note of on the GPS devices is that you are only allowed to input information into the device if the vehicle is not moving and is out of the way of traffic. The extra stipulation on use of GPS Systems leads me to believe you can be pulled over for inputting data into the device while you are still driving.

Our Cincinnati insurance agency office wanted our clients to know this information so that they can be safe and legal when driving around the Cincinnati, OH area.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rental Car Insurance: Buy or Not Buy

During the summer our agency receives a lot of phone calls from clients who are sitting at the airport getting ready to sign up for a rental car. The rental car employee has just asked them if they wish to purchase the “extra” insurance from the rental car company, and they are not certain if their personal auto insurance protects them on rental cars or not. So they pull out the cell phone and call Fey Insurance Services. Our answer is always this, “It is not a black or white answer.

Unfortunately it is a gray answer so we recommend you purchase at least the “Collision Damage Waiver”. Normally the client is somewhat confused on what the “gray” answer is but the beach is calling and they want to get on their way. So, I thought with this blog article I would hit on two reasons why it is a “gray” answer when it comes to purchasing insurance from the rental car company on a rental car.

The first reason is contract language. Two contracts would be involved if you did not purchase rental car insurance from the rental car company. The contracts would be the one between you and the rental car company (the one you sign in order to rent the car) and the contract between you and your personal auto insurance company. Each of these contracts can be different depending on which rental car company you are using, which state you are in and which personal auto insurance company you have. Because of this there are all kinds of possible gaps in insurance coverage. An example gap is “loss of use”. A number of rental car companies will charge you for the loss of use of the car while it is in the repair shop after you caused an accident that damaged the vehicle. This means that if it takes a week for the car to be repaired they will charge you a week of rental. Some insurance companies do pay this extra cost and some don’t. Gaps like this can be avoided by just spending the extra money on “Collision Damage Waiver”.

A second reason we feel it is a gray topic and you should just purchase the extra coverage is that often times you drop off a car after your trip and no one from the rental car company is present to help you check for damages to the car. We have had a couple of cases where our clients received a letter from the rental car company seeking money for a ding or scratch. They swear they never caused any damage to the car. Unfortunately, when they turned the car in there was no one to sign off that the car was returned undamaged. So, when another vacationer in an unfamiliar car at an unfamiliar airport (who is late for their flight) pulls in next to you to drop off their rental car, and they bump into the car you had just dropped off twenty minutes ago, you have no way of proving you where no longer responsible for the vehicle when the damage occurred.

So we recommend you play it safe next time you rent a car and purchase at least the “Collision Damage Waiver”.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Avoiding Insurance Mistakes: Five Tips

Here is a great video from the Insurance Information Institute about five mistakes to avoid with your personal insurance policies. Our Oxford and Cincinnati, OH insurance offices strongly agree with these items.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Insurance and Your College Kids

Out in front of our Oxford, OH insurance office, it is a busy place. Today 16,000+ Miami University students return to begin a new school year. This annual pilgrimage brings up potential insurance issues pertaining to what parent's personal insurance policies cover or don't cover. Three areas that parents should be aware of:

(1) If your son or daughter is going away to school over 100 miles from home without a car, most companies will rate your Personal Auto Policy for them being married which is a nice discount. Let us know if this discount might apply to your family and your Personal Auto Policy.

(2) Most insurance companies will extend personal property (contents) coverage and personal liability for your son or daughter while they are in college and living in a dormitory. Some, but not all, will also extend coverage if they are living in off campus facilities such as an apartment or other student housing. Please check with us to see if your insurance company provides this extended protection. If not, we should be able to write a Tenant/Homeowner for your student to cover both their personal property and personal liability while they are an undergraduate. If they are in graduate school, they should definitely have their own Tenant/Homeowner Policy.

(3) If you or your children are using a rental truck to take their things back to college, U-Haul, Penske, Hertz and other will offer you coverage on the vehicle (collision damage waiver) and extended liability. While these may be covered by your Personal Auto Policy, not all companies extend the protection, so check with us before renting the vehicle. Whether or not they are covered will depend on the length and Gross Vehicle Weight of the vehicle and several other factors. We may be suggesting you buy the extra protection from the rental company before your trip.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Vehicle Title Transfer

Several times a month our Oxford and Cincinnati insurance office receive calls from customers telling us to delete a car from their policy because they had just sold the vehicle. We always make sure to ask if this transaction was done between two individuals or if they sold it to a dealership. When we learn that it was sold to another individual we always offer a word of caution about deleting the insurance on the vehicle right away.

A normal vehicle sale transaction consists of the current owner signing over the title to the purchaser of the vehicle. Once the title is signed over to the purchaser the purchaser goes to the Clerk of Courts in that county and has the title officially transferred into their name. As everyone who has had to go to the Clerk of Courts for one reason or another knows, sometime it is difficult to carve out time in your day to make it to the county office and wait in line. This is the type of "To Do" item that many would put off or not have time to do for several days. This putting off going to the Clerk of Courts to transfer a vehicle's title can cause a small problem for the person who had just sold and signed over the title. Technically until the title is officially switched over to the purchaser the liability for the vehicle can still fall back on the seller.

Our Oxford insurance office once had a claim on a vehicle that our client had signed over to another individual two years earlier. However, the purchaser never went and officially switched over the title and our insured was pulled into a claim on the vehicle two years later because his name was technically still on the title.

So next time you have a private sale of a vehicle be sure to follow up with the purchaser and make sure they have switched over the title prior to calling and deleting any insurance coverage on the car.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Social Media Risk Management Tip

My social media risk management tip is simple, think twice before you type a message, post a picture or join a group. Why, you may ask? Think back to the days when kids in grade school would pass notes back and forth during class. Often those notes could have damaging words written on them. They could be words that haunt the person that wrote them, the person who received them or a third party all together. However, the beautiful thing about those written scraps of paper is that they eventually got thrown away and are sitting in a dump far from anyone who could read them. Today those passed notes are now in the form of tweets, texts or Facebook posts. Today, those passed notes could be stored in the Library of Congress. Recently the Library of Congress announced that it would archive all public Twitter posts dating back to 2006.

Yesterday I read a New York Times article titled “The Web Means the End of Forgetting”, written by Jeffrey Rosen. It was a great article and sited a few examples of how those old Facebook or MySpace photo posts or text posts can come back to haunt individuals. The most famous example being Stacy Snyder who lost her teaching job because of a picture she had on MySpace. She even fought the situation in court and after two years of legal battle she lost in a federal district court. Rosen also talks about people who were fired from their jobs because of things they wrote on Twitter. This blog article could go on and on with examples of how things put on social media sites have come back to hurt individuals.

This Oxford and Cincinnati insurance office is not saying never to post on social media or that it is bad. We are just doing our job as risk managers and encouraging you to have fun but to be cautious in what you write or post.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Driving Drowsy

A 2008 study, taken from the Annals of Internal Medicine, suggest that some antihistamines may impair driving ability, even more than alcohol. The driver doesn’t even have to feel drowsy.

Forty study participants, when given diphenhydramine and an amount of alcohol to boost their blood alcohol level to .10 (legally impaired in most states), tested worse in a driving simulator when under the influence of antihistamine than under the influence of alcohol. A newer non-sedating antihistamine, Allegra, did not affect driving any more than the placebo given in a blind test screen.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates there are 50 million allergy sufferers in the United States. Allergies account for more than 17 million outpatient physician visits each year. Since the 1940s, antihistamines have been among the most widely prescribed medications. It is estimated that currently there are 30 million patients in the United State taking regular antihistamine medications in this $8 billion drug market.

If you have taken antihistamines, ask your doctor if a non-sedative prescription will work for you.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

When on The Go... How Your Homeowner Liability Insurance Follows You

Homeowner liability insurance provides financial protection against legal obligations of the insured arising out of activities and conditions at the premises where the insured maintains a covered residence.

This coverage also extends to a personal activities of the named insured and household members anywhere in the world. You are on vacation in Europe- you’re covered; your child is on a mission trip in Mexico- you’re covered.

The homeowner policy defines an insured location as:

  1. The qualifying residence premises where the named insured resides and which is shown as the residence premises described in the declarations.

  2. The part of the premises used by the named insured as a residence and shown in the declaration, such as a seasonal residence.

  3. Any premises used in connection with a residence as defined by one and two above.

  4. The part of any premises not owned by an insured where the insured is temporarily residing. Examples would include a hotel room or vacation condo.

  5. Vacant land, other than farmland, owned by or rented to an insured. Vacant land is generally defined as land upon which no man-made structures exist. An exception to this is land owned or rented to an insured on which a one to four family dwelling is being built as a residence for the insured.

  6. Burial plots or vaults of an insured.

  7. The part of premise occasionally rented to an insured for other than business use. An example would be a rented hall for a wedding reception.

An insured is defined as the person named in the declarations; that person’s spouse, as long as a resident of the household; relatives residing with the insured at the residence; and persons under the age of 21 and in care of the named insured, spouse or resident relative. This would include foster children or children for which the insured has guardianship.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Earthquake Insurance In Ohio?!

The big question going around on June 23rd was, “Did you feel the earthquake”. Many thought people were joking, but when they checked their Facebook page and saw that many of their friends in the Ohio area had felt the earth move, they knew the question was legit. The reason Ohioans felt the earth move was just north of us, Canada had a 5.0 magnitude earthquake.

Though we are not California or anywhere near California, Ohio still has their fair share of earthquakes. On average Ohio has 5 to 6 earthquakes a year. Year to date in 2010 we have already had 6, so the question that has to be asked of this insurance blog is should people in Ohio carry earthquake insurance? We at Fey Insurance Services feel that it is a good idea to have this coverage. It is something we always quote to our customers. For an average valued house the premium can range from $50 to $80 a year. Though we only have little earthquakes the potential for a large scale quake is there and if that happened the affects would be devastating to a home.

Feel free to get in touch with us to inquire about earthquake insurance.