The waiving deductible practices of some contractors has been a widespread issue throughout Texas and other states. Policyholders are duped into fraudulent insurance claims with promise of “rebates, deductible waivers, and credits” for their business. Most commonly done in the roofing industry, shady “deductible eaters” (contractors who have been knowingly breaking the law) are cannibalizing reputable contractors with promises of a “free” roof. Their practices are illegal but ignored due to an improperly worded doctrine developed in 1986 in attempt to stop fraudulent practices.
The revised House Bill 2102 signed last month by Governor Abbott is designed to combat the devastating effects of roofing fraud. It clearly states that contractors are violating the law if they pay, rebate, credit, or decline to charge or collect a deductible. Insurance companies may ask for reasonable proof of payment which are: canceled check, money order receipt, credit card statement or an executed installment plan. If there is not a proof of payment for the deductible, the insurance company can then refuse to pay the replacement cost hold-back. The new law also imposes a Class B misdemeanor offense of 180 days in county jail and a fine of up to $2,000 for both the violating contractor and/or the policyholder.
This important legislation will both protect Texas consumers from illegal fraud schemes and ensure that reputable contractors are on an even level playing field in competitive business.
Umbrella insurance provides extra liability coverage that can help protect assets, such as your home, car and boat. It also helps cover defense costs, attorney fees and other charges associated with lawsuits.
What Does Umbrella Insurance Cover?
Whether it's a serious car accident involving pricey medical bills or an incident on your property, you can quickly find yourself responsible for damages that exceed the limits on your auto, homeowners or boat policies.
An Umbrella Insurance Can Provide:
- An extra $1 million to $10 million of liability coverage, which can help protect assets such as your home, car and boat.
- Coverage for claims like libel, slander, defamation of character and invasion of privacy.
- It also helps cover defense costs, attorney fees and other charges associated with lawsuits.
- This coverage also extends to international occurrences.
An umbrella policy is a valuable addition to any auto, homeowners or other policy for extended personal liability protection.
In today's world, anyone can get hit with a lawsuit. That's why it's more important than ever to consider an added layer of protection for your assets – and your peace of mind.
So, your son or daughter is gearing up to leave for college in a few weeks... Have you thought about insurance and if he or she is covered while at school?
Let's tackle this question: Your homeowners insurance will generally cover them if they are living in a dorm. They will have the same liability limits as if they were in your home, but the coverage for their belongings may be limited to 10% of your total possessions coverage (the rules vary by insurer). Many homeowners insurance policies cover possessions up to 70% of the home-coverage limits -- so if you have a $200,000 homeowners insurance policy, you’d have up to $140,000 in coverage for your possessions in your home, and up to $14,000 in coverage for items that are off-premises, such as in a dorm room. Add up the value of your student’s things and make sure you have enough coverage -- you may want to buy some extra coverage if they have an expensive computer system and other valuable electronics.
However if your student is going to live in an off-campus apartment, your homeowner's insurance policy will more than likely not extend coverage. In that case, it’s a good idea to buy a separate renters’ insurance policy. Renters’ coverage is surprisingly inexpensive -- generally just $125 to $250 per year, which would cover all of the student’s possessions and provide $100,000 to $300,000 in liability coverage. If your student has roommates, each one should get his own renters’ insurance policy, which will cover his own possessions and liability.
Most renters’ policies will also pay the extra cost to live somewhere else temporarily if your student needs to move out for a while if the apartment is damaged. And both homeowners and renters’ policies will cover your student’s laptop or other items if they are stolen while they are away from their dorm or apartment. For example, a laptop stolen at the school library would be covered.
Lastly, make sure and let your insurance agent know that your student is going away to college even if he does not take a car to school. If he goes to school more than 100 or 150 miles away from your home and doesn’t take a car, you could get a big discount on your auto insurance premiums but still have coverage for him when he comes home for holidays and vacations, or if he borrows a car while away at school. If he does take a car, his premiums may rise or fall depending on the location of the college, where he’s parking his car, and how many claims the insurer has had to pay in that area. Also, be sure to let your insurer know if your student gets good grades -- many insurers continue to offer a discount on car insurance premiums for students who maintain a B average or better in college.
Summer is here. The sun is out and so are all of the people.
As crowds swell at the beach, in parks, and even on roadways, it all makes for some challenging driving conditions. More people are out and about, whether on foot, bike, or skateboard, or by car, motorcycle, or RV, increasing the risk of an accident. And, the summer heat isn’t exactly kind to your vehicle.
Still, there’s no stopping the allure of a summer drive. To help keep yours safe, keep your attention on the road and on your surroundings, as well as on these safety tips.
Summertime Safety Behind the Wheel
Just like winter, summer has its own set of seasonal hazards that require your complete attention as a driver. Here are some to be particularly mindful of:
- People: In your neighborhood, on city streets, in parking lots, and especially around parks, beaches, or any popular summer attraction, people are outdoors and often more focused on their enjoyment than on personal safety. Children are out of school and they might be playing in the street in a quiet neighborhood or chasing a basketball bouncing away from a driveway hoop. In summer, there is simply more human activity everywhere, and it’s up to you to slow down and stay alert.
- Bikes and motorcycles: Bicyclists and motorcyclists are also more active in good weather. Pay attention and take extra care in areas that attract cyclists.
- Glare: The sun’s glare is bright in summer, and even harsher when the sun is low and in your face. Have your sunglasses handy if you’re not already wearing them, and be ready to flip down the visor so you don’t spend even a second driving while blinded by the glare.
- Roadway obstacles: A busy roadway is no place for a sofa. But, with scores of people completing summer moves, you might just encounter one. Keep an eye out for roadway obstacles and plan as far ahead as possible on how to safely maneuver around them. Thunderstorms and tropical storms can further clutter the roads with debris, tree limbs, or even downed power lines.
- Heatstroke: Finally, don’t forget the dangers of summer parking. Children and pets left in parked cars are vulnerable to injury or even death from heatstroke. At an outside air temperature of 60 degrees, a car’s interior temperature can reach 110 degrees, which is a lethal level for children, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Rolling down car windows does not provide sufficient cooling, so don’t be tempted to leave children or pets for even a minute. It can be lethal—and in many states illegal—to leave children and pets alone. To help keep your car cool for when you return, park in the shade or place a removable sunshade in the windshield.
Road Trip Safety
A road trip with family and friends can make a memorable summer for both the right and the wrong reasons. Make it the right reasons with some careful planning and driving. There will be plenty of time for fun once you reach the campground, resort, or cabin.
- Inspect your ride: Have a mechanic give your car, bike, or RV a full inspection before you go. Be especially mindful of coolant and oil levels to help protect your engine, and remember that tires often deflate with significant temperature changes, such as during the transition from spring to summer. If you have a bike carrier, car carrier, or trailer attached to your vehicle, be sure everything’s secure before taking off.
- Pack your emergency supplies: We know space is at a premium when packing for a summer road trip, but don’t neglect to include some important necessities in case of emergency. This includes water, food, maps, first aid supplies, a tire pressure gauge and tire change kit, a flashlight, towels, and jumper cables. Be sure to keep your phone charged and gas tank full in case of trouble. And, don’t forget plenty of games, books, snacks, and activities to keep the passengers distracted—and keep them from distracting you.
- Plan your route: Map out how to reach your destination and how much time it will take to get there, and be sure to leave plenty of room for unexpected delays. Minimize those unexpected delays by checking the Department of Transportation websites of the states where you’ll be traveling for planned road work before you go.
- Check your insurance coverage: Is your insurance ready to help out if you injure a pedestrian on your summer drive? What if you crash into a tree or run out of gas? If you’re not sure for what types of scenarios you’re covered, check in with your independent insurance agent before heading out on your trip.
- Take your time: Don’t get frustrated when unexpected delays—or fascinating roadside attractions—put you behind schedule. Keep to the speed limit, and don’t risk shortcuts that aren’t clearly marked. Take plenty of breaks to stretch your legs and rest your eyes while kids run off excess energy, and switch drivers when you’re drowsy.
There’s no better time to be on the road than when the sky’s clear and the sun’s shining. We wish you safe travels and a wonderful summer!
You can lower your risk of drowning by wearing a life jacket — but it can’t be just any life jacket. To truly be effective, a life jacket needs to be the right type and fit correctly.
You probably know you should wear a life jacket when you’re on the water, and you probably know it’s important for kids to wear one, too. (For kids, life jackets typically are required by state law; in states with no law, the U.S. Coast Guard requires anyone under the age of 13 on a moving boat to have one.)
But do you know just how important it is? According to the Coast Guard, drowning causes more than 70% of boating deaths — and more than 80% of victims are found without a life jacket.
Even wearing a life jacket won’t do much good if it doesn’t fit correctly, though. So how do you choose the right one? Here are some tips from experts with the Coast Guard and the U.S. Marine Corps.
First, choose the right type for your activities. Gone are the days when all life jackets were just those bulky orange vests you might remember from your childhood. There are different types for all kinds of activities now — including recreational boating, paddle sports such as kayaking or canoeing, even hunting and fishing. Some life jackets have auto-inflation features, so they can be worn more comfortably but still provide protection if someone falls into the water.
- For recreational boating, vest-type jackets are best, according to the Marines, particularly in calm, inland waters where help isn’t far away.
- If you’re going to be in rough water, or further out from shore, an offshore life jacket is better, because it’s more buoyant. Some models are even designed to help prevent hypothermia.
- For activities on the water, such as waterskiing, kayaking, etc., specially designed life jackets provide additional range of motion.
Then, make sure everyone has a jacket that fits properly. According to the Coast Guard, if a life jacket is too big, it won’t keep your head above the water. And if it’s too small, it might not have the buoyancy required to keep your body afloat. Remember, a life jacket sized for an adult will not work for a child. Here’s how to get the best fit.
- Check the manufacturer’s label for size and weight guidelines.
- Fasten the jacket correctly, then hold your arms straight over your head.
- Ask a friend to pull up on the jacket, holding the tops of the arm openings.
- If there is excess room above the openings, or the jacket rides up over your chin, it’s too big.
- It’s a good idea to try the life jacket in shallow water before taking it out for activities.
Don’t forget about your pets. Even dogs that are strong swimmers can struggle in open water or get fatigued. So if you’ve got a dog coming with you on the water, the American Kennel Club recommends a life jacket for them, too! Available at pet stores and online, options include vests, which make it easier to swim, and jackets, which provide more buoyancy.
Remember, nobody expects to be in an accident on the water — and if you think you’ll have time to just throw a life jacket on when something bad happens, think again. In most cases of boating-related drowning, the Coast Guard says, life jackets were stowed on board but not worn by victims.
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors by getting out on the water. But no matter what activity you choose, make sure you choose safety — find the right life jacket and wear it!