Are You at Risk for Identity Theft and is There Insurance to Cover That?

ID theft is a form of fraud that has been around for as long as there have been dishonest people. It is a high-profile problem because technology has created many more opportunities for this crime. Credit cards, funds transfer cards; ATMs, debit cards, smart cards, wireless payments, slipshod business practices and the Internet have all combined to make identity theft a major problem for individuals and businesses.

ID theft describes any dishonest and unauthorized use of private information. In the past, the term rightfully described forgery or passing oneself off as another person to trick someone out of money and/or property. Today, it refers to an unauthorized party who secures goods, services, or other financial benefits by the fraudulent use of another person’s confidential information.

The favorite piece of information is a social security number. This information has routinely been used for gaining access to other private information such as driver’s history, credit information, bank accounts, loan information, credit cards, occupational history, military records, mortgage information, and investment accounts and so on. Having this critical bit of information can allow a criminal to use another party’s accounts, secure loans, and charge a host of goods or services; the list is only limited by the criminal’s resources and imagination

A complication of ID Theft is that it is a by-product of modern commercial life. Lenders, retailers, supermarkets, gas stations, airlines, travel clubs and everyone else have elevated cashless payments into the premiere way to do business, either live or electronically. This “ease” comes at great cost. As naïve as it sounds, business still operates on the assumption that everyone is honest. Few businesses have adequate safeguards to protect the information they collect on customers. Many businesses commonly mail out or electronically transit communications and solicitations that include private account information. It is common for electronic transactions to be transmitted through wireless networks and thieves are now able to intercept such data. Further, since businesses are often embarrassed that information has been stolen or compromised by hackers, many businesses keep such invasions secret or substantially delay reporting incidents to authorities and to their customers.

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In light of business practices and attitudes, it’s basically up to the individual consumer to guard against ID theft. Though, in recent years, business best practices and government regulations are ramping up security activities. See the following for tips on guarding against it.

Unfortunately, even as instances of ID theft grow, insurance is not a particularly important anti-ID theft tool. The type of loss is not something that an auto, home or similar insurance policy may be adequately adapted to handle. While homeowner policies do typically protect against credit card loss, coverage is usually just for the amount that falls below the minimum liability imposed by federal law (currently $50 per card). The serious harm suffered by ID theft victims are the costs associated with clearing up the aftermath, such as correcting one’s credit history and straightening out various accounts and records. This effort routinely takes months and hundreds to thousands of dollars in legal fees.

More insurers offer coverage for ID theft. Typically, the coverage reimburses legal fees or paying costs related to dealing with third parties to correct records. The most effective protection is for individuals to prevent becoming ID theft victims. Following are some suggestions:

  • Keep your account information and Social Security Number (SSN) safe. One idea: keep home records in a locked file.
  • Keep details about your various account numbers in a safe place so you can rapidly take care of stolen or lost cards.
  • Be very careful with on-line transactions. Is the Website you use secure?
  • Find out the privacy guidelines and safeguards of the businesses and parties you deal with.
  • Make sure that you verify that websites for online transactions are legitimate
  • Use password protection on smart phones and never leave such devices unattended
  • Challenge those who request an SSN. Why is that information needed? Can some other information be used as an alternative?
  • Think about buying and using a paper shredder. Many information thieves steal mail by going through garbage.
  • Write companies who send unsolicited charge cards and request removal from their mail list.
  • Check bank and business records thoroughly for irregularities. Track down the reason for any unusual transactions or entries.
  • Ask stores that use credit cards if they transmit the information with a wireless network. If yes, ask what safeguards they use to prevent airwave theft.
  • If you ever have a charge card transaction involving an imprinter that uses a carbon set for copies, ask for the carbon or watch the clerk destroy the carbon before it’s thrown away.
  • Collect mail from mailboxes quickly and don’t put outgoing mail in your own mailbox. These practices give thieves fewer opportunities to fish for checks and private information.

Remember that these are just a few suggestions. Taking steps to minimize the chance of ID theft is a lot of work. That is a major reason that ID theft will continue to be a problem to individuals and businesses. Call Smart Insurance to discuss your risks and options for coverage.

Farm and Ranch Coverage is Unique

Farms and ranches here in central Kansas differ from other business operations since, at least with small to medium operations, the owner both conducts his business and lives with his entire family on the same premises. Therefore, a farm or ranch has a combination of commercial and personal loss exposures that must be properly insured.

One coverage method might be to use commercial policies to handle the business needs and personal (auto, home, recreational vehicle, etc.) policies to tackle the personal needs. However, such a combination of policies would be awkward and expensive. Further, the method would allow a large number of coverage gaps and overlaps. A much better approach would be to use a product that satisfies all potential coverage needs in a single policy.

Farm and ranch

The differences among various farm and ranch operations certainly complicate the task of finding proper coverage. Successful farmers and ranchers tend to be specialists, yet are flexible in order to run efficient operations. Fortunately, farms and ranches have a number of elements that are common to all operations, so products have been developed for this challenging market.

One standard farm program uses a cafeteria approach to offer coverage. The owner of a farm or ranch operation may choose to have only Farm Property and Farm Inland Marine Forms to address the property coverages, but use the Commercial General Liability Forms for the liability coverage exposures. They may choose to use the Farm Umbrella or a Commercial Umbrella with a Farm Endorsement. A Homeowners policy may be used on the dwelling but a Farm property coverage form on everything else.

Options are an important feature of a good farm program. The following, basic coverages are widely available:

  • The Farm Property Policy – covers farm-related buildings (residence, barns, sheds, silos, etc.)
  • The Farm Inland Marine Policy – covers farm-related machinery and equipment
  • The Farm Liability Policy – protects against damage or injury caused by farming/ranching activities
  • The Farm Umbrella Policy – provides a higher level of liability protection
  • The Farm Combination Policy- offers a way to bundle stand-alone farm/ranch coverages into a single package

Call Smart Insurance today and we can assist you with developing an effective farm and ranch insurance plan.

If you enjoy summer on the lake, make sure you have boat owners coverage.

Boaters insuranceThe insurance approach for covering boats and boating property is quite similar to what is used to protect cars and homes. Essentially insurance is offered on a package basis, meaning that there is coverage for physical property as well as protection against the legal and financial consequences of injuring others or damaging property that belongs to others.

Property Coverage – Typically a boatowners policy covers:

  • Boats – Refers to property designed to travel on water and includes sails, its permanent equipment, spars and fittings.
  • Boating Equipment – Includes a wide variety of property that is used in conjunction with boats and it includes accessories. Items considered as equipment are property used for communication (radios), navigation, sonar, radar, outboard motors, dinghies, skis and sports equipment (recreational flotation devices) that are towed by boats and similar property. As a rule of thumb, the more related an item is to the ownership and use of a boat, the greater the justification to classify it as boating equipment.
  • Boat Trailers – Trailers used (and designed) for transporting boats (as defined by the policy).

This property must be owned by the person who is named as the policyholder. There are limited instances when such property that is temporarily in the policyholder’s possession also qualifies for coverage.

Items and situations that aren’t covered include boating property that is used in business activity, losses that involve races or competitions (an exception is made for sailboats) and boats that are used, full-time, as residences.

Liability Coverage – Besides protecting boating property, a boatowners policy also responds to claims or lawsuits caused when another person is injured, and /or when another person’s property is damaged or destroyed. An example would be a collision where the owner of a large speedboat collides with a person on a jet ski, seriously injuring the rider and demolishing the jet ski. The policy would handle both portions of such a loss. The liability portion would also provide a legal defense against lawsuits.

Another important coverage under the liability section is medical payments. This provides reimbursement for, typically, emergency or immediate medical treatment expense. Consider a person who slips on a boat deck and needs transportation to an emergency for treatment of a broken bone or concussion. Such costs would qualify under medical payments.

As is the case with property coverage, there are liability situations that are NOT covered by a boatowners policy, including losses that involve business activity, transmission of communicable disease, unauthorized operation of boating property, intentional acts, and criminal activity.

Boating property is a substantial investment and boatowners coverage is an efficient, affordable way to guard against accidental losses. Call Kyle, Doug or Brad at Smart Insurance in Abilene today to talk through your boat coverage needs.

Do You Have the Correct Coverage for Your Business Automobiles?

Many businesses are exposed to the financial consequences of their ownership, use or maintenance of vehicles used in their operations. Most coverage needs can be handled by a business auto policy (BAP) or similar form which cover operations such as:

  • Product or food delivery
  • Transporting business products to wholesalers or retailers
  • Retail product delivery to consumers
  • Carrying persons for short, intermediate or long distance routes
  • Picking up customer items for cleaning, repair, storage, etc.

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Coverage is flexible. It may be purchased as a separate policy or as part of a package of coverage that can also protect buildings and business property (equipment, furniture, etc.). A BAP generally offers:

Liability Coverage–protection for physical injury to other persons or their property because of an accident related to your covered vehicle, including legal defense cost or expense.

Comprehensive Coverage–handles loss from any cause except collision. A limited, less expensive option is available. It only protects against a set of specific causes such as fire, lightening, explosion, vandalism and several others

Collision–takes care of damage from crashes with another object or overturn of the vehicle

Towing And Labor Costs–handles expenses for moving disabled vehicles

Loss of Use/Rental Vehicle Coverage–if you damage a rental car, this option helps to reimburse the rental company for income it loses because the vehicle is out of use. Also, there may be limited coverage for injury or damage that you cause to others while using a rented vehicle anywhere in the world.

Typically, a business auto (or similar form) bars coverage for the following:

  • any injury/damage that you expected or intended
  • responsibility for damage you assume under a contract
  • losses that should be handled by a Workers Compensation, Disability Benefits or Unemployment Compensation Law
  • Bodily Injury to an employee caused by a Fellow Employee
  • Damage to property that is in your Care, Custody and Control
  • Any bodily injury or property damage that occurs because of Pollution
  • Any loss that is related to racing, demolition or stunts

Are you protected against business auto losses? Drive over and discuss your situation with the folks at Smart Insurance today. The trip will be worth it.

Insurance Perils- Part 3

This is part three of a three-part discussion on different causes of loss. Call us today at Smart Insurance to make sure you have the best service and best coverage in Central Kansas.

Vandalism and Malicious Mischief–Vandalism and malicious mischief are generally cited as a single peril meaning willful or malicious physical injury to or destruction of property. “Vandalism” means willful destruction or defacement of things of beauty. It implies general hostility to nice things and satisfaction from their destruction.

“Malicious mischief” implies damage to property motivated by hatred or spite. It is not associated with beautiful things, but rather with utilitarian things such as machinery and business buildings and their contents. Acts leading to this kind of destruction are premeditated and include those arising from resentment and ill will during labor disputes.

Accidental damage is not covered under the “vandalism” peril. Coverage applies only when the damage is intentional. The vandalism and malicious mischief peril does not include loss to property on the “residence premises” if the dwelling has been vacant for more than a number of consecutive days immediately before the loss (the period may vary by policy). A dwelling being constructed is not considered vacant. Furthermore, the vandalism or malicious mischief peril does not include loss by pilferage, theft, burglary or larceny.

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Damage by Burglars–Damage caused by burglars refers to the damage caused during a break-in and not to the actual stolen property. For example, if two burly burglars attempted to remove a grand piano from the insured residence, the actual damage to the walls, floors and doorways caused by the piano being moved would be covered. The actual loss of the piano would not. Typically there is no coverage for loss to property in a building that has been vacant for more than (a specified number) of days immediately before the loss.

Falling Objects–This peril covers damage to the exterior of the insured premises and its contents if the falling object first damages the roof or exterior wall. Damage caused by any falling object is covered, including falling trees; however, damage to the falling object itself is not covered. This peril does not include loss to outdoor radio and television antennas and aerials including their lead-in wiring, masts and towers, outdoor equipment, awnings and fences.

Weight of Ice, Snow or Sleet–Damage to the insured building and/or contents due to the weight of ice, snow or sleet is covered. This coverage excludes loss to certain property, such as: awnings; fences; patios; swimming pools; foundations; retaining walls; bulkheads; piers; wharves; or docks.

Accidental Discharge–Damage to insured property caused by accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from within a plumbing, heating, air-conditioning or automatic fire protective sprinkler system or household appliance is covered. Coverage includes the cost of tearing out and replacing any part of the building on the residence premises necessary to repair the system or appliance from which the water or steam escaped.

Damage caused by continuous or repeated seepage or leakage to the insured property is not covered; the cause must be sudden and unforeseen. Damage caused by freezing is not covered under this peril. Further, this type of loss is not covered if the dwelling has been vacant for more than (a specified number of) days immediately before the loss. A dwelling being constructed is not considered vacant.

Sudden and Accidental Tearing Apart–Sudden and accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning or bulging of steam or hot water heating systems, air conditioning systems or fire protective sprinkler systems or appliances for heating water is covered. The emphasis on this peril is that damage caused by the steam, hot water and related systems must be sudden and accidental as opposed to gradual and foreseen.

Freezing–Loss caused by the freezing of a plumbing, heating, air-conditioning or automatic fire protective sprinkler system or of a household appliance is covered. This peril does not include loss on the residence premises while the dwelling is vacant, unoccupied or being constructed unless the insured has taken reasonable care to maintain heat in the building or shut off the water supply and drain the system and appliance of water.

Electrical Damage–This peril involves damage to insured property as a result of sudden and accidental artificially generated electrical current. Tubes, transistors and similar electrical components are not covered.

Check with Doug, Kyle or Brad at Smart Insurance to see what perils are covered in your policies. Make sure to use the best agency around Central KansasLogo and get the best service and best coverage from Smart Insurance. Give us a call today at 785-263-1920.

Insurance Perils- Part 2

This is part two of a three-part discussion on different causes of loss.

Hail–Hail damage is just that: damage caused by the direct action of hail to insured property. As with windstorm, the hail or some other covered peril must cause damage to the outside of the insured dwelling allowing hail to enter the premises in order for interior hail damage to be covered. As a result, if a window were left open, allowing hail to enter a building, that damage would not be covered.hail

Similarly, the hail peril does not cover loss to awnings, signs, radio or television antennas or aerials including wiring, masts or towers; canoes and rowboats; lawns, plants, shrubs or trees when located outside of the insured building.

Riot or Civil Commotion–Riot usually refers to a gathering of three or more people that results in the use of force or violence against individuals or property. Damage caused to the insured property due to riot is covered under this peril. Coverage includes direct loss caused by striking employees whether a riot occurs or not. Civil commotion can be defined as an uprising or disturbance by a large number of people. As with riot, damage caused to the insured property due to such an uprising would be covered under this peril.

Bouvier’s Law Dictionary summarizes five necessary elements of a riot: At least three persons must be involved; there must be a common purpose; there must be actual inception or execution of that purpose; there must be an attempt to help one another or to cooperate by force if necessary; there must be display of force or violence in such manner as to alarm a person of reasonable courage.

There may be no valid distinction between riot and civil commotion. “Civil commotion” has been described in courtrooms as “an uprising among a mass of people which occasions a serious and prolonged disturbance and an infraction of civil order, not attaining the status of war or armed insurrection. It requires the wild or irregular action of many persons assembled together.

Aircraft–The aircraft peril provides coverage from damage caused by aircraft, including self-propelled missiles and spacecraft. In a recent development, this cause of loss would also apply to unmanned air vehicles (drones).

Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language defines “aircraft” as “any machine or machines for flying, whether heavier or lighter than air; airplane, dirigible, balloon, helicopter, etc.”

This peril would apply to damage caused by the falling of an aircraft or any of its parts, on a covered dwelling and its contents.

Vehicles–Damage caused by direct physical damage with “vehicles” is covered by the vehicles peril. Damage caused by objects thrown by vehicles (such as stones, etc.) is covered as well. The vehicles peril does not include loss to a fence, driveway or walk caused by a vehicle owned or operated by the insured or a resident of the described location.

Smoke–Refers to “sudden and accidental damage from smoke.” Any sudden and accidental damage from smoke caused from any source except smoke from agricultural smudging or industrial operations would be covered. The terminology used makes clear that the damage must occur over a short period of time. A prime source of claims is furnace malfunction that results in the backup and blowing of smoke and grit into rooms through a central heating system.

Agricultural smudging would include damage from burn-off of growing materials on or near the covered premises and use of smudge pots to protect growing crops and trees from frost. Damage from smoke associated with businesses would include that caused by the “blowing out” of smokestacks in the course of periodic cleaning. Excluded damage would also include damage caused by smoke from malfunctioning industrial heating and processing equipment.

Volcanic Eruption–Damage caused to insured property by the eruption of a volcano is covered under the Dwelling Policy Program; however, loss caused by earthquake, land shock waves or tremors is excluded.

This peril is designed to address the damage caused by the eruption of a volcano, including the ensuing lava flow and airborne particles. In most policies, one or more volcanic eruptions that occur within a 72-hour period are considered to be a single covered event.

 

Insurance Perils- Part 1

If you have ever read the insurance policy for your home or rental property, you probably ran head-first into the terms “hazard,” “peril,” or “cause of loss.” These are events that are covered by your insurance. This three-part article explains these terms.

Fire–Fire has been defined by the courts as “combustion sufficient enough to produce a spark, flame or glow.” By definition, a fire is not smoke or charring. A fire must produce a spark, flame or glow. And not all fires are covered under the fire peril. Over the years, the courts have distinguished between “friendly” and “hostile” fire. A friendly fire is one that burns where it was intended to burn: a flame on a gas stove; a fire in a fireplace; fire in an outdoor grill.

A hostile fire is one that burns where it was not intended to burn: the kitchen drapes; the rug by the fireplace; a tree near the outdoor grill. Only direct damage caused by hostile fire (including smoke from a hostile fire) is covered by the fire peril.

Lightning–Lightning is “naturally generated electricity from the atmosphere.” Damage covered by the lightning peril may be the result of lightning itself or the result of a fire caused by the lightning.

With regard to lightning, there is rarely a coverage problem for direct strikes. The other common cause of lightning loss is the surge of electricity, typically caused by lightning striking power company equipment. Appliances in a house can be damaged by the electrical surge. The cause must be established for coverage to apply. A surge from malfunction of power company equipment, or a short circuit, would not qualify.

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Explosion–In basic or stripped-down policies, explosion refers to any explosion that occurs within a structure that is covered by a given policy. However, several types of explosive events are usually excluded such as:

  • bursting of water pipes
  • electrical arcing
  • explosions of steam boilers or pipes owned, leased or operated by the insured
  • rupture or bursting of pressure relief devices

In more comprehensive polices, explosion also applies to events that originate externally.

Windstorm–The peril of windstorm involves damage caused by direct action of the wind, including high winds, cyclones, tornadoes and hurricanes. Windstorm coverage primarily covers wind damage to a building’s exterior, but will also cover interior damage if the wind breaches the exterior (causes a hole or opening in a wall or roof).

Winds must reach sufficient velocity to have caused direct damage at more than one location to establish a “windstorm” loss. However, leakage through an aging roof during heavy rain is not a basis for a windstorm claim. The windstorm peril does not cover loss to the following property when located outside of the insured building: awnings, signs, radio or television antennas or aerials including wiring, masts or towers; canoes and rowboats; lawns, plants, shrubs or trees.

If you have specific questions about your policy, contact Kyle or Doug at Smart Insurance at 785-263-1920.

Smart Insurance Included in IIABA’s Best Practices Study

Smart Insurance is part of an elite group of independent insurance agencies around the United States participating in the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) “Best Practices” Study Group.

Each year since 1993, IIABA and Reagan Consulting, an Atlanta-based management consulting firm, join forces to study the country’s leading agencies in six revenue categories. The agencies comprising the study groups are selected every third year through a comprehensive nomination and qualifying process and awarded a “Best Practices Agency” designation. The selected “Best Practices” agencies retain their status during the three-year cycle by submitting extensive financial and operational data for review each year.

“Smart Insurance is both honored and excited to be named ‘Best Practices Agency’ for 2016” said Doug Smart, President and CEO of Smart Insurance. Doug quote

More than 1,800 independent agencies throughout the U.S. were nominated to take part in the annual study, but only 254 agencies qualified for the honor. To be chosen, the agency had to be among the top-performing agencies in one of six revenue categories.

The agency was nominated by either an IIABA affiliated state association or an insurance company and qualified based on its operational excellence.

The Best Practices Study was initiated by IIABA in 1993 as the foundation for efforts to improve agency performance. The annual survey and study of leading independent insurance agencies documents the business practices of the highest performing agencies and urges others to adopt similar practices.

The Smart Insurance agency was founded in 1931 and can offer insurance products from a number of different companies including Alliance, Allstate, Buckeye, Continental Western, EMC, First Comp, Kansas Mutual, Liberty Mutual, Marysville, QBE/NAU, Progressive, Safeco, United Fire, and Upland.

 

10 Questions Parents Have About Insuring Teen Drivers

When your teen is about to get a driver’s license, you need to start thinking about young driver insurance. Whether your teen will drive a family car or a car of their own, you still need car insurance. And like most parents, you probably have a lot of questions.

We have tried to briefly answer some of the most common questions parents have about car insurance for young or new drivers.

  1. Why is car insurance for teens so expensive?

Maybe you actually have asked this question—a lot. But do you know the real answer? Simply put, teen drivers are the riskiest age group to insure.

963,000 drivers aged 16 to 19 were involved in police-reported motor vehicle crashes in 2013, resulting in 383,000 injuries and 2,865 deaths (AAA).

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15- to 20-year-olds (National Center for Health Statistics).

Most experts agree that immaturity and lack of driving experience are the two main factors that cause teen drivers to have such a high crash rate. Because they are new drivers, teens often fail to recognize hazardous situations and don’t respond appropriately. In addition, teens are more likely to engage in risky activities such as speeding and tailgating.

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  1. What Makes Teenagers More Prone to Accidents?

Teens as a group are risky drivers. In addition to immaturity and an inability to appropriately recognize risky situations, they face numerous risk factors that impact their likelihood of getting into accidents.

  • Low risk perception: How many times have you said, “My teenager thinks she is invincible”? Unfortunately, this statement is often true, even when teens are behind the wheel of a car. Young drivers underestimate the risks they face and overestimate their ability to respond.
  • Risk taking: Invincibility, again. Teen drivers are more likely to engage in risky driving behaviors like speeding, tailgating, running red lights, violating traffic rules, making illegal turns, passing dangerously, and failing to yield.
  • Skill deficiencies: Young drivers are new drivers. They haven’t yet mastered the skills they need to stay safe.
  • Alcohol and drug use: Unfortunately, substance abuse is a leading cause of serious crashes among teen drivers. And teens with alcohol or drugs in their system are even more prone to crashes than older drivers who may have consumed similar substances.
  • Distraction: Teens are easily distracted by many things, including having their friends in the car while they drive. In fact, the fatality risk of 16- and 17-year-old drivers is three times higher when they are driving with passengers than when they are driving alone.
  • Night Driving: Night driving takes practice, and teen drivers are less experienced night drivers than their adult counterparts. In addition, teens are more likely to be tired and even under the influence of drugs or alcohol at night.
  1. When are teens added to a car insurance policy—when they get a learner’s permit, or when they get a driver’s license?

Requirements for adding teen drivers to your insurance policy vary among states and insurance companies, especially during the time a teen has their learner’s permit. Some insurance companies base their rules strictly on whether or not the teen has a license, while others base their requirements on the age of the teen. Smart Insurance can help you determine when you need to report your teen driver to the insurance company.

  1. If my teen has a driver’s license but does not drive, will my insurance rates still increase?

The short answer is yes. Insurance companies have no way of knowing if your teen is or isn’t actually driving. Also as mentioned before teens are risky and unpredictable. They could jump behind the wheel of a friend’s car without your knowledge and in this case they would still need protection.

If you’re trying to keep premiums down while your teen is licensed and certain they never drive, you could have them surrender their license to the DMV. The DMV will likely provide written documentation of that surrender which can be given to your insurance company as proof. Some companies may lower your rates in this case, but they are not obligated to do so.

  1. Should I put my teen driver on their own car insurance policy to save money?

Adding a teen driver to your car insurance policy can potentially raise your rates significantly (anywhere from 20% to 180% depending on your state), but it is always best to add your teen to your family policy rather than purchase a separate policy. In one example cited by Consumer Reports, adding a 16-year-old driver to a married couple’s family policy resulted in a 250% increase in premiums. If that teen is insured separately, the rates could be even higher.

If you purchase a separate policy for your teen driver, you might be tempted to purchase insufficient coverage limits or exclude them from your other policies. This is never a good idea in a family where any driver could operate any of your vehicles at any time.

  1. Will we have coverage if my teen has an accident but is not on my insurance?

There might be coverage if an uninsured teen driver is involved in an accident, the majority of policies in the U.S. cover all members of the household without you having to report them as drivers. However, some policies may restrict coverage for family members to those that were reported to the company when the policy was put in place. If for some reason your teen was specifically excluded from your auto insurance policy, you will not have coverage for the accident.

  1. When, if ever, do teen auto insurance rates begin to go down?

Typically, teen driver insurance rates tend to drop after the driver experiences three years with a clean driving record. Depending on your state, rates may drop by 50% after three accident- and ticket-free years, with another drop after six years with a clean driving record. After age 25, car insurance rates should go down again (if the driving record remains clean).

  1. How can I save money on my teen driver insurance premiums?

Be sure to call Smart Insurance for quotes and possible discounts on insurance for your teen, as rates vary. Insurance companies offer a variety of discounts that apply to teen drivers. These include:

  • Good student discount
  • Defensive driving discount
  • Low-mileage discount
  • Safety features discount
  • Multi-policy discount
  • Driver monitoring discount
  1. How much will my car insurance premiums go up if my teen has an accident or gets a speeding ticket?

If your teen driver cannot keep a clean driving record and is instead involved in a crash or receives a speeding ticket, expect your rates to increase significantly—perhaps as much a 20% to 40%. And insurance companies are not simply punishing you; teen drivers represent a significant portion of the costs related to motor vehicle injuries in the U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, young people aged 15 to 24 represent only 14% of the U.S. population, but they account for 30% ($19 billion) of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries among males and 28% ($7 billion) of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries among females.

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  1. Does the type of car that teens drive affect premium costs?

Yes, and while teen rates are always going to be high, the car you choose will help you save some money. Your teen may fantasize about a fast sports car or a powerful SUV, but the best cars for teens are mid-sized sedans. From an insurance perspective, small cars are considered less safe, while sports cars encourage speeding. Large trucks or SUVs are more prone to rollover crashes. The best idea might be to provide your teen with a somewhat older vehicle that will cost less if it is involved in an accident, and that doesn’t come with any of the inherent safety concerns of other types of vehicles.

How to Find the Right Insurance for New Drivers

Finding good car insurance for teens and keeping rates under control is far from simple. Get your teen started on the right foot by making sure they take a high-quality drivers education course and have plenty of behind-the-wheel experience before you allow them to head out on the road.

In order to find high-quality coverage that addresses your family’s specific needs, you should work closely with Smart Insurance, a Trusted Choice insurance agent, who has experience working with families and teen drivers. We can obtain quotes from multiple, reputable insurance companies so you can find the best combination of cost and coverage for your needs. We will help you get all of the auto insurance discounts that your teen is eligible for.

 

(Information provided by TrustedChoice.com)

Make Sure the Ooohs and Aaahs Over July 4th Fireworks Don’t Turn Into Ouch

The July 4th holiday is coming up and many are already planning on how to celebrate Independence Day. Many of those celebrations will involve fireworks. Make sure those celebrations aren’t ruined by injuries or burns due to those fireworks.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, eight people died and approximately 11,400 were injured badly enough to seek medical treatment because of fireworks incidents in 2013. Fireworks are also responsible for thousands of home fires each year.

The Safety Commission’s study also said 36% of injuries occur to hands and fingers and 19% are eye injuries. More than 50% of injuries reported are burns.

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(Graphic courtesy of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.)

How can you keep your family safe, while still being able to enjoy the festivities? The following are some tips to keep you in the celebratory mood, and out of the emergency room.

  • Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
  • Know your fireworks; read the labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
  • Never allow young children to play with fireworks.
  • Always have adult supervision when using fireworks.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.
  • Never re-light or pick up a firework that has not ignited fully or one that did not go off.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby.
  • Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from buildings and vehicles. Also be aware of shooting off fireworks during times of high fire danger. Never light fireworks near a field that may catch on fire.
  • Dispose of fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any buildings or combustible materials.
  • Always make sure all bystanders are a safe distance away from the display.

Sparklers are very popular and are usually seen as “harmless” and are often given to children to handle. They are more dangerous than most people realize. Parents need to be aware that most sparklers burn at 2,000 degrees. Sparklers can ignite clothing and can cause very severe burns very quickly of not handled properly.

It’s very important to know your local laws regarding fireworks. Most counties and cities have permits to be able to legally shoot fireworks off and are limited to a certain number of days surrounding the holiday. Fireworks are illegal in other municipalities. Below are links for the Dickinson County area regarding permits and fireworks information along with contact information for Abilene, Chapman, Solomon and Salina.

Dickinson County- http://ks-dickinsonco.civicplus.com/index.aspx?NID=521

Abilene- http://abilenecityhall.com/index.aspx?NID=16

Chapman- http://chapmanks.com/city-government/city-departments/

Solomon- http://solomonks.citycode.net/index.html#!articleFireworks

Salina- http://www.salina-ks.gov/fireworks

The July 4th holiday can be a very festive and fun time for the whole family. But be sure to review the safety tips before lighting up the sky with fireworks. You want to avoid any injuries, fires and especially fatalities. Be a SMART insurance customer and enjoy your holiday safely!!!

Sincerely,

The Smart Insurance Staff