Erie Insurance Accolades Speak To Company's Strength

For the sixth consecutive year, Erie Insurance received the highest ranking in the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study for "Customer Satisfaction with the Auto Insurance Purchase Experience." The study measures auto insurance shopping purchase behavior and purchase experience satisfaction among customers who recently bought insurance, and Erie received the highest numerical score: 877 out of 1,000. 

This is huge for Erie because J.D. Power surveys real customers and no other carrier ranks higher.

Also on the trophy shelf, Erie earned A.M. Best's rating of A+ (Superior). While Erie Family Life Insurance earned A.M. Best's rating of A (Excellent). These accolades speak to Erie's financial strength. Customers can be sure Erie is financially sound and will be there for its customers.

For more information on Erie's awards and rankings, visit its website: erieinsurance.com/awards

Clearsurance Ranks Erie Among Top 10 Best Insurance Companies In 2018 For Home And Auto

Clearsurance, an independent community where insurance customers share their individual feedback on auto, homeowner’s and renter’s insurance, has recently ranked Erie among the top 10 best insurance companies in 2018 for both home and auto.

Erie ranked 5th out of 10 among auto insurers, and 2nd out of 10 among the home insurers included.

Check out the full articles here: https://clearsurance.com/best-car-insurance-2018https://clearsurance.com/best-home-insurance-2018.

And here are the results as displayed on Clearsurance:

Source: https://clearsurance.com/best-car-insuranc...

How To Prevent (And Fix) Frozen Pipes

By: William Forbes

Erie Insurance published a helpful article on its blog, ErieSense, on how to prevent your pipes from freezing this winter, and what to do if it happens.

I am re-posting the tips below. But, I wanted to highlight one of the most important things the article mentions. If your pipes do freeze, call a plumber to help you thaw them safely and avoid further damage to your home.

It may seem intuitive, but it's worth reminding folks they do not have to handle this situation on their own - call a professional to help you winterize your pipes, or thaw them, if you've run into that problem.

Here are Erie's steps for preventing frozen pipes:

  • Drain water from pipes that are likely to freeze. This includes your swimming pool and sprinkler water supply lines. 
  • Disconnect any hoses from the outside of your home, drain the hoses and store them in the garage. Make sure to close the indoor valves supplying these outdoor access points.
  • Insulate the area around vents and light fixtures. This helps prevent heat from escaping into the attic.
  • Seal any wall cracks. Be sure to pay careful attention to the areas around utility service lines.
  • Open kitchen cabinets. This allows the warm air to circulate around the pipes. 
  • Keep the garage doors closed to protect water lines.
  • Allow your faucets to drip cold water on the coldest days. The movement will make it harder for the water to freeze. 
  • Keep your thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Never let it fall below 55 degrees Fahrenheit when you leave your home.
  • Ensure you have proper seals on all doors and windows. 
  • Place a 60-watt bulb in areas where you’re concerned about pipes freezing. Make sure there are no combustible materials near the bulb.
  • Take swift action if the pipes located inside an exterior wall are freezing. Cut a hole in the wall toward the inside of the house to expose those pipes to warmer air.

Check out Erie's full blog post for signs that your pipes are frozen and tips for thawing them yourself: https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/frozen-water-pipe-prevention.

The Benefits Of Having An Insurance Agent

While purchasing insurance online can be convenient, there are true benefits to working with an agent, in-person for your insurance needs. Agents are required to have industry licenses and complete continuing education; meaning that when you need guidance and advice, they are equipped to give it. Their industry knowledge can help with everything from choosing the appropriate coverages, to navigating the claims process.

Technology is great, but sometimes having a real person to guide you is better.

Zombies Have Bad Days Too

Check out Erie's latest blockbuster...and it's perfect for the season. Have a wonderful Fall and a Happy Halloween from all of us here at Forbes Insurance.

With all the buzz around the new season of AMC's The Walking Dead, what if a literal zombie apocalypse happened tomorrow? While it's highly unlikely that zombies will really take over, it's good to know that insurance is there to protect you when things go wrong, like a telephone pole falling on your house or your TV getting fried by an electrical surge.

Could Oversharing On Social Media Cost You Your Insurance In The Future?

By: William Forbes

This article from Consumer Reports interviews representatives from the National Insurance Crime Bureau and the Insurance Information Institute on this subject and uncovers some interesting info.

The idea here is that by sharing photos of your family away from home on vacation, or posting about new and expensive purchases, you could be opening yourself up to theft. So, by sharing these types of posts, you could be violating your insurance policy's "reasonable care" clause, "which stipulates that policyholders do everything they can to make their home burglar-resistant and secure from risk," says the article.

Please don't be alarmed. We've never heard of an insurance company denying a home claim because of social media; and the experts in the article don't say that they know of a claim being denied either. But, they do posit, in the future, insurers may review people's social media activity in certain instances.

Beyond the issue of insurance claims, however, I think this article makes a good point about not oversharing on social media in order to protect your safety, home, and belongings. It's smart, especially in today's internet-connected society, to protect yourself by not letting the world know where you are and what you are doing at any given moment.

The article suggests waiting until you return home to post vacation photos, and to be careful of how much personal information you are giving away in comments. For example, try not to disclose where you are vacationing, how long you're there, your hotel details, etc.

check out the full article for more information: https://www.consumerreports.org/social-media/is-social-media-putting-your-home-at-risk/

Making Your Home Playground Safe

By: Nicole Vattimo

ErieSense posted an article that's especially relevant in these summer months, when the kiddies are out of school. The post addresses home playgrounds and how to keep them safe for use. The post advises homeowners to do these six things:

  1. Measure out a distinct play space.
  2. Make sure the playset is installed properly.
  3. Install a shock-absorbing surface beneath the playground (i.e. mulch, wood chips or shredded rubber).
  4. Check the hardware for sharp, exposed edges, and to be sure it's not rusted.
  5. Be sure there are no fall hazards by installing guardrails on ramps or platforms.
  6. Perform regular monthly maintenance on the playset.

For more information on these tips, check out Erie's blog post: https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/home-playground-safety.

For questions about your homeowners insurance, always contact your agent.

What Is My Policy Declarations Page?

By: Nicole Vattimo

If you are asking: What is my policy declarations page and what can I find there? This post is for you!

The declarations page of your policy is where you will find much of the pertinent information about the insurance policy. It provides information about the insured (that's you), the policy, and the insurance company.

Usually at the top of the page, your name and address is listed, along with your policy number, the dates of the policy period, and your agent's name and contact info.

Moving down the page, you will see a description of the vehicle(s) or property being covered.

An auto declarations page provides the make and model, VIN, and usage info (i.e. pleasure, work commute, etc) for all vehicles on the policy. You will also see a listing of the drivers included on the policy. Along with this info, your auto coverages, the cost of those coverages, and any deductibles will be given for each vehicle.

On a property declarations page, you will see a description of the property, the estimated replacement cost of the dwelling, and the amount of insurance provided for the dwelling, other structures, and personal property. The declarations page will also provide the amount of liability coverage provided, and any deductibles that apply to the policy.

In addition to information about the vehicle(s) or property being insured, the declarations page will list your total policy premium, and will usually list any discounts and/or endorsements you may have.

Because of all the information it provides, the declarations page is typically where you will look to answer questions about your coverages or the costs of those coverages. However, always contact your insurance agent for detailed information about your policy, or to help you with any questions you may have.

What To Do With Your Home Insurance If You Plan to Rent Out Your House

By: William Forbes

We've seen an increase in the number of our clients who have decided to rent their houses out, rather than sell them. If you plan to do this, it's important to adjust your home insurance policy to be sure you are properly protected.

First, you will want a renters policy, which will protect your home's structure and the small amount of personal property (furniture, decor, etc.) you may have inside the home. You'll also receive liability coverage, in the event that someone is injured on the property.

But, almost more importantly, carrying a renters policy as a landlord will provide protection if there is a home claim that prevents your renter from living on the property for a time. In this case, your renters policy would provide up to 12 months of fair rental value. This means during the time the house is out of commission, you will not lose the rental income that typically comes from your renter.

Once you become a landlord, it is also important to talk to your renter about carrying his/her own renters policy. This protects a renter's personal property, and provides important liability coverage to your tenant. It might also be beneficial to be listed as an additional insured on your tenant's policy, which provides you an important line of sight to his/her policy and coverages.

Give us a call if you have questions about renters or tenant policies.

A Low Credit Score Could Mean Higher Home Insurance Costs

By: Nicole Vattimo

Earlier in the month, HuffPost published an interesting article (link here) on how our credit scores impact our homeowners insurance premiums. The article dissects a study completed by Quadrant Information Services. It's probably not surprising that the study found there is a direct correlation between a poor credit score and a higher homeowners insurance cost. What surprised me, however, was just how much higher your insurance premium could be if you have a lower credit score, when compared with someone who has a high score.

According to the article, "The study found that if you have a fair (i.e. median) credit score, you may pay 36 percent more for home insurance than someone with excellent credit. That’s up from a 32 percent increase in 2015 and 29 percent in 2014."

So, not only are you paying more for home insurance if you have an average credit score, but exactly how much more is increasing over the years.

"What’s more, if you have poor rather than excellent credit, your premium more than doubles, increasing by an average of 114 percent (up from 100 percent in 2015 and 91 percent in 2014)," says the article.

What percentage more you will pay if you have less-than-stellar credit varies state-by-state, with some states weighing a credit-based insurance score more heavily than others. The article lists the states that place the most importance on credit score, and explains what goes into calculating your credit-based insurance score.

The article also discusses why insurance companies use credit-based insurance scores. In short, credit scores are predictive of loss behavior. Meaning people with lower scores tend to have more insurance losses.

Interestingly, there are three states, California, Maryland and Massachusetts, that ban the use of credit in setting home insurance prices.

The article discusses the arguments against using credit score in insurance. The top arguments against this practice: (1) it is unfair to consumers in lower socio-economic demographics, and (2) "there’s no uniformity or standardization to how this data is used" since different insurers weigh credit scores differently. Meaning some may consider them heavily, while others don't.

Since we are all consumers of insurance, in some way or another, I think it's a very worthwhile read to better understand what may impact your premium, and what is happening in the insurance industry at large.

Full link to HuffPost article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/why-poor-credit-can-triple-your-homeowners-insurance_us_590b4c30e4b046ea176ae88b

Collection of Classic Cars Lost in Fire

By: William Forbes

In this heartbreaking article on msn.com (link here) , a fire destroyed a Canadian man's uninsured $3 million car collection. The cars were kept in a barn, which caught fire and was completely demolished. The man said he lost 45 years worth of work, more than 40 classic vehicles, and 40 collectible tractors.

This loss goes beyond the monetary value of the collection. It's obvious this man invested so much time and energy into his collection. To lose it is a hit on many levels, I imagine.

If you have collectibles, whether they are cars or other items, such as jewelry, firearms, art, trains, etc., you should talk to your insurance agent about scheduling coverage for them. Most homeowners policies give you a designated amount towards some of these items, but, usually, it's not enough to replace an established collection. When you schedule coverage, you can value the collection and receive coverage commensurate with that amount. The other benefit of scheduling coverage for collectibles, if there is a loss, you are not subject to your homeowner's deductible.

Certainly, in the event of a claim, a check from your insurance company can not replace the emotional loss. But, it can help you with the financial burden.

5 Times You Must Contact Your Insurance Agent

By: William Forbes

I'd like to use today's blog to remind my clients, and anyone who has insurance, that there are a handful of times when it's absolutely necessary you pick up the phone and contact your agent. If you have made any of the changes listed below, or have been involved in a claim, it's so important to get the details to your agent. Regarding the situations below, if you don't inform your agent, you may not be covered by your insurance policy.

I can't stress enough how important it is to tell your agent about:

  1. A Change of Address - Without the proper address on file, your insurance company may be sending critical communication to the wrong location. Even if you do not receive these communications, you are still responsible for the information detailed inside. Additionally, if you have homeowners or renters insurance, you want to be sure your policy is set up to protect the correct property. Finally, counties and cities have different insurance ratings, meaning if you move and don't inform your agent, you could be missing out on savings. It's your responsibility to inform your agent of a change of address.

  2. Additional or Replacement Vehicles - When you replace one vehicle on your policy with a new one, or if you plan to add another vehicle, it is crucial that you inform your agent. Generally, in Pennsylvania, it is your responsibility to inform your agent of an additional vehicle within 14 days. While you get a bit longer to report a replacement vehicle. I tell my insureds to report either as soon as possible, to avoid issues with coverage.

    One thing to note here - many people think when they purchase a new vehicle the dealer will contact their insurance company. This does happen in some cases; but, it is the insured's responsibility alone to report new and replacement vehicles to insurance. Don't rely on your car dealer to add a vehicle to your policy.

  3. Adding or Excluding Drivers - If you have someone who is regularly driving your car, or if there is someone prohibited from driving it (called an exclusion), you need to inform your insurance agent. In the event of an accident, without the proper drivers listed on the policy, coverage may be denied.

  4. Structural Changes to a House - Putting an addition on your home? Installing a pool? Any structural changes to your home need to be detailed in your insurance policy. These changes can affect the value of your home, and can mean it's time for new or additional insurance coverage to protect your family.

  5. A Claim - If you've had a home or auto claim, involve your agent. Your agent is your insurance advisor and can help you through the process. Including your agent is about more than just getting your claim reported. An agent can guide you through the claims process, and can act as your advocate with the insurance company.

Your Homeowners Insurance Can Protect You From Identity Theft

By: William Forbes

It's unfortunate that more and more of us either know someone who has been the target of identity theft, or have experienced it firsthand. It seems every time I watch the news there is another warning about a new scam to steal your personal information, gain access to your money, or even hijack your house using Internet-connected devices. It's become such a problem, that insurance companies are taking notice, and most have realized that insureds need protection.

Erie Insurance has an endorsement that can be added to a homeowners policy called Identity Recovery, which can help customers gain protection. Identity Recover works to restore your credit history, and provides up to $25,000 worth of coverage for both fraud and expense reimbursement.

This means fraudulent charges to credit cards or bank accounts; the cost to refile applications for loans or other credit instruments; certain legal fees; and even miscellaneous expenses associated with recovering your identity can be covered by this endorsement.

Additionally, through this endorsement, Erie has case management specialists that can assist you in restoring your identity by: contacting credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on the credit file; ordering copies of credit reports to review recent activity; and even closing suspect accounts that may have been tampered with or fraudulently opened.

Honestly, it's a really nice piece of coverage, and I feel it's worth your while to talk to your agent about it. Today, so many of our personal details, accounts, and devices can be accessed via the Internet. It's important to protect yourself from identity theft.

Seattle Times Article on Insurance Blind Spots

By: William Forbes

I wanted to share this article in The Seattle Times, titled, "Insurance blind spots: 5 coverage gaps that could cost you" (link here). It highlights several important insurance coverages that aren't necessarily provided in a traditional homeowners policy. Pay special attention to #3; my last blog post hit on this item with the discussion of Erie's product: Service Line Coverage.

If you have any questions about what your homeowners policy covers, please reach out to your agent.

Full link to article: http://www.seattletimes.com/business/insurance-blind-spots-5-coverage-gaps-that-could-cost-you/  

Product Spotlight: Erie's Service Line Coverage

By: William Forbes

What is it?

Service Line Coverage is a new product available to ErieSecure Home customers when they add the select or plus bundles to their policy. It provides coverage for damaged exterior utility lines or pipes. These can include cable, internet, or electrical lines; or, gas, septic, or sewer lines. Erie's Service Line Coverage protects clients from the financial responsibility of paying to repair or replace utility lines on their property.

Benefits:

Home insurance policies don't typically provide coverage for service lines from the curb until they enter the structure of the home. Instead of paying for multiple service contracts through utility companies, or having no protection at all, Erie's Service Line Coverage protects customers through their homeowners policy.

Additionally, Erie's coverage is better than protection purchased through typical utility contracts, with higher limits of coverage, fewer limits on what is covered and no waiting period.

Please get in touch with us if you have questions about Erie's Service Line Coverage.

Insurance Concept of the Week: Subrogation

Each week we will post and define an industry term or concept for our readers.

Subrogation is the transfer of your rights to the insurance company to sue or seek recovery from a third party. For example, if you get into an auto accident and your car is damaged, your insurance company will take care of repairing your vehicle. Then, on your behalf, your insurer will collect from the at-fault party to cover the cost of the repairs, and even get your deductible back in some cases.