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/

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.

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.

5 Things to Consider Before Reporting a Claim

By: William Forbes

Reporting a claim is not always as simple as calling your insurance company and receiving compensation. Claims, whether they are small or large, affect your insurance policy. Below are five things I recommend my insureds consider before reporting a claim. I point these items out because it’s important that customers understand when and why they should report a claim. Educating yourself about the claims process means being a savvier insurance consumer. 

1.       Report the claim immediately to your insurance agent or company.

The official guidelines for reporting a claim differ from company to company, so it’s important to check in with your agent or insurer to understand how quickly you need to report a claim. However, as a good rule, it’s important, whichever company you are with, to report claims as soon as they happen. This leaves less chance that details will be forgotten, and reduces the chance that there will be any questions about the claim’s authenticity from your insurance company.

2.       Is the claim cost larger than your deductible?

If the claim is not larger than your policy deductible, there is really no reason to report it. In this case, you are financially responsible for the cost of the repair, and there is no benefit to involving the insurance company. You don’t want a reported claim on your policy when you aren’t receiving any financial assistance from your insurance company.

3.       Can you handle the claim financially?

Simply put, insurance policies aren’t home- or car-maintenance accounts. Insurance is for catastrophic losses. Or, in other words, losses that create a significant financial hardship. Though insurance will pay for minor claims, you may end up hurting yourself in the long run, as multiple claims will drive up the policy premium.  This means you pay more for your insurance plan each year. Additionally, multiple claims increases the likelihood that your insurance company could cut your policy altogether.

4.       Often claims raise the annual premium of your policy.

Though many companies today have accident or claim forgiveness, which means your rate won’t increase for your first claim, it is important to understand how claims generally affect your overall policy premium.  The number of claims reported, along with the severity of each, can adversely affect the total price you pay for insurance.

5.       Claims stay on your policy record for a specified period of time.

Auto claims typically stay on your record for three years. Home claims stay on your record for five years. Having claims on your policy record can affect you when you shop for insurance. They often make it harder to receive the best possible rate, and certain companies will not accept new insureds with multiple claims.  

There is much to consider when deciding whether to report a claim. The best advice I can give is to talk to your agent about each claim. Agents are there to provide you with guidance and education, as well as help you through the claims process. Knowing all the facts can help you make a smart financial decision. 

 

Insurance Concept of the Week: Merit Rates

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

To continue our discussion on rates, a merit rate considers the characteristics of a particular risk, and depending on those characteristics a premium can be increased or decreased. Merit rates take into consideration a person's loss history, as well as steps he/she has taken to prevent loss, such as installing a smoke detector in a home.

Check out our previous posts on: (1) what is a rate (link here), and (2) manual/class rates (link here).

Insurance Concept of the Week: Manual or Class Rates

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

Continued from last week's discussion on rates (link here), manual or class rates group insureds into classes based on similar characteristics. These classes receive the same rate. Manual rates are often used as the starting point for developing merit rates, which we will look at next week.

Don't Ignore Insurance in your Financial Planning

By: William Forbes

October is National Financial Planning Month – a time to be sure your family finances are organized and you have a plan in place to meet your financial goals. Although it is probably not the first thing that comes to mind, insurance is an important part of your financial plan. The very reason for insurance is to transfer your risk of financial liability to an insurer. To put it more plainly, insurance protects you and your family from a financial loss due to the loss of life or property.

Just as you might sit down with a financial advisor annually, or outline your family budget and savings, you should evaluate your insurance policy each year as part of your financial planning (Click to Tweet!). Below are some items to bear in mind when it comes to considering whether your insurance policy is still an accurate reflection of your needs.

1.       Have you moved or made any significant changes to your home?

Beyond just meeting the minimum requirement of notifying your insurance agent of a change of address, it’s important to discuss with your agent what a new home could mean for your overall financial picture. Are you taking a step up in terms of the mortgage and/or size of the home? Are you the primary earner for your household? Are the coverage amounts still appropriate for the new home, or for your current home after a structural change has been made? In looking at your finances, are the deductibles still appropriate?

The answers to these questions can dictate important financial decisions for you and your family. They also help to bring into focus your full financial picture, and can lead to other important financial decisions. Take, for example, the first two questions: (1) Are you taking a step up in terms of the mortgage? (2) Are you the primary earner for your household? If you’ve answered yes to both of these, then it may be important for you to look at your life-insurance coverages, in addition to your homeowner’s policy.

It’s not just about reporting new purchases and changes in your living arrangements to your agent to be sure they are covered (though that's certainly part of it); it’s also critical to understand what these changes mean to you and your family’s overall financial health.

2.       Have you had a major life event – marriage, a new child, health changes?

If you’ve recently had a major life event, it’s probably a good time to see if you have the right insurance policies in place for those who depend on you (Click to Tweet!). There are many different life-insurance products on the market, which address a variety of financial needs and time horizons.

Maybe just as important as life insurance, is disability insurance. While most Americans depend on company-sponsored disability programs for issues that keep someone from working, often these programs do not sufficiently cover income loss. Particularly in a one-income family, replacing the breadwinner’s earnings is crucial to the family’s financial well being.

Your agent can walk you through the different products out there and which would be most affordable and beneficial for your family.

3.       Are you planning any large purchases in the coming year – a car, boat, art?

This question is similar in nature to item number one. First, it’s important to discuss these types of purchases to be sure you have the correct insurance products and coverages in place. But, it’s also important to understand how large purchases affect your entire financial picture. As your lifestyle changes, it’s essential to have the proper insurance in place to protect you and your family, and to be sure your loved ones can maintain the lifestyle in the unfortunate event that something happens to you.

4.       Have you had any business changes?

Are you changing your job or company? Are you planning to be self-employed? Are you nearing retirement? These types of business-related changes not only affect your finances, but also affect the types of insurance you should carry. Whether you are getting insurance through a company, or are purchasing a policy individually, you should understand the policy’s coverages and limits. There are so many things to consider in terms of insurance, when it comes to a change of employment. I couldn’t possibly cover everything here. However, I wanted to include this item as a reminder that if you will be making career changes, set a meeting with your agent to discuss your plans and how to address your insurance needs smartly. (Click to Tweet!)

5.       Do you need to consider long-term health care for yourself or a loved one?

Long-term health care policies pay daily benefits to help offset the cost of nursing and home care for certain illnesses not normally covered by health insurance and Medicare.  It’s hard to think about, but for my insureds over the age of 50 (or those with an elderly relative), I recommend understanding what this type of policy can offer you and your family. A long-term health policy could provide money to help pay for skilled care of a loved one, including: (1) respite care, (2) home care, and (3) adult day care. Keeping up with the costs of nursing care can be financially crippling, but there are insurance products that can help.

6.       Are you planning to travel more?

If you are planning on jet setting, whether you have dependents or not, talk to your agent about what insurance products could be helpful in your travels. From travel health insurance to cover injuries or illness while you are on the road, to rental car coverage, to property insurance to cover your valuables, there are lots of options your agent can offer you. All of these options can impact your finances, should you experience a loss while traveling.