The top 5 reasons to promptly report a claim

Your insurance policy is merely a promise until you have a claim, but many people hesitate to report a claim to their insurer. Here are five reasons why you should promptly report a claim if you have an incident.

      Coverage is contingent on prompt reporting. Your policy defines specified conditions and requirements for coverage, and one of them is usually your duty to report a loss just as soon as practical after the loss occurs.
      Early investigation is vital in determining liability and damages. Obtaining key evidence, scope of damages and interviewing all parties while information is clear assures your claim is accurately assessed and given every consideration.
      Prompt reporting is vital when subrogation is needed to pursue a claim against the responsible party. Subrogation enables an insurance company, after paying a loss to its insured, to recover the amount of the loss from another who is legally liable for it. Prompt claim reporting makes it easier to determine facts, obtain expert reports and collect evidence early on, leading to a higher likelihood that the not-at-fault policyholder can recover the deductible. It also helps keep claim costs – and therefore insurance costs – low.
      By reporting your claim early, immediate remediation can prevent further damage. This ultimately lowers claim costs and helps keep premiums low.
      The insurance company has an opportunity on claims involving injury or damage to people other than the policyholder (third parties) to negotiate an early economical settlement. Late reporting could allow key evidence to be lost or destroyed, leading to a not-so-positive outcome for all parties involved. (The Ohio Insurance Institute’s glossary defines third-party coverage and first-party coverage.)

Let the insurance professionals do the work for you. You are paying a premium and deserve to have a complete policy review, inspection and investigation to determine if you have coverage.

When in doubt, ask your agent or insurance company for advice on whether to submit a claim. Always report it promptly (even as a “record only”) so you adhere to your policy conditions and duties.

Quiz: How well do you know the rules of the road?

When the rules of the road change, it’s up to drivers to keep up. Take our quiz to see how well you’ve kept up.
(Answers at the end)

  1. How many U.S. states have enacted “move over” laws? “Move over” laws require drivers to change lanes away from public safety vehicles on roadsides to protect public safety personnel. If it is unsafe to change lanes, the driver must slow down to a safe speed.
    1. 10
    2. 48
    3. 50
    4. This is for real?
  2. What is the speed limit on U.S. interstate highways?
    1. 55 mph
    2. 70 mph
    3. You can drive 5 mph above the posted limit without being pulled over
    4. Speed limits vary by state, time of day and whether the highway is rural or urban
  3. When must a child passenger be restrained in an approved safety seat?
    1. Until age 3
    2. All 50 states require safety seats for children until they meet specific age, height or weight criteria, which vary from state to state
    3. Until age 5
    4. At all times, except when traveling in Grandpa’s car
  4. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have special provisions for mature drivers. These include (choose one answer):
    1. Accelerated renewal frequency, vision test, road test, restriction of online or mailed renewals or reduced or waived renewal fees
    2. Seniors are not permitted to make left turns, only right turns for safety
    3. Note required from physician before renewal
    4. Note required from adult children before renewal
  5. Financial responsibility laws require:
    1. A bond to be posted before a driver’s license is issued
    2. A licensed driver to affirm that a designated minimum amount of insurance coverage (varies by state) is in place to pay for damages for which they are legally liable in the event of an auto accident
    3. Mom and Dad to pay for any accidents Junior might cause
    4. Bank verification that sufficient funds exist to pay any claims after a crash


  1. c. All 50 states have enacted “Move Over” laws. See Get the Facts: Move Over. It’s the Law.
  2. d. Speed limits vary. Check the Speed Limit Laws chart at the Governors Highway Safety Association website for details.
  3. b. All states have child safety seat laws, but requirements vary. See the Child Passenger Safety Laws chart at the Governors Highway Safety Association website for details, and find consumer tips for selecting an age-appropriate safety seat at Parents Central.
  4. a. Check the Mature Driver Laws chart at the Governors Highway Safety Association website for your state’s laws.
  5. b., but you may get partial credit for a., depending on your state. Every state has a financial responsibility law that requires a driver to affirm that insurance is in place when a license is issued. Some states allow a bond to be posted instead of proof of insurance. Check with your state’s department of motor vehicles for requirements in your state.

Homeowners Coverage Changes

Homeowners claims have been an issue with most of our carriers due to the increase in the severity and frequency of storms over the past several years.
Some companies have implemented several measures to offset the high cost of claims from these storms. One of these measures is to amend coverage the
companies offer. Some of these changes are important to be aware of:
Roof claims are being settled on ACV vs RC basis: If your roof is 15 years old or older and a loss occurs, you will be paid based on actual cash value vs the cost to replace your roof. The insurance company will take into consideration the age and condition of the roof and depreciate the cost to actually replace it.
Reduction in Water Back-Up Coverage: Most of our companies automatically provide some coverage for losses that are caused by or result from water that  backs up through sewers or drains. The limit that they offer may have been reduced on your renewal policy. There are limitations to most coverages on your Homeowners Policy and needs sometimes change. It is important that you review your Homeowners policy to make sure you have adequate coverage. Some companies are offering new roof discounts or the actual cash value endorsement on the roofs can be removed if you have
recently put on a new roof. The water back up coverage limit can be increased and most insured’s with a finished basement should be aware
of this limit and more than likely will require additional coverage. Please note that these types of changes can only be made upon the renewal of your policy. Please contact our office if you have any questions regarding your policy or would like to make changes in your current coverage.

Be alert for skimmers and scammers!

Before you swipe your bank card or credit card to make a payment or complete a bank transaction, be alert for skimmer devices attached inside or over the real card reader. Criminals use skimmers to capture the information from the magnetic strip on credit or debit cards, gaining unauthorized access to consumer accounts.


Skimmers have become increasingly prevalent as they are easy to put in place. The skimmer device fits right over or inside the real card reader. When the card is swiped, it passes through the skimmer before going into the real reader. Skimmers have popped up at bank drive-through ATMs, gas stations and other businesses, especially in remote locations or places that are difficult to monitor.

There are a few things you can do to make sure your account information stays safe.

Look before you swipe

Look for signs of tampering or bulkiness of the card reader you are about to use. If it looks too thick, damaged, loose or just does not look right, report it to the bank or business and use a different machine. Consumers have even reported parts of skimmers coming off the ATM. The FBI offers additional tips and illustrations of what to look for.  If you see someone tampering with or hanging around an ATM machine, report this information as soon as possible to law enforcement or the bank or related business hosting the machine. Sometimes criminals hang around machines to collect information via a Bluetooth connection or wait for an opportunity to add a skimmer or make changes to a machine.

Protect your chipped card

Many newer credit cards have radio frequency identification (RFID) chips. The chips use a wireless, electromagnetic field to transmit information across short distances. Criminals use small remote skimmers that can be concealed in a pocket to collect information from the RFID chip. With these skimmers, the card need not be physically swiped to compromise the information. The electronic pickpocket need only walk a few feet away from you to collect information from the chip.

To prevent information theft, use a card carrier with a lined casing to shield the signal from the card. The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation put out a Consumer Alert describing additional measures you can take, such as stacking several RFID-equipped cards together.

What to do if you’re hacked

If you do fall victim to a skimmer or RFID scam, immediately report it to law enforcement, providing as many details as possible. Contact the security department of your bank or the retailer whose card was compromised. Close the account and put a fraud alert on your credit file. Find additional information to protect your accounts on our identity theft prevention site and from the Federal Trade Commission.

Smart parents monitor smartphone, tablet gifts

Planning to get your kids a smartphone or tablet this holiday season? With schools using technology in classes and kids being exposed to these devices at an early age, the question is often a matter of when, not if. Parents may have questions and concerns about how to keep kids safe online. Here are some tips and resources that can help.


The first thing you can do to help protect your children online is to set ground rules:

  • Outline how much time during the day they can spend on the device
  • Establish who your children can call
  • Discuss how to behave respectfully online

For a fee, many cell phone providers offer parental controls and location services to help you manage usage times and limit who your child can place calls to and receive calls from.

You may also want to consider having your child sign a cell phone contract with you.


With devices come apps, and many social networking apps involve setting up a profile and sharing information around common interests or activities. These apps can be fun and addicting, but if you aren’t familiar with them yourself, they can be intimidating. Check out the sites and services your child uses.

Discuss what is and is not appropriate to post, so that your child doesn’t share more information online than you are comfortable with. The following tips from the National Crime Prevention Council can help your child think before he or she posts:

  • Should I share this? Will the information I share put me or someone else in danger?
  • Do people really need to know where I am and who I am with? Is it a good idea to let everyone know my exact location?
  • Am I selecting online friends that I can trust? It’s not just about what I post, but how others may use that content.
  • Is the information I am sharing transparent? Before I share information to the public, does my post give out too much personal information?

Cyber bullying involves threats or harassment that happens online. This can be words or pictures that are posted with the intention of hurting someone’s reputation or feelings. The OnGuardOnline website sponsored by the Federal Trade Commission gives tips to recognize and prevent cyber bullying and provides additional resources for parents. The Cyberbullying Research Center also provides guidelines for parents.