2 months ago ·
by John Koetz ·
UPDATE (April 24, 2020): Many of our carriers are now providing relief to our client’s personal auto insurance premiums.
Discounts on personal auto insurance policies provided by the following carriers:
Cincinnati Insurance – 15% discount for April May – https://www.cinfin.com/covid-19
Grange Insurance – 25% discount for April and May that was in effect at the end of March – https://www.grangeinsurance.com/coronavirus
**New business policies written in the months of April or May will also receive a 25% payback that will be prorated for the time they are in effect during this period. Grange Insurance clarifies how and when you will receive your auto payback:
How: You will receive your payback via check mailed to your billing address.
When: Most checks will be distributed in May. New customers (with April or May starts) will receive checks in June.
DOWNLOAD GRANGE FAQ PDF FILE
Progressive Insurance – 20% discount for April May – https://www.progressive.com/support/covid19/
Safeco Insurance – 15% discount for April May – https://www.safeco.com/covid-19
State Auto Insurance – 5% to 15% of entire premium for 6 months through use of telematics –https://cloud.comm.stateauto.com/COVID19customermessage
Travelers Insurance – 15% discount for April May – https://www.travelers.com/about-travelers/covid-19-coronavirus-update
Westfield Personal Auto – 15% discount for April May – https://www.westfieldinsurance.com/covid-19
The list may change as we believe all carriers will provide discounts to their policyholders based on fewer accident claims since the start of the stay at home rule.
At W.E. Davis Insurance Agency, we are very concerned about the issues surrounding the Coronavirus. Our clients’ and friends’ well-being is our most important concern. We hope you will take the advice of our elected officials and medical leaders who are directing the efforts to control the spread. Below is our interpretation of coverage under a business insurance program.
Commercial Insurance Policies and Loss of Income
Most commercial insurance programs have a Business Income coverage part. This is designed to provide protection in the event of a fire or other physical damage to an insured location and you lose income when customers cannot come in to buy your products or services. Generally, this coverage does not cover situations where your location is not physically damaged. i.e. – quarantines, people not coming for reasons beyond your control. This is a considered a “business risk” that all business owners retain. Economic downturns prompted by governmental actions cannot be foreseen by insurance companies so they can not properly price for that type of loss. Thus, it is excluded along with other types of losses like nuclear, war or military action.
Some attorneys are taking the approach that the virus itself causes property damage. If the courts agree there may still be problems trying to receive a claim check. The issue is how long will it take to fix the damage? Well, for most businesses, they would simply have to wash and disinfect the space. That generally would not take very long and most Business Income policies have a 72 hour waiting period before coverage begins. The property could be cleaned before the waiting period is up.
Also See “Does Business Income Coverage cover losses from Coronavirus?”
Where can I get Loss of Income coverage?
The only type of coverage we are aware of that might provide business income loss due to a virus is in the special event and hospitality industries. Large events / venues and hotels can purchase insurance that covers many kinds of business income loss, including illnesses. However, even these policies may contain exclusions regarding loss of income due to the “fear” of something happening.
What if someone gets the virus and becomes ill?
Health Insurance – The first thing one should do if they believe they’ve been exposed or become ill, is contact their personal physician. Of course, if it seems more serious, our hospitals are gearing up for an influx of patients so go to the ER if you believe your situation is more serious. In terms of insurance, your specific health insurance policy should cover expenses surrounding the virus. You may need to get prior approval for certain procedures, so be sure you make contact with your carrier. Testing should also be included if medically necessary. Again, check with your insurance carrier for specifics.
Workers Compensation – If an employee believes they became ill at work, Workers Compensation could respond. You should turn in a Workers Compensation claim to be sure, but the issue will be where the employee was exposed and if not at work, Workers Compensation would not apply.
General Liability – If a member of the public (like a client) gets ill from the virus and believes they were exposed at your business, they may try to sue you to collect for damages. If this happens, General Liability insurance might respond. However, these policies all contain a Pollution exclusion and the carrier may consider a virus/bacteria as a pollutant. Other policies might be even more specific and name “virus” as an exclusion.
Professional and Errors and Omissions Liability – If you are a professional (Doctor, Nurse, Accountant, Lawyer, Architect, Engineer or even Insurance Agent) you should have this type of coverage to protect your professional activities. Doctors and Nurses need Malpractice coverage for improper treatment or mistakes in care while the other types of professions need coverage for their advice and counsel. If a lawsuit alleges improper advice that led to a financial loss, coverage might respond. However, there are many exclusions and most exclude the release of Pollutants. (See General Liability above)
Directors and Officers Liability – D&O liability protects an organization from lawsuits that allege improper decisions made by the board that cause financial loss. However, most D&O policies exclude Bodily Injury so it is unlikely these policies would respond to suits alleging illness caused by a virus. The allegation is important so it is impossible to have a general statement regarding coverage for D&O claims.
We are happy to review your specific policy with you to go over the coverage you have. If you believe you have a covered claim, the only way to be sure whether your insurance provides or excludes coverage, is to turn in a loss. We are happy to help you through the process. In addition, we attach an article that provides more details about the specific types of coverage under commercial property insurance and how it might respond to a claim made regarding the Coronavirus.
We wish you the very best in these difficult times.
Click here to learn more about COMMERCIAL PROPERTY INSURANCE COVERAGE and CORONAVIRUS.
Disclaimer – The W.E. Davis Insurance Agency, Inc. is an Independent Insurance Agency serving their client’s insurance and risk management needs in Ohio and throughout the mid-west. This article is designed to provide basic information and is not providing legal advice. Please consult your insurance agent and/or attorney in determining whether or not to file an insurance claim.
1 year ago ·
by John Koetz ·
Comments Off on Tips to protect taxpayers from ID theft
Tax return identity theft has reached such epidemic proportions that it tops the list of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen Tax Scams. Here are tips the IRS wants you to know about identity theft so you can avoid becoming the victim.
- Phishing: Taxpayers should be alert to potential fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will never initiate contact with taxpayers via email about a bill or tax refund. Don’t click on one claiming to be from the IRS. Be wary of emails and websites that may be nothing more than scams to steal personal information. (IR-2018-39)
- Phone Scams: Phone calls from criminals impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat to taxpayers. The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent years as con artists threaten taxpayers with police arrest, deportation and license revocation, among other things. (IR-2018-40)
- Identity Theft: Taxpayers should be alert to tactics aimed at stealing their identities, not just during the tax filing season, but all year long. The IRS, working in the Security Summit partnership with the states and the tax industry, has made major improvements in detecting tax return related identity theft during the last two years. But the agency reminds taxpayers that they can help in preventing this crime. The IRS continues to aggressively pursue criminals that file fraudulent tax returns using someone else’s Social Security number. (IR-2018-42)
- Return Preparer Fraud: Be on the lookout for unscrupulous return preparers. The vast majority of tax professionals provide honest, high-quality service. There are some dishonest preparers who operate each filing season to scam clients, perpetuating refund fraud, identity theft and other scams that hurt taxpayers. (IR-2018-45)
- Fake Charities: Groups masquerading as charitable organizations solicit donations from unsuspecting contributors. Be wary of charities with names similar to familiar or nationally-known organizations. Contributors should take a few extra minutes to ensure their hard-earned money goes to legitimate charities. IRS.gov has the tools taxpayers need to check out the status of charitable organizations. (IR-2018-47)
Identity theft is scary and expensive for both individuals and businesses, but there are ways to protect yourself. Refer to the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft or the IRS Identity Theft Protection page on the IRS website, and then ask your independent insurance agent for more information about data compromise and identity theft coverage.
This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article. Neither The Cincinnati Insurance Company nor its affiliates or representatives offer tax or legal advice. Consult with your tax adviser or attorney about your specific situation. Contact your local, independent insurance agent for coverage advice and policy service.
The high cost of living in California’s Bay Area is legendary. And with the construction industry facing a number of challenges — including the need to rebuild after horrific wildfires — that’s set to only rise.
Developers are having trouble getting their projects finished — or even started, reports CBS affiliate KPIX. One construction foreman told the station he’s four to five weeks behind schedule on his site.
A nationwide survey released this week by Autodesk and the Associated General Contractors of America shows the scope of the problem. Some 80 percent of construction companies say they’re having a hard time filling hourly craft positions. Those include bricklayers, installers, pipelayers and carpenters. And more than half of companies are having trouble filling salaried positions, like project managers, engineers and architects.
“This is about money — they want to make a living,” said construction worker Jimmy Ramerez.
Contractors aren’t expecting relief anytime soon. Nearly half of employers in California say it will become even harder to hire over the next 12 months.
On top of the already-tight labor market, the Bay Area is also contending with natural disasters. Last year, wildfires in neighboring counties destroyed more than 5,000 structures. This year’s fires are on record as the largest in California’s history.
In the North Bay, construction workers are being paid top dollar to help repair fire-ravaged communities, which pulls more people away from the Bay Area.
“They’re poaching our guys and offering more money per hour to go and work for them,” the foreman said. “They’re leaving us high and dry.”
Materials costs, driven up partly by tariffs, are also part of the squeeze. Developer Eric Tau said he has seen an increase of 10 percent to 15 percent in costs — about triple the jump he had expected. “It’s something we have never seen in all of our 15 to 20 years in construction development,” he said.
© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.
By Laura Pennington
October 12, 2018
In the wake of California wildfires allegations that State Farm purposefully underinsured homes at the time that the original insurance policy was issued and then again following a disaster loss claim have begun to surface.
The specific disaster that prompted this State Farm class action lawsuit was the wildfires that began in Northern California in the fall of 2017, ultimately leading to a two-week evacuation from the burn areas. Nearly 9,000 structures were destroyed through those fires.
The State Farm insurance class action says that many of these homeowners returned back to their houses to discover that they’d lost everything, but that these same people suffered additional losses in filing an insurance claim when it was discovered that their properties were undervalued.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit against State Farm argue that most of those consumers were not able to rebuild their homes or restore their property and that some people have received a payout amount so limited that they couldn’t pay off their mortgage.
The State Farm class action seeks to hold the insurance carrier responsible for engaging in unfair business practices that harmed consumers.
The plaintiffs allege that the carrier uses policies with replacement caps that could not address the underinsured nature of those policies.
According to the plaintiffs in the State Farm insurance class action lawsuit, the combination of these practices has made it impossible for people who suffered losses due to natural disasters to recover anything close to what they expected or needed.
The State Farm insurance class action also argues on behalf of the plaintiffs that the insurance carrier conspired with a company called Insurance Services Office Inc. and related organizations for the process of conducting underwriting real estate valuations and construction estimates.
The plaintiffs claim that this has led to an illegal monopoly due to the use of a software program that calculates what claimants are owed post-disaster.
The class action lawsuit against State Farm says that none of those estimating companies are licensed as general contractors or real estate professionals and that this collusion has damaged the lives of policyholders.
The State Farm insurance class action lawsuit says that the use of a calculator based on zip codes was used to determine property values and that this calculator produced highly variable results.
The State Farm class action lawsuit says that State Farm also protects themselves from liability following a disaster or a claim due to the use of the software that uses manufactured housing data.
Many of the plaintiffs say that they were never interviewed specifically regarding their dwellings when the insurance carrier put together the policy amounts for their homes using the software program, but that what they were offered under the policy post-disaster came in well below an actual construction estimate.
The plaintiffs are seeking injunctive relief, an order compelling State Farm to provide better training to adjusters and agents, punitive damages, and actual damages.
The plaintiffs are represented by Julia Donoho of Policyholder Pros.
The State Farm Insurance Class Action Lawsuit is Brian and Alison Sheahan, et al. v. State Farm General Insurance Company Inc., et al., Case No. 3:18-cv-06186, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
SANTA ROSA, Calif. – Construction crews have already put up the frame on Cheri Sharp’s new house, but she still questions whether rebuilding was the right choice after California’s most destructive wildfire took her old home in wine country nearly a year ago.
She has had to dip into retirement savings to cover a $300,000 shortfall in her homeowner’s insurance coverage.
“We just kind of thought we were taken care of,” Sharp, 54, said about her insurance policy. “If I had to do it over again, I’d probably change my mind and move.”
The wind-whipped wildfire that tore through Northern California in October 2017, killing 22 people and destroying more than 5,500 structures, left many people in Sharp’s position: underinsured and having to scramble for money to build a new home on their property.
Santa Rosa was the hardest-hit city, with entire neighborhoods burned to ashes. But as of late August, only nine of nearly 2,700 single-family homes lost here had been rebuilt, according to figures from the city’s permitting office. Another 520 or so were under construction.
Many homeowners say they’re locked in negotiations with insurance companies for additional money to cover the cost of building a home at the edge of the San Francisco Bay Area, where a technology boom has sent home prices skyrocketing. That, coupled with competition among neighbors for construction crews and materials, has left many homeowners hundreds of thousands of dollars in the red.
For Santa Rosa native Alex Apons, 34, the insurance shortfall on his home in the tidy Coffey Park neighborhood was $200,000. He and his wife wanted to stay because they had a baby on the way and both have deep family roots in the area. They used every insurance dollar they received to pay off the mortgage of their 4-year-old home that burned. There was nothing left for a down payment on construction.
“We had to drain our bank account,” said Apons, now father to a 5-month-old boy, Etienne. “After everything is built, we’re looking at a monthly payment on that loan that’s $1,000 more than what our mortgage was before.”
Other fire victims are still torn by indecision that has kept them from committing to a rebuild — do they stay and bear the costs or start over elsewhere?
“The idea of leaving California is very hard, but on the other hand, I don’t know if I can recover from all the trauma of it without removing myself from all the stimuli,” said Katherine Gaynor, 67, also a former Coffey Park resident.
Besides the Santa Rosa blaze, several other major wildfires the same month took out thousands of homes elsewhere in Sonoma County and in neighboring Napa County. As of April, nearly two-thirds of those fire victims wanted to rebuild, but most had yet to settle insurance claims for their property and belongings, according to a survey by United Policyholders, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that helps people understand their insurance policies. Two-thirds of respondents reported being underinsured by an average of $317,000.
Insurance industry experts warn that many Californians whose homes have been destroyed in this year’s wildfires also will discover their policies won’t cover the cost of a new home, leading to similar rebuilding delays. So far in 2018, wildfires have scorched about 1,000 square miles in parts of Shasta, Trinity, Mendocino, Lake, Colusa and Glenn. More than 1,200 homes have been destroyed, and nine people have died.
Insurance companies value homes using factors including their size, purchase price and the price of homes around them. Few homeowners update their policies annually to keep up with inflation, labor and material costs and home upgrades that increase the home’s value. Insurance companies want to keep premiums low to compete with rivals and attract customers.
When Apons’ wife, Heather, called their insurance company this month to request a new homeowners’ insurance quote, the agent provided a figure that would pay them $340,000 less than the current price tag to reconstruct their house. The agent said better coverage would raise their premium considerably, she recalled.
“I’m like, ‘I don’t care. I don’t ever want to be underinsured again,'” she said.
After massive fires across Southern California over the past decade, the state Department of Insurance found that insurance companies often understated replacement costs to potential customers and omitted or misrepresented fees for permitting, architects, labor and zoning, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said.
A false sense of security is common among the insured because most rely on insurance companies for details, said Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders, an advocacy group for insurance consumers.
“If anything, people suspect they’re over-insured,” she said.
Bach said out-of-town insurance adjusters often fail to properly value homes in the San Francisco area. In Sonoma County, property values increase about 10 percent every year, according to Pacific Union Real Estate, a leading real estate group in the region.
Jim Whittle, chief counsel for trade group the American Insurance Association, said it’s up to consumers to make sure they have enough insurance. After mass catastrophes, “there’s almost always going to be situations where people don’t have quite what they wanted or expected,” Whittle said.
Sharp and her husband, Paul, held hands on a recent morning as they surveyed construction of their new home on the Santa Rosa property where they raised their kids, held backyard parties and enjoyed the sunset. They know their use of retirement savings to fund the project will make it harder to live comfortably and travel as they age.
Said Cheri Sharp: “Our life from here on out is very different going into our retirement years.”
© 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
2 years ago ·
by John Koetz ·
It’s almost that time of year when children look forward to trick-or-treating, dressing up in costumes, decorating and obtaining more candy than they can possibly eat. As fun as it is, Halloween is also a deceptively dangerous night, and preparations for a safe and enjoyable celebration should begin long before Halloween night.
SELECTING A COSTUME
Select a costume that doesn’t risk slips, trips or falls. Costumes should not drag on the ground.
Wear comfortable shoes for walking. As tempting as it may be to wear shoes themed with the costume – high heels for Cinderella come to mind – they can be unsafe for youngsters to navigate.
Choose a bright costume that motorists can see.
2 years ago ·
by John Koetz ·
By John W. Koetz, CIC, CPCU
The new craze is rental scooters. Have you seen them yet? There are two companies, Bird and Lime, with scooters sitting on the sidewalks of larger cities and wait till you also see the crazy way some people drive them. So what happens if you rent a scooter and run into a pedestrian while driving it? Or even worse, you cause an accident by riding in the street forcing a car to swerve to avoid you and they hit a pedestrian.
Where will you find liability coverage when you get sued for $1,000,000
for causing someone’s injuries while driving a rental scooter?
Your car insurance will not cover you! – Most personal auto policies exclude “Any motorized vehicle having fewer than four wheels, except for a motorcycle …”
Your homeowner insurance will not cover you! – Most homeowner policies exclude “motor vehicles” which are defined as self-propelled land vehicles, arising out of the use of the motor vehicle rented to an insured. However, they cover “’Motor vehicles’ designed for recreational use off public roads …” The rental folks state you must drive the scooters on the street so most companies would exclude this.
Your personal umbrella insurance may not cover you! – Every personal umbrella policy can be a little different so be sure to check with your carrier. But in general, umbrellas follow the home and auto policies they are meant to provide excess coverage for. Many do “drop down” and provide primary coverage for certain situations. However, the ones we have reviewed exclude coverage for “Recreational motor vehicles” (this includes scooters) unless they are specifically listed on the umbrella policy.
LIME and BIRD will not cover you! – So you say, “I’m sure these big companies will protect me if something goes wrong.” WRONG! Both Lime and Bird Rental Agreements (yes they have a detailed rental contract you agree to when you sign up online) have waivers that say they are NOT responsible for ANYTHING that happens while you are driving their scooters.
To make matters worse, they also make you responsible for any claims made against them including paying for their attorney fees! (see end of article for language)
So what should you do when you’re tired of walking or just curious and want to rent a scooter?
Call UBER or Lyft! At least these companies provide some liability protection. OR think twice about what could happen and DON’T RENT THE SCOOTER! Yes they are fun, but so is enjoying the money in your bank accounts that will stay there because you didn’t take a 10 minute joy ride that cost you your life savings. Sorry to be a party pooper… More to come on scooters.
(John Koetz is an independent insurance agent with the W.E. Davis Insurance Agency located in Columbus, Ohio and lives in the Short North, a popular tourist destination in downtown Columbus.)
2 years ago ·
by Matt Adams ·
Comments Off on Winter Safety Tips
Protect Your Property
Prepare your home
Preventing and thawing frozen pipes
Prepare your vehicle
”Know Your Plan” app
Insurance company claims contact information
How to settle auto and home insurance claims
Winter Driving Tips
Ice & snow, take it slow
AAA winter driving tips
Health and safety tips
Preparedness for school-age children
What to do during power outages
Carbon monoxide information and safety
Portable generator safety
Winter pet care
Learn the Lingo
Snow emergency classifications
2 years ago ·
by Matt Adams ·
Comments Off on Home Safety Checklist
The “Safe Home” Checklist
How many of these common safety hazards can be found around your house? The National Safety Council provides the following tips. They recommend house cleaning as an excellent time to conduct a home safety check. Some safety hazards to look for in your home…
- Provide good lighting at the stove, sink and countertop work areas, especially where food is chopped.
- Use a step stool or utility ladder for reaching high shelves and cupboards; not chairs or other unsafe makeshifts.
- Have a special rack or tray for storing sharp knives.
- Keep all household cleaners, disinfectants and insecticides out of children’s reach.
- Spills should be wiped up as soon as they happen or as soon as you notice them.
- Use self-polishing or non-skid wax on floors. If regular wax is used, be sure to buff it thoroughly.
- Place non-skid mats, abrasive strips or textured surfaces in tubs and showers to prevent slipping on slick surfaces.
- Medicines should be clearly labeled and placed where children cannot reach them.
- Dispose of outdated medicine. Many chemicals change with age and the medicine may become harmful.
- Put night lights in bathrooms.
- Keep breakable bottles of shampoo, oils, lotions and creams where they will not be knocked over and shattered.
Basement or Utility Room
- Tag all gas and water lines for easy identification during an emergency.
- Label all fuses and circuit breakers to show which outlets and fixtures they protect.
- Washers and dryers should be electrically grounded. Be careful: damp or wet floors can lead to electrical shock.
- Use non-combustible pads or metal ironing boards.
- Keep all cleaning fluids, drain openers, bleaches, ammonia and similar items locked up and out of children’s reach.
- Keep passageways clear. Basements are notorious for becoming cluttered.
- Position light switches in accessible areas. Accidents can happen when people stumble through the dark.
Fire & Electrical
- Avoid “octopus” electrical cords. Have an electrician install more electrical outlets if needed.
- All appliances should have UL (Underwriters Laboratory) or AGA (American Gas Association) labels.
- Cover electrical outlets 9 you have toddlers.
- Test smoke detectors monthly and replace batteries annually.
- Inspect fire extinguishers and recharge them if necessary.
- Practice the family’s fire escape route.
- All fireplaces should have a fireproof screen in front.
Inspecting your home and creating a hazard free environment will reduce the chances of having an accident and give you peace of mind. Take time to ensure the health and safety of your family and your home.
This information is provided by The W.E. Davis Insurance Agency and The Ohio Casualty Group of Insurance Companies to help make your home the safest it can be.