Friday, October 30, 2009

Ready Campaign - Be Prepared

Fire Safety Campaign Kicks Off

The U.S. Fire Administration kicked off it's public safety campaign today by urging everyone to install and maintain smoke alarms.



Smoke alarms installed outside sleeping areas dramatically save lives. Sadly, one local family discovered this first hand. The Newsmirror (http://newsmirror.net/) reported that a family lost their mobile home to a fire that was started by faulty heater. The father was awakened by the smoke alarm and was able to get his family which includes 4 small children to safety.



This illustrates how a simple smoke alarm in working order can be a lifesaver. Most smoke alarms can be purchased for twenty dollars or less. If you test the alarm once a month and replace the batteries once or twice a year, you can go to sleep with peace of mind. Check out http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/smokealarms for more info about the USFA campaign.

Having your heating and AC units checked every one or two years and cleaning and changing the filter twice a year will help them run more efficiently, could help lower your utility bills and help prevent a malfunction.



For any disaster it is always a good idea to have a plan. You should have an emergency kit for your family and a kit in each vehicle you own. In addition to first aid and medications, you should also have plenty of water, spare clothing and good fitting, comfortable tennis shoes or boots. You can go to http://www.ready.gov/america/index.html to get some great information for disaster planning, info about the flu and more. Also, check the Ready Campaign box on this blog for more preparedness info.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pay As You Drive Insurance Regulations Approved!

The Department of Insurance announced earlier this week that the final regulations allowing insurers to offer pay as you drive auto insurance programs have been approved.

What this means to consumers is that in the hopefully not to distant future, you will pay for auto insurance based on how many miles you drive. The less you drive, the less you pay for auto insurance. With more people working closer to where they live or if they telecommute to work via website or modem, this could mean a big savings.

Right now the program seems to only be intended for "good drivers" which meet the California Good Driver provisions. The provisions are:

1. Has been licensed continuously for 3 years.

2. No more than 1 DMV point in the last 3 years.

3. No drug or alcohol related felony convictions in the last 7 years.

4. No at fault accidents involving death or bodily injury in the last 3 years or that resulted in more than $500 in property damage.

Mileage verification can be done one of two ways. First, the estimated mileage is provided by the insured with a current odometer reading and that is used as a base for the first year. When the policy renews a new odometer reading would be done by either the insured, a third party hired by the insurance carrier or your insurance agent. Your policy would then be adjusted based on this reading.

The second method uses verified actual mileage. You allow the insurance carrier to install a device in your vehicle which periodically reports your mileage to the carrier and your policy is adjusted according to these readings.

The insurer can also use odometer readings form smog certifications,DMV or any other government agency that records odometer readings.

A few companies have these programs in place in other states, however they would have to adjust them to comply with California's regulations. It will be interesting to see who the first carrier is to offer this program and what kind of savings it will yield to the consumer. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Do I need Flood Insurance? Wont' my homeowners policy cover it?

With the recent fires and a storm moving in, you might want to take a second look at your homeowners insurance policy.

While all homeowners policies some form of natural disaster, such as earthquakes here in California, you should know that flood coverage is also excluded in all policies, including commercial.

For example, lets say you live in a community where a recent fire happened. You and your neighbors where evacuated during the fire, but you are back home now looking at the charred hillside and counting your blessings. Are you out of danger? There may be nothing left to burn on the hill, so it won't catch fire for a while.

What about rain? The vegetation that held the topsoil and underlying earth may no longer be enough to hold the ground together. Down comes not only the water runoff but mud and rocks.

Your home owners policy will not provide coverage if your home floods. Most commercial policies don't provide flood coverage either. Sure, you could try to explain that it was the fire that caused the problem, but a flood is a flood. The definition of a flood is water, mud and/or debris entering the structure from the outside, filling up inside the structure and then running back out. This definition could also include a water main breaking and the water running into your home or business.

Flood insurance is the best bet to protect your home. You may not be in a flood zone, but you could still have a flood. This is different that a pipe breaking inside your home because the water is coming in from the outside. You can learn more about flood zones and check on how much risk you are in by visiting the national flood program website at http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/flooding_flood_risks/defining_flood_risks.jsp .

If you live near a burn area you might want to consider getting flood insurance to protect your home. If your home floods, the cost of being insured and paying a deductible will be well worth it.