Did you know that the highest rate of deer collisions occurs between October and December? This is the migration and mating season for deer, so they are likely to be moving at a more frequent pace.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are one million car accidents involving deer each year in the United States, resulting in close to 200 deaths and an additional 10,000 injuries. The financial costs are also high, as deer collision damages to vehicles total upward of $1 billion in costs a year. On average, a vehicle collision with a deer will cost an insured more than $3,000 in damages. The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) attributes the increase in deer-vehicle collisions to the fact that more roads are being built through wildlife habitats, which causes deer to be displaced from their natural habitat.
How to avoid becoming a statistic
Stay alert and look for signs: The easiest way to avoid crashes is to stay awake and aware of your surroundings while driving – a best practice in any season. Drivers should also look for signs regarding deer crossing, as studies have found that crash risk can be reduced by up to 34% when signs are posted.
Recognize deer patterns: You’re most likely to see a deer at dawn or at dusk, and if you do see a deer, always slow down. Deer typically travel in groups so if you see a deer crossing alone, you should wait a few minutes – more deer are likely to follow.
Don’t swerve to avoid a deer collision: If a crash with a deer becomes inevitable, it is better to apply the brake hard and fast rather than try to swerve in another direction; this could cause a more serious accident with another vehicle, guardrail or tree. Brake firmly, holding onto the steering wheel, and bring your vehicle to a controlled stop.
If you are involved in a crash, make sure to notify police officials and your insurance agency immediately. It is important to fill out the accident forms completely and accurately.
When you’re preparing your home for an approaching hurricane, you might go over your evacuation plan, put together an emergency kit, tightly seal the doors and windows and haul the deck furniture indoors. But what about getting your financial house in order?
As you’re scrambling to protect your home, yourself and your family, you might overlook the financial impact of a hurricane. The U.S. Congressional Budget Office estimates American households get walloped by $34 billion in annual losses from most types of damage caused by hurricane winds, storm surges and rainfall.
In most cases, none of the financial precautions you take “will really be necessary and the inconvenience will be limited to a few days. But it is always better to plan for the worst and hope for the best,” said Josh Simpson, a financial adviser at Lake Advisory Group in Lady Lake, Florida.
In light of the monetary catastrophes that a hurricane might cause, experts recommend taking these seven pre-storm steps to batten down your financial hatches.
How to prepare financially for a hurricane
1. Establish an emergency fund
Bob Castaneda, director of the master’s degree program in finance at Minneapolis-based Walden University, suggests putting money in a special savings account to take care of basics—like food and lodging—in case you’re not able to return home for a while following a hurricane. This should be done weeks, if not months, in advance of a hurricane.
The emergency fund should contain enough money to pay $60 to $70 a day in expenses for each family member, Castaneda said. At minimum, the fund should cover a week’s worth of expenses for your entire family. For a family of four, that would be roughly $1,700 to $2,000.
“From a financial perspective, an emergency fund serves as the safety net between an unexpected event and a financial crisis,” said Brian Walsh, certified financial planner and leader of the financial planning team at online lender SoFi.
2. Stash some cash
Store a small amount of cash in a secure place in your home, said April Lewis-Parks, director of education and corporate communications at Consolidated Credit, a consumer credit counseling service. This can help you overcome the inability to use your debit or credit cards at ATMs or stores during a power outage.
Financial coach Kasey Ring, president of Upward Personal Finance in Heber City, Utah, said you should stockpile enough cash to pay for at least two to three days of meals, lodging and transportation.
“Have a reasonable amount of cash on hand,” Ring said. “Storing a boatload of cash in your mattress or on your body is not advised. Your money is better protected in a federally insured banking institution.”
3. Set up electronic deposits
If you regularly receive paper checks for government benefits or other purposes, it’s wise to switch to electronic deposits before a hurricane hits to ensure you’ll have money in the bank when you desperately need it.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security notes that a hurricane can disrupt mail service for days or weeks. In addition, a paper check could be stolen from your mailbox while you’re away from home.
Each month, more than 2.7 million paper checks for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income are sent to people living in hurricane-prone states, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
4. Designate a credit card just for emergencies
Marine Federal Credit Union in Jacksonville, North Carolina, says the credit limit of your emergency-only credit card should enable you to buy enough supplies to last at least 10 days. Having a credit card solely for a hurricane or another disaster also can help track expenses that your homeowners insurance policy might reimburse.
You may want to choose an emergency credit card that delivers rewards at places like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and hotels—places you’re likely to spend money in the wake of a hurricane.
5. Get rid of ‘bad’ debt
If you live in hurricane territory, wiping out “bad” debt can put you in a better position to financially weather a storm. Of course, you’ll need to tackle this debt reduction well ahead of a hurricane that’s bearing down on your town.
SoFi’s Walsh explains that there’s “good” debt and “bad” debt. Good debt, such as a student loan or mortgage, helps boost your earning power or net worth and typically comes with low interest rates.
Meanwhile, bad debt includes balances on higher-interest credit cards and loans. This type of borrowing typically doesn’t help you achieve your long-term financial goals.
“Bad debt not only eats up your budget with costly interest payments, but it also limits your flexibility to leverage debt in the event of a financial emergency,” Walsh said.
If it consumes a big chunk of your available credit, bad debt restricts the amount of credit you can tap into after a hurricane, he said. In addition, bad debt may hinder your ability to take out a lower-interest emergency loan, as that debt might bump up your credit utilization ratio and therefore push down your credit score.
6. Collect important documents
Your critical documents should be kept in a weatherproof “grab and go” kit in case you need to evacuate ahead of a hurricane, according to Walden University’s Castaneda. These documents include insurance policies, Social Security cards, driver’s licenses, birth certificates, passports, mortgage paperwork, tax records, wills and recent financial statements.
Experts recommend making copies of these documents as backups and saving them through a password-protected cloud storage service like Google Drive or Dropbox.
“Depending on how bad the storm is, the hard drive on your computer—let alone your hard copies—may not survive,” warned Jim Pendergast, senior vice president of altLINE, a division of Gadsden, Alabama-based The Southern Bank Co.
7. Review your insurance coverage
Pendergast recommends scrutinizing your homeowners insurance policy to fully understand what will and will not be covered in case a hurricane damages your property. Make sure both the structure and your belongings are adequately covered. Check with your insurance company or insurance agent—before a hurricane hits—if you think your coverage isn’t sufficient.
Also important to note is that standard homeowners policies usually don’t cover flood damage; separate flood insurance is normally required. During a hurricane, flooding causes much of the property damage.
In advance of a hurricane, take photos of your household belongings to support any insurance claims you’ll file, Pendergast said. In addition, the Insurance Information Institute advises creating a complete inventory of all your possessions and their values to help speed up the claim process.
John has nearly 30 years of experience in journalism, brand journalism, blogging and public relations. He is editor in chief at Austin, Texas-based startup SpareFoot, which helps people find and book self-storage units. John also writes for The Huffington Post, PR Daily, Muck Rack, CultureMap Austin, Allvoices, Texas Enterprise and Texas School Business magazine. From 1999 to 2006, John was editor and managing editor of the Austin Business Journal. John’s interests include sports, movies, music, travel and dining out. A native of Kansas, John earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.
“Most plans that fall under ERISA act (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) cannot be touched by a creditor if you’re sued. Most 401k plans fall under ERISA. IRA’s, on the other hand, are typically not ERISA plans, and can be lost if sued.”
So, most 401K plans cannot be touched. IRA’s can be.
Please call or click if you would like to discuss Personal Liability Umbrella Coverage.
Dwelling forms are used primarily for rental property insurance. That is, property’s that are occupied, but not owner occupied. Typically properties that are one to four family dwellings.
Rental property insurance covers you from potential exposure to financial loss from unpredictable events such as: Fire, windstorm damages, vandalism of personal property, and lawsuits from an injured person. Dwelling owners can protect themselves against all of these losses by purchasing Dwelling Fire and Liability insurance.
Coverage is provided for the residential dwelling, any structures attached to it, and materials and supplies on or adjacent to the location that are used for construction, alteration or repair of any structures at the described location. Coverage does not apply to land, including the land on which the dwelling is located.
Coverage is provided for other structures on the described location, set apart from the dwelling by clear space. This includes structures connected to the dwelling by only a fence, utility line, or similar connection. This coverage does not apply to land, including land on which the other structures are located.
A limited range of perils protects personal property usual to the occupancy as a dwelling. This coverage is not automatically provided in the Dwelling policy and must be specifically requested.
Fair Rental Value/Additional Living Expense:
Fair rental value and Additional living expense provide compensation if a covered loss renders the residence premises unusable.
Fair Rental Value means the fair rental of that part of the dwelling rented to others less any expenses that do not continue while that part of the dwelling rented or held for rental is not fit to live in.
Additional Living Expense means any necessary increase in living expenses incurred by you so that your household can maintain its normal standard of living.
This is important coverage if you or your family members are found negligent in causing bodily injury or property damage to another party that arises out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the insured premises. In that event, you have the peace of mind knowing we will pay the legal damages imposed on you and include legal defense cost if necessary.
If a visitor is injured in or around your home, we will pay for the medical expenses incurred by that person.
Some auto insurers have announced rebate programs in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Johnson & Rohan Insurance writes directly with 7 auto carriers and through MAIP (Massachusetts Automobile Insurance Plan) writes with all the others.
In conversation with companies, it seems, they’re all likely to participate in some sort of COVID-19 rebate relief program.
As soon as companies release their plans, we will let you know what to expect from your insurer.
Some of our companies that have released programs are Travelers, Progressive, Safety Insurance and Vermont Mutual:
Travelers Group – Stay-at-Home Auto Premium Credit Program
Personal auto insurance customers will receive a 15% credit on April and May auto premiums, expanding the company’s COVID-19 relief efforts
“Our customers are doing their part to stay at home and help stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Alan Schnitzer, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Travelers.
“Our new program recognizes their contribution to the effort we all need to make to protect our health and safety and the resulting decrease in miles driven and auto claims. We are committed to standing with our customers, agents and brokers, and this is one more step we’re taking to help ease some of the financial burden many are experiencing.”
Personal auto insurance customers will receive a 15% credit on April and May auto premiums, expanding the company’s COVID-19 relief efforts;
Also provides billing relief for all U.S. customers, including suspending cancellation and nonrenewal of coverage due to nonpayment through May 15, 2020 (no interest, late fees or penalties will be charged);
Providing telemedicine options for injured employees through workers’ compensation, including a temporary telerehabilitation program for those who are concerned about or unable to attend physical therapy visits in person.
Progressive’s Apron Relief Program
Extra support during the COVID-19 crisis
We hope you and your family are healthy and holding up well through the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19). While COVID-19 is causing disruption in our lives and communities, we’re committed to making sure that you have the protection and support you need.
Introducing the Apron Relief Program
To us, the apron is a symbol of protection. That’s why we’re assisting our customers, employees, communities, and agents by committing over $1 Billion to them in this time of need.
To our customers
Assistance with coverage and payments
During this unprecedented time, we know you may be experiencing stress and financial hardship. While you’re doing your part to fight the pandemic, we’re committed to being there in your time of need. With that in mind, here are some steps we’re taking to make things a little easier:
Personal auto premium credit
If you have an active personal auto policy at the end of April, you’ll receive a credit for 20% of your April premium. We’ll offer the same 20% credit to active personal auto customers at the end of May, and we may offer additional credits in the upcoming months.
There’s nothing you need to do. We’ll automatically calculate your credit at the end of each month, and then you’ll see it reflected in your account within a few weeks. If you have a balance on your policy, we’ll apply the credit directly to your remaining balance. And if you’re already paid in full, we’ll return the money to the payment account we have on file—so please make sure your payment details are up to date.
This credit is subject to approval by state regulators.
We don’t want you to worry about losing your insurance if you can’t pay right now. Starting April 1, 2020, we’ll waive late fees, pause collections, and hold off on canceling or non-renewing any active policies due to non-payment through May 15, 2020. Some states have already issued leniency guidelines, so we will adjust this timeline to either meet or exceed any state-specific requirements.
In the meantime, automatic payments will continue to go through unless you tell us to stop them. And after May 15th, any remaining balance on your policy will become due. If you need more support, please don’t hesitate to call us—we’re happy to work with you to manage payments moving forward.
We encourage you to make a payment right now if you’re able to. But if you need extra time, please give us a call—we’re ready to help.
If you’ve already requested billing leniency, please be patient with us. Our systems haven’t caught up quite yet, so you’ll continue to receive bills and your Payment Schedule may not reflect your request.
In addition to helping with payments and coverage, we are:
Supporting first responders, health care workers, and delivery personnel
First responders, health care workers, and delivery drivers are at the front lines of the crisis, and we’re doing everything we can to help by:
Providing expedited roadside assistance
Expanding coverage for personal auto customers who are temporarily delivering food or medicine
Offering meal delivery for our for-hire truckers
Providing a full-service claims experience for first responders and health care workers who experience a car accident. We’re providing transportation to work and expediting tow and vehicle repairs. And if needed, we’re deferring deductibles and providing a rental vehicle.
Helping customers get back on the road
We know finances might be tight. To help, we’re deferring deductibles for those who need a personal vehicle repaired and can’t pay out of pocket.
Safety Insurance has announced:
As a result of the financial impact that the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic is having on policyholders, we are announcing the Safety Personal Auto Relief Credit. Any Safety Insurance personal auto policyholder that has a policy in effect as of April 1st will receive a 15% credit off their premium for the months of April and May. Details of the program include:
Insureds must have made at least one payment on their policy and maintain continuous coverage to be eligible
The credits will be applied automatically, and insureds do not need to take any action
Policyholders that have paid in full will receive a refund
New business policies are eligible
This credit is pending regulatory approval
In addition to this credit, Safety’s previously announced initiatives remain ongoing:
Cancellation notices issued on or after March 23, 2020 have been rescinded and we have placed a hold on all non -payment policy cancellations until further notice. We have also waived all late and NSF fees.
Safety continues to provide auto coverage for customers who are now using their personal vehicles to make food deliveries as a result of changes to their business operations. As always, our staff is available to provide help and work through flexible solutions to the challenges our policyholders face.
We are making relief efforts through our Charitable Foundation to help support the communities in which we do business. We are providing financial support to the following local charities.
Massachusetts COVID -19 Relief Fund Boston Resiliency Fund Project Bread Healthcare Heroes to benefit the Massachusetts General Emergency Response Fund
Safety’s thoughts remain with everyone during these difficult times and we will continue to make decisions that have the best interest of our agents, policyholders, and employees in mind. Thank you for your continued partnership and please stay safe.
With our staff safe and fully functioning in remote locations now for several weeks, our focus has shifted to an analysis of the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business, along with how we can help others who have been personally impacted by the pandemic.
Like some carriers, we’ve begun to see a decrease in loss frequency in our personal lines auto book, resulting from the stay at home orders in place across our marketing territory. While it’s difficult to predict where this will settle and how quickly it will rebound, we have enough data to support an immediate refund for our customers.
On May 1st we will begin sending letters to our customers advising them that they qualify for a payback equivalent to 20% of their auto premium for 3 months. While this amount may be more than some carriers have announced, we would prefer to issue this payment once, rather than in multiple waves, but are prepared to revisit this if the frequency decrease persists longer than we anticipate.
Another area where we are approaching this differently than most is that we will provide our customers with the opportunity to donate their refund to one of several charities we have identified that have strong regional operations in New England who are assisting with local COVID-19 relief efforts. The process will work as follows:
May 1st – Mail letters to each customer explaining the payback process and identifying the amount they can expect to receive.
May 15th – Customer will have until this date to decide if they would like to have their refund paid to one of the four charities we have selected. They can do this by visiting the web address in the letter or by scanning the QR code in the letter with their smartphone, which will take them directly to our payback donation portal. The charities from which they can choose are:
Meals on Wheels
The United Way
The Salvation Army
May 16th – If a customer has taken no action to donate their refund, a check, or direct deposit transaction for EFT customers, will be issued to them for the amount shown in their May 1st letter.
May 20th – Donations will be made to the charities above, as directed by our customers.
In the spirit of helping others, we’ve also directed donations to local charities most in need of immediate support and will continue to explore ways to further support them and the small businesses we count on in our communities. To provide our employees with the opportunity to participate in our charitable efforts, effective immediately we are also increasing the company match of employee charitable contributions from 100% to 200%.
Please don’t hesitate to contact either of us or any member of the Vermont Mutual Team if you have any questions about our premium payback program and thanks for your continued support of Vermont Mutual.
Together we can make a difference and get through these challenging times.