Snow and Ice Removal: What you need to know…

Who is responsible for snow and ice removal and the related claims that might arise? This guide offers tips and details you may not have considered.

Building Owners, Property Managers, and Lessees must be mindful of inclement weather and know who is responsible for taking reasonable care to prevent unsafe conditions due to snow and ice accumulation.

So, who is responsible for snow and ice removal, and who is liable for any claims that might arise? The answers are in your lease agreement and or contracts which may involve numerous parties from Building Owners and Property Managers to landscaping or facilities maintenance contractors. Once you have determined your responsibilities, you should take the necessary steps below to transfer the responsibility for snow and ice removal to the snow and ice removal contractor.

Many business owners sign a contract with a contractor to remove snow from parking lots and sidewalks. The contractor removes the snow and may sometimes leave a slippery surface covered in ice. You might wonder why they left an ice-covered parking lot and or sidewalk. The scope of work in the contract might have stated that the contractor would plow your parking lot. In that case, ice removal was not included in the contract and is your responsibility to remove it. Therefore, it is important to carefully select your contractor before the start of the winter season. Consider the quality of work, ability to react quickly to a storm, adequacy of equipment, experience, reputation, and ability to meet the unique needs of your building or facility.

It is important to remember that snow removal contracts are legal documents. They should be reviewed by your attorney, and you may also want to consult your insurance agent regarding contractor exposures.

  • In selecting contractors, protect your financial interests by using sound risk transfer techniques. Insist on a signed written contract between you and all contractors, before they begin work at your site. A contractual agreement between you and any contractors should include these elements:
  • The contractor should agree to maintain general liability insurance coverage of at least $1 million and also provide you with certificates of insurance.
  • The contractor should name you as an additional insured on their liability policy.
  • The contract should contain liability agreements and waivers of subrogation in your favor.
  • The contractor should agree to hold you harmless if there are liability claims arising from the action, inaction, and/or workmanship of the contractor. The contractor also should agree to waive subrogation rights.

5 Easy Steps to a Safer Home

Keeping your family safe and your home in good condition are top priorities for any homeowner.

What’s one way to help achieve these goals? You can conduct a home safety audit each year.

This simply means inspecting a few things and reviewing emergency plans with everyone in your household. These easy safety checks can make all the difference. Here’s where to start.

Locate and test smoke alarms. Do you have enough smoke alarms, and are they working? You want one on each floor, including one inside and outside each sleeping area. Test each alarm, replace expired batteries and replace alarms older than 10 years.

Practice getting out and meeting up. It’s important to have a well-understood evacuation plan in case of a fire or other emergency. Go over the details (like how to exit safely and how to gather up your pets) and practice them together. Settle on a meeting place outside.

Check fire extinguishers. Do you have one in the garage and one in the kitchen? Make sure the dial shows the extinguisher is still pressurized. Review the instructions for using it (and know when to use it and when to evacuate).

Look for kitchen hazards. Has grease built up around the stove or on your range hood filter? It could start a cooking fire. Also, make sure cleaning products are locked away from young children and pets.

Check carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure they’re still working and have fresh backup batteries. Some are integrated with smoke alarms, but plug-in ones at knee level may provide better detection.

Do you have questions about keeping your home safe or about your coverage? Reach out anytime for assistance.

Uninsured Motorist Insurance IS VERY important…..Here’s Why.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists Coverage, How Important Is It?

We all know that auto insurance is required on all vehicles on Ohio roads. Car insurance is pretty much the same across the board. The only real difference is the person who sold you the policy and how they explained it. For a majority of people, price is the single biggest reason where they purchase their auto insurance, either through an Ohio Independent Insurance Agent, which is what we recommend or through companies you see on TV.  Sometimes, these companies, and other insurance agents, fail to explain or even offer the important optional coverage’s in a vain attempt to give you the cheapest price possible. Are they doing you any favors? I don’t think they are.  Believe me, I know price is very important when it comes to insurance. However, it’s also my job to make you aware of all your insurance coverage options and explain how they can help protect you and your family. Ultimately, it’s your choice so you might as well be informed when making these decisions. One of the most important coverage’s you should consider is Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Coverage. Here are the quick definitions:

  • Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)- This covers bodily injury and other compensatory damages for you or your passengers if you are hit by an at-fault driver who doesn’t have any insurance to pay the amount you are legally entitled to recover.
  • Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)- Provides coverage for bodily injury and other compensatory damages for you or your passengers if you hit by an at-fault driver who doesn’t have enough insurance to pay the full amount you are legally entitled to recover.

Now let’s get into why this coverage is so important for you and your family.

According to the Insurance Research Council, if someone is injured in a car accident in the United States, the chances are one in seven(over 14% !) that the accident was caused by an uninsured driver.  Just think about how many cars you share the road with every day.  I know that 10,000 cars pass our offices in Marion and Powell every day.  Using the averages, that means that 1,400 of those cars do not have insurance!  That is really scary.

Then, when you think about the number of people driving that are underinsured and carry just the minimum liability limits required by Ohio ($25,000  bodily injury per person, $50,000 bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 property damage) makes everyday driving even scarier.

Let me give you an example of how this insurance coverage works. There are time bombs out there and I don’t want you to be caught with your guard down. Imagine that you are driving your family across town (not too uncommon right?), and another driver runs a red light and broadsides you. There are significant injuries, loss of wages, rehabilitation costs, the total damage to your new car, etc. You then come to find out that the person who hit you doesn’t even have car insurance!

What happens is that you have to rely on the uninsured motorist coverage of your own car insurance policy to bail you out of the financial ruin because of someone else’s negligence. But, if you have enough UM/UIM coverage, you can make your claim with your own insurance company for EVERYTHING (except punitive damages) the bad driver owes you including: special damages (example- loss of earnings, future loss of earnings, diminished earning capacity, & cost to travel for medical treatment), and general damages (pain & suffering, living forever with paralysis, loss of enjoyment, loss of a standard of living, etc.) It’s important to note that NONE OF THIS IS COVERED BY HAVING GREAT HEALTH INSURANCE!!! This situation is all too real and happens every day of the week. I can not stress enough the importance of this coverage. It’s relatively inexpensive and can be added to your policy immediately. After all, this will be coverage to protect you and your family.  Some companies are now allowing you to add UM/UIM coverage onto your umbrella insurance policy as well, adding an additional layer of protection for your and your family.

Please give us a call to review this important coverage.

That’s why we’re here.

eGoodwin Insurance is a locally owned and operated Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agency located in Marion and Powell, OH.  We have been protecting Central  Ohio families and businesses since 1990.

Car Accidents are Increasing! Do you know what to do?…..

Unfortunately, most of us will probably be involved in a car accident at some point. I’ve been in a couple myself.  Though you may not be able to guess exactly how you’ll react to a crash, knowing what to expect can make this unpleasant experience less overwhelming.

What to Do Immediately After the Wreck

Take a few deep breaths to process what’s happened. Once you’re ready, take the following steps:

  • Check to see if anyone is hurt. This includes yourself, your passengers, and anyone in the other vehicle. If anyone has been seriously injured, call 911.
  • Stay on the scene. Take note of the other vehicle’s make and model, and record the license plate number if you can.
  • Keep yourself safe. If your car is stopping traffic or is otherwise in a dangerous place, pull to the nearest parking lot or roadside. Turn off your engine and turn on your hazards.
  • Document the accident. Exchange insurance information and take a picture of any damage if possible.  Notify the appropriate authorities and stay on the scene until they arrive.  It is important to have an accurate police report made – especially if you are not at fault.  The police report documents the at-fault party.
  • Go home and rest. Then, as soon as you’re able, call your insurance company to notify them of the accident.

Post-Accident Self-Care

Coping with an accident isn’t just about nursing physical injuries. Your mental health is equally important. Once your doctor clears you for normal activity, check-in with yourself.

You may feel a mix of emotions, from shock and disbelief to anger or guilt. Don’t hesitate to share the experience with loved ones or a professional counselor. If you’re still having trouble feeling comfortable behind the wheel after a few weeks, consider taking a defensive driving course.

Even minor accidents can have serious effects, so give yourself time to recover and ask for help when needed.

Opioid Abuse Epidemic is right here in Ohio…What I’ve Learned

Recently I’ve begun to learn about what has become the nation’s number one health care crisis: opioid use. It was a wake-up call to some astonishing information. The insurance industry, especially health insurance, has begun to feel the devastating effects and so far there is no end in sight. The statistics are alarming:

  • Every 16 minutes, there is a death from opioid overdose
  • 1,375 percent increase in opioid treatment spending over five years
  • 4.5 million Americans estimated to have a substance use disorder associated with prescription painkillers
  • $78.5 billion estimated costs of America’s opioid epidemic

According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention mortality data, death rates for young adults ages 25 to 44 has increased from 139.8 per 100,000 in 2010 to 151.3 per 100,000 in 2015, an increase of 8.2 percent in 5 years. In our own backyard (Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania), those increases are 20 percent or more. This is concerning data when you factor in the costs associated and the number of lives destroyed.

In 2016, it is estimated that 59,000 to 65,000 lives were taken from drug overdoses in the U.S. These estimates are conservative, considering unreported or misreported overdose deaths. Compare that with peak car crash death rates in 1972 of 54,589 and peak H.I.V. deaths in 1995 of 50,887.

As opioid use continues to rise, drug overdoses are expected to be the leading cause of death in the U.S. for Americans under age 50. Synthetic opioids, such as Fentanyl and its closely related counterparts, play a major role in driving overdose death numbers to exponential levels. Resources and budgets are strained by the rise in numbers. Increased police, medical care, foster care, and additional administrative burdens have all combined to quickly exceed state and federal budgets.

So, how have we arrived at such outrageous numbers? Some thought-provoking background:

From the mid-1980s through the 2000s:

  1. First publication suggesting the safety of extended opioid use in non-cancer pain
  2. MS Contin approval
  3. OxyContin approval
  4. APS launches “Pain as the Fifth Vital Sign” campaign
  5. Purdue launches $200 million marketing campaign
  6. Multiple new opioid brands and key generics flood market
  7. Opioid Rx volume and death toll skyrocket
  8. Government investigations ensue
  9. Purdue pays $600 million in fines for false promotion
  10. 2012: 259 million opiate Rxs were issued in the U.S.

The opioid use disorder (OUD) epidemic has been driven by the U.S. health care system’s unintentional widespread prescribing of opioid painkillers without realizing the consequences.

  • 80 percent of the world’s supply of all Rx opioids are consumed in the U.S.
  • 92 units is the average number of tablets per Rx. Opioid dependence can start in just a few days. The risk of chronic opioid use increases with each additional day of opioid supplied starting with the third day.
  • 91 percent of patients who experience opioid overdose receive another opioid Rx within 10 months.
  • 80 percent of heroin users report starting on Rx opioids prior to transitioning to heroin.
  • 53 percent of users received opioids free from a friend/relative, while another 16.6 percent took or bought them from a friend/relative.

The CDC publishes guidelines for prescribing opioids which include, but are not limited to:

  • Opioids are not to be the first-line therapy for chronic pain.
  • The short duration of acute pain.
  • Three days of therapy should be sufficient, more than seven days is rarely needed.
  • The lowest effective dose is recommended to start.

Interestingly, 44.7 percent of first-fill opioid prescriptions are NOT in compliance with CDC recommendations.

From an insurer’s perspective, the focus is on methods of treatment and the education of providers. Determining the most effective approach to care in order to provide sustained long-term results is critical. Approaching OUD as a long-term chronic condition, instead of relying solely on short-term interventions, is essential. Each patient is unique and needs dedicated appropriate resources and guidance.

Pairing counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy with approved FDA medication to treat substance abuse disorders and prevent opioid overdose are more effective than behavioral interventions or medication alone. Studies suggest that with this medication-assisted treatment, the chances of remission within a year are significantly greater, up to 50 percent compared to 10 percent with traditional treatment. Along with these figures, this type of treatment costs up to 75 percent less than residential treatment. Education of physicians for this treatment protocol is critical and will take time. However, insurance carriers are responding to the needs rapidly and are developing methods to educate both the providers and the public.

In March of 2017, President Trump created a commission to study the crisis and their interim report has made a number of initial recommendations. As of October 2017, the Trump administration declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency.

As we, together, begin to recognize the scale of this crisis, it is critical that we acknowledge that OUD is an epidemic that does not discriminate. Be it the athlete who is prescribed pain medications for an injury and becomes addicted, or a relative who is recovering from surgery, or any one of the many circumstances in which victims’ lives are taken, let’s not be so quick to judge. Taking a “moral” perspective will not affect change. Instead, we need to come together to find a solution.

How Are Car Insurance Rates Calculated?

Understanding Your Car Insurance

From your gender to your location, various factors influence how much you pay for car insurance. Here’s a look at the details that determine your rate along with what you can do to decrease your yearly costs.

Gender and Age
Women and older drivers have statistics to thank for their lower insurance rates. On the whole, men are involved in more severe accidents and incur more DUI charges than female drivers, making them more expensive to insure. Drivers under the age of 25 can also expect to pay higher premiums simply based on data.

Driving and Credit History
The better your driving record, the better your rates tend to be, while traffic violations and accidents can quickly hike up the price you pay per month. Residents in most states can also save money on their car insurance if they have better than average credit, as many insurers use credit-based insurance scores to determine rates.

Vehicle Type
The age and size of your vehicle also trigger different price points. For example, newer luxury vehicles may incur a higher rate because these tend to be stolen more often. Larger cars are generally considered safer and could bring the price down, but cars with relatively large engines (sports cars, for example) could push premiums higher.

The population density of your city can markedly impact your car insurance premium. People in rural areas usually see lower rates while drivers in busy urban areas see higher ones due to the increased chance of having a collision or experiencing a break-in.

When it comes to your auto insurance, some factors that influence costs are well within your control. Others, unfortunately, are not. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to look into available discounts or bundle options that could lower your monthly rate.

1 in 5 American Homes have been Burglarized.. Are You at Risk?

I remember coming home on a weekday afternoon a couple of years ago and finding an unknown SUV parked in front of my barn and the side door of the barn hanging open.  Within seconds a man ran out of the barn, hopped in the truck, and drove off.  There’s no telling what he might have made off with had I not come home early that day.   I was fortunate.  But it opened my eyes.

Home invasions can cost homeowners more than just their valuables, but their peace of mind and sense of security, too.  I know.

And according to a new report, experiencing such a traumatic event is much more likely than many may think.

The newly released 2017 home security report found that 63% of American homes are at high risk of burglary.

The data scientists at surveyed 1,000 Americans about how they protect their homes when they’re away and also found that 16% of Americans say they’ve experienced a burglary. These victims identified the factors they say they believe contributed to or caused their home invasion.

Here are the top five factors putting American homes at risk:

No. 5: Living in an apartment building
Of the 16% of Americans who say they have experienced a burglary, 7% say living in an apartment building put them at greater risk. Apartments can be more accessible targets for thieves for a few reasons, mainly due to easier access.

Fire escapes or sliding side doors can provide thieves with easy entry if not secured properly. There’s also an anonymity factor, where burglars could potentially walk through an apartment complex appearing to others as a resident. The significantly smaller size of an apartment compared to a home also makes it easier for thieves to cover more ground in a shorter amount of time.

In addition, renters experience a burglary at nearly double the rate of homeowners, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

No. 4: An open window

Eight percent (8%) of burglary victims say an open window was the cause of their attack.’s home security report found that 60% of Americans leave their windows open when they’re away, putting the majority at risk. Of that 60%, approximately 15% say they simply forget to close their windows, and another 15% say they leave their windows open in warmer weather.

No. 3: An unlocked door

Forty-two percent (42%) of Americans say they leave their doors unlocked when they are away from home. Some say they plan to return quickly (14%), and others say they just forgot (12%). As the number three-factor, 14% of burglary victims attribute their robbery to an unlocked door. Supporting this claim, data collected from a 2012 FBI Crime Report says 34% of burglars enter through the front door.

No. 2: No home security system

As the number two factor, 16% of burglary victims say not having a security system puts them at risk. According to, only 37% of Americans own a security system, putting 6 in 10 U.S. homes at risk. According to the FBI, homes without security systems are up to 300% more likely to be broken into.

No. 1: Neighborhood or surroundings

Nearly 24% of Americans burglarized say their neighborhood or surroundings put them at greater risk. Besides taking basic safety precautions like locking doors and windows, there are other ways to make your home less of a target.

Experts suggest adding more lights in and around your property to deter burglars. Keeping the lights on inside will make it harder to tell if anyone is home, and more exterior lights will make it easier for would-be thieves to be seen.

Five Ways You Can Defend Your Small Business Against Fraud – NOW!

I have worked with many small business and family-owned businesses in my 27 years as a professional insurance agent.  I’ve certainly learned that trust and loyalty are desirable traits in a small business; however, these traits can also leave a small business vulnerable.

In fact, small businesses are especially vulnerable to fraud, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) 2016 Global Fraud Study. The study found that businesses with fewer than 100 employees, which are in many cases family-owned, experience fraud at a rate of 28.8%, compared to the 19.8% experienced by those with more than 10,000 employees.

In a  small business, trust and security often have an inverse relationship, meaning as trust increases in a business, the quality of internal controls and security is minimized. Business relationships — particularly among family members — can become strained when individuals believe they are owed more money or authority than they receive.

Personal financial pressure and emotional stress outside the business can also create tension within an organization. In worst-case scenarios, most employees know there is little risk of exposure, and the perceived benefits of financial fraud outweigh these risks.

When family members and employees are suspected of fraud within the business, they may not be held accountable due to the dynamic of a close-knit work environment. Especially family members, who may be more hesitant to report relatives to authorities, seeking to save the family member from jail time or the embarrassment that ensues.

Of course, smaller companies suffer more when fraudulent activity occurs. It’s more difficult to control the damage in a $5 million company than in a $250 million company. Misappropriated money often makes a greater impact, and the damage is experienced throughout the entire organization, affecting company culture. While a perpetrator in a large organization may be viewed as a singular “bad egg,” one in a smaller business can be viewed as an institutional problem or part of ongoing corruption to other employees.

According to the study, the median fraudulent loss of $150,000 suffered by small organizations was the same as the fraudulent loss experienced by large organizations. However, in a smaller company, that loss represents a significantly larger percentage of the company’s overall value. The number demonstrates the enhanced responsibility and trust often granted to individuals within a smaller company, leading perpetrators to believe they can take more with little risk of exposure.

Establishing effective controls

When personal and professional interests collide, the best approach to maintaining success and prosperity, from both familial and financial perspectives, is to implement and strictly enforce effective internal controls.

Five ways to enforce internal controls include:

1.  Segregate financial duties. Corruption involving check tampering, skimming, payroll, and cash larceny schemes are twice as common in small organizations compared to larger organizations. One employee alone should never control the entire business’ finances. A simple solution is to create a three-person system of checks and balances: one person opens the bank statements, one prepares the bank reconciliations, and a third person reviews all transactions and canceled checks.

2. Avoid signature stamps for checks. A small business should consider requiring two signatures for any payment over a certain monetary amount.

3. Establish routine checks of payroll, supplier, and vendor lists by multiple people within the company. Seventy-seven percent of occupational fraud is committed by employees working in accounting, operations, sales, executive management, customer service, purchasing, or finance. The final payroll list should be reviewed by someone other than the person distributing checks and preparing the payroll. Similarly, the list of vendors should periodically be checked for unrecognized names.

4.  Give more employees an understanding of financial reporting. Even if employees claim to not be “numbers” people, it’s important that all staff are aware of financial reporting and are making an effort to understand the business’ finances. To increase transparency and provide another level of security, outsource your financial reporting and ensure someone is monitoring for fraud.

5. Focus on ensuring clear expectations are established for all employees. Every employee — including family members — should understand protocols in a business from expectations to pay rates and benefits. Clear expectations help avoid a power struggle and will clearly define who is double-checking various aspects of the business.

Trust is not an internal control

When confronting fraud in a family business, family loyalties or dynamics must be set aside. Even in small businesses, the most common way fraud is detected is through anonymous tips. Organizations with fraud hotlines are more likely to detect fraud compared to those without, at a rate of 47.3% compared to just 28.2%.

Appropriate punishments should be considered in advance and decided upon by multiple employees. Then, companies must follow through on those punishments. The ACFE study found that 40.7% of companies choose not to involve law enforcement due to either fear of bad publicity or the desire to remain loyal to the perpetrator. Decision-makers should maintain a zero-tolerance policy for uncovered fraudsters, as an effective deterrent against copycats.

Another measure a business can take to mitigate the damaging effects of fraud is to work with their insurance provider to ensure their plan includes coverage and protection from employee dishonesty. Outside investigative fees are difficult to estimate due to the number of layers that could be in play in any investigation.

A business should explore purchasing an insurance rider to cover costs of fraud investigations and potential legal fees, as well as the cost of financial loss incurred by the fraudulent activity. In any case, fraud prevention is a much more cost-effective safeguard than reactive damage control.

Fraud can happen anywhere

The more you believe it can’t happen in your business, the more susceptible you become to it. Most fraud perpetrators are first-time offenders and are well-standing employees in the company, resulting in greater access to controls and the belief they won’t get caught. Family businesses’ increased susceptibility is an essential reason to defend against fraud with multiple internal controls and external resources.

For more tips and resources on defending your business against fraud, contact your local law enforcement agency or financial adviser.




Insurance Tips following Hurricane Harvey

Like you, I have been watching the news about Houston, Hurricane Harvey, and now Irma. It’s looking like this hurricane season will be the most expensive one of all time – topping the $15billion in losses that FEMA experienced in Louisiana and Mississippi. We will not know the extent of the damage for some time as the storm moves, the waters recede and the damage is uncovered. It is heartbreaking to see the loss that so many people must endure.

A Homeowner Insurance Policy will cover many types of claims – wind, rain, hail, vandalism, and more….but a standard policy will not cover flood damage from overflowing rivers and streets.

Flood coverage is usually purchased on a stand-alone policy from the National Flood Insurance Program administered by the federal government. Just about any property and casualty insurance agent can procure a flood policy with the NFLIP. NFLIP is anticipating approximately 150,000 claims from Hurricane Harvey for flood damage and Irma may add significantly to that. There will likely be another 50,000 claims for wind and rain damage that standard home insurance policies will likely pay for Harvey and more for Irma.

Sadly, there are estimates that less than 20% of the homes damaged by the flood will have a flood insurance policy to help pay for the damage..many people will be left on their own to pay for their flood-related losses.

According to FEMA the average flood claim typically ranges from $10,000 to $42,775 with a Flood Insurance Policy costing from $650 to $1500 per year.

The first 5 months of 2017 show the average claim payment for a flood loss has been $24,698. It has been estimated that 52% of the homes and buildings in the Houston metro area are at a “high” or “moderate” risk of flooding. These statistics may get worse as we go through these 2 hurricane disasters.

For people with flood damage it is important that they document their damage – written is ok, video and digital pics are preferred. They should file their claim as soon as they are able.

Flood insurance can cover both the building and contents…but like typical property insurance, it does not cover the land. Coverage for basements, crawl spaces, and lower floors may be limited.

The dwelling coverage can cover property up to $250,000 and contents up to $100,000 The flood policy does not give guaranteed replacement like some home insurance policies do. It will only pay up to the amount of insurance described on the declaration page.

Building coverage includes:

  • Building and Foundation
    The electrical and plumbing systems, major systems like central air conditioning equipment, furnaces, and the hot water heater
  • Som e appliances such as refrigerators, cooking stoves, and built-in appliances like dishwashers
  • Permanently installed carpeting over an unfinished floor
  • Window Blinds
  • Permanently installed paneling, wallboard, bookcases, and cabinets
  • A detached garage – up to 10% of the building coverage

Contents Coverage Includes:

  • Clothing, Furniture and Electronic equipment
  • Curtains
  • Portable and window air conditioners
  • Portable appliances such as microwaves and dishwashers
  • Carpeting that is not covered under the building coverage
  • Clothes washers and dryers
  • Food freezers and the food in them
  • Certain valuable items such as original artwork and turns – up to $2,500

there are a number of things that a flood insurance policy will not coverage including:

  • Currency, precious metals, and valuable papers like stock certificates
  • Damage caused by moisture, mildew, or mold that could have been prevented by the homeowner or renter
  • Property items outside of the dwelling such as trees, plants, wells, septic systems, walkways, decks, patios, fences, hot tubs, seawalls, and swimming pools
  • Financial losses due to business interruption or loss of use of the insured property
  • Most self=propelled vehicles – cars, motorcycles, four-wheelers, etc.
  • Damage from sewer backups unless there is a flood in the area and the flood is the proximate cause of the sewer or drain backup


Individuals or businesses with a flood insurance policy should file a claim as quickly as they can if they sustain flood damage. Since there has been an official Presidential Disaster Declaration, homeowners may be eligible for assistance from other sources such as FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration, or even some state or private organizations.

Residents who register for disaster assistance may be able to get help for temporary housing, funds for home repairs, and help with home replacement or permanent housing construction.

When you call to make your claim be sure to have your policy number, the name of the agent you bought the policy through, and your contact information. Give your cell, email, and where you can be reached regarding the claim. Keep careful notes about who you spoke with and what was said.


Make a list of your damaged items and if you can, include where and when they were purchased and their cost. Online vendors may be able to provide receipts for your purchases. If you have photos of items prior to the storm have them available for your claim adjuster.

Be sure to document any items that you have discarded, need to be disposed of, or placed outside of the home or office.

Keep all copies of estimates from contractors, any expert’s reports, or other documentation related to the cost of the claim. If your claim is denied or there are questions about coverage, having a record of what was lost or the cost to repair the damage will be helpful in appealing the decision.

Take pictures of large ticket replacement items that are purchased such as televisions, appliances as well as the receipts as proof of purchase. The more documentation you have, the easier it will be to substantiate your claim.


Sadly, there are many unscrupulous people who will take advantage of a disaster to fleece you of your money. Before engaging any contractor be sure to check them out. Ask for references and proof of insurance. Look for online reviews. Do they have a website? Do they have a FB page? Are they registered with the BBB? The old adage – “If it sounds too good to be true…it probably is” applies.

Be careful.

I just got a moving violation!!! Now What?

A moving violation ticket will leave a bitter taste in any driver’s mouth. I know…I’ve had them. So have a lot of my clients.

A violation can spike a driver’s auto insurance premium. Plus it may come with hefty financial penalties. But depending on the violation or which state the driver is located in, it could be extremely burdensome on a driver’s wallet.

A recent Quadrant Information Services study found car insurance premiums can climb by as much as 96% after a single moving violation on average nationwide. Ohio is not nearly as punitive as some states.

The Type of Violation Makes a Big Difference in the Potential Insurance Rate Increase

The study analyzed the average national premium increase for one moving violation in 21 different categories, including careless driving, reckless driving, driving under the influence, and speeding. As in years past, the study found the economic impact on one’s insurance premium varies significantly among different types of violations and among different states.

Here are some of the study’s key findings along with some advice on what you can do after a moving violation to keep your rates as low as possible:

Your premium increase will depend on the specific violation.

Take, for instance, the difference between reckless and careless driving.
According to Robert Nevo, a former Georgia police officer and current owner of Nevo Driving Academy, careless driving is usually defined as “a minor lapse in judgment,” such as following too closely to the vehicle in front of you. Reckless driving, however, concerns more “intentional acts,” such as driving in a way that shows no regard for the safety of others. A Reckless Driving citation can have severe consequences.

“Moving violations are typically weighted with a point system. This makes an excessive speeding violation much more severe than, say, a broken taillight violation,” said Nevo. “Insurance companies often see more points against a driver’s license as an increased risk. Therefore, you’re going to see higher premiums for that driver.”
Whether it’s a minor or major offense, your wallet will feel the toll.

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the average annual U.S. auto insurance premium is $866. That means an 88% premium spike for one reckless driving offense will result in an increase of just more than $750 per year.

Even relatively “minor” infractions, such as following too close or not yielding to a pedestrian, can mean paying an average of $260 more per year for car insurance. Driving under the influence carries an expensive insurance penalty, with a single infraction resulting in an average premium spike of $1,086.

You can still save money.

While your premium may be impacted for quite some time, the moving violation will eventually be erased from your driving record. How long you’ll feel the increased premium’s impact depends on the severity of the violation as well as the individual state laws. Here are some tips for the bumpy times ahead.

Seek forgiveness:
If this your first moving violation, especially a minor one such as a failure to signal, talk to your auto insurer. They’re typically going to be somewhat forgiving for a small infraction. Take advantage of any driving classes your state might be offering to remove one or two moving violations from your record.
You can buy “Accident and Violation Forgiveness” as part of your auto insurance policy. You must buy this endorsement BEFORE the accident or violation of course.

Make a deal:
If your violation isn’t too severe, look for a plea bargain when your day at traffic court is due.

Use an Independent Insurance Agency:
Independent agents have multiple insurance companies to shop for a new car insurance policy.

Wait it out:
Eventually, your driving record will go back to its original clean slate, but that could take anywhere from three to five years.