Archive for the ‘contractor coverage’ Tag

Christmas Outtakes   Leave a comment

As promised last weeks, here are some of the more amusing outtakes from last week’s photoshoot for our Christmas “card”:

Sammy

She just couldn’t stay awake!

These next three would’ve made an amusing gif.  It appears almost as though she’s singing “Joy to the World!” like Clark Griswold.

Sammy

JOY

Sammy

TO

Sammy

THE WORLD!

This is one of my favorites of all of them:

Sammy / Mork

Nanoo Nanoo
Oh, wait – too young for that joke?

These last pictures show just how hard it is to keep Sammy’s attention, even with treats!

Sammy steps

Who’s upstairs?

Cute bored dog

Are we done yet? Pretty bored over here…

Sammy looking down

What’s that?

Sammy treats

I’m coming to get my treat now!

Sammy housetop

Up on the housetop, click click click….

(for reference on that last one)

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Before you have work done on your home….   Leave a comment

Might be time to call in a repair man!

Might be time to call in a repair man!

Good morning!  Today we have a very simple recommendation for you to consider before having a contractor come to do work on your home.

Before you have a contractor (any type of contractor) come in to your home to work, you should have them provide you with a current certificate of insurance.  A certificate (example below) will reflect the liability coverages that the contractor is carrying.  Liability coverages pay for injury or damages suffered by another – like yourself – for which the contractor is responsible (liable).  Thus, you will want confirmation that your contractor has the appropriate coverage in place!

What is the appropriate coverage, you ask?  Well, there are a few things to look for on the certificate:

  • General Liabilitythis is a catch-all for many types of injuries and damages.  It covers a broad range of incidents, such as someone (including you!) being injured at your home as a result of the contractor’s work, or the damage that’s done to your home if the contractor does the repairs improperly (important note – it does not cover the correction of the original mistake, but it DOES cover the damage that’s done as a result of the mistake.  The contractor is on the hook to pay for the correction).  Pennsylvania law only requires a contractor to carry $50,000 in coverage, but most good agents will not write a GL policy for less than $300,000 in coverage.
  • Voluntary Property Damagethis is a critical coverage for ALL contractors to carry, and it is OFTEN MISSED by both agents and contractors.  Basically, VPD will pay for damage that results from the contractor taking any of your household items into their “possession” – for example, carrying your TV across the room to do work behind it, and the TV is dropped.  This type of incident is NOT covered under general liability; thus the contractor without it would have to pay this claim out of his own pocket!
  • Workers Compensation – this provides protection for the employees of the contractor if they are injured while working.  Why is this coverage important to you?  If an employee is injured while working at your home, and the contractor doesn’t carry WC coverage, YOU could be on the hook to pay for the employee’s lost wages and medical expenses!  The most common scenario is that the contractor would be required to pay these expenses, but if he does not have the means to do so, they will most likely pursue you next.  Even if you aren’t found to be liable, you will have a claim against your homeowners policy to pay your defense expenses.
  • Generation and policy effective datesWhile reviewing the certificate, be certain to review two items of particular importance – the date the certificate was generated, and the policy effective dates!  Make sure, of course, that the policy is within its effective dates and is not expired.  And make sure the date that the certificate was generated (at the top right hand corner of the certificate) is relatively recent (within the past week or two).  Less scrupulous contractors have been known to pass off older certificates, being fully aware that their coverage has cancelled (due to non-payment, for example).

I hope that this information is helpful to you in protecting your home and your claims record!  Be cautious, and if you have questions after receiving a contractor’s certificate – ask your agent to review it with you!  Until next time, I bid you a fond adieu!

ACORD certificate

Example copy of the most common form of a certificate of insurance

 

 

 

 

A review of personal insurance – Auto insurance (physical damage)   3 comments

Dog Blog

I’ve been waiting for a little while now….

OK OK I know that I said I’d be back to finish up auto coverages a few days ago.  Business being what it is, it’s taken me a little while.  But here we are, and off we go!

Last week we reviewed liability and injury coverages.  This week, we are going to review the coverages in place to protect the damages to your vehicle itself and ways to save on them.

  • Collision  – Even though this is “backwards” from how the coverages appear on your policy, it’s easier to explain starting with Collision.  Collision provides coverage for your vehicle when it collides with some other inanimate object, or is hit by another moving vehicle.  In the state of PA, unfortunately, that includes when your car is hit by a shopping cart.  Some examples of collision claims:  if your car is parked and gets hit by another car (or shopping cart!), you hit a patch of black ice and slam into a tree, or you are at fault in a multi-vehicle accident.  Ways to save – see note after Comprehensive
  • Comprehensive (Comp) – Comprehensive is most easily explained as “all other covered forms of physical damage to your vehicle,” hence the name.  In PA, comprehensive coverage does pick up one type of accident that would otherwise be considered a collision – hitting an animal or pedestrian.  These damages would be covered by comprehensive.  Other examples of comp claims:  if your car is stolen, catches on fire, suffers flood damage, a tree falls on it, etc.  Windshield and other glass damage is covered by comp (unless caused by a non-animal collision).  Ways to save – Easiest and most common way to save is by increasing your deductible.  Be wary of two things, though – first is that collision is far more expensive than comp, so it’s far more effective to increase your collision deductible.  Second is that you should be aware that the savings by increasing the deductible will not offset (in one year) the increased out of pocket cost in the event of a claim.
  • Comp or collision pay for a total loss of the vehicle based on the depreciated (Blue Book) value of the car.  All other (partial) losses are paid based on the actual expense of repairs (less the deductible).
  • Rental Reimbursement (RR) – RR provides coverage if you need to pay for a rental car as a result of a covered comp or collision claim.  In other words: you have a covered claim.  Your vehicle will be in the shop for two weeks.  You need a car in the interim.  You pay for a rental vehicle.  RR coverage will reimburse you for the cost, up to specified daily limits and maximum duration (typically, $30 a day for 30 days).  Ways to save – only real way to save here, outside of not purchasing it at all, is to carry lower per day limits.
  • Towing & Labor (T&L) – T&L provides coverage in the event that you need some form of roadside assistance (change a flat tire, charge a dead battery, keys locked in your car) or need to be towed for virtually any reason (mechanical breakdown, run out of gas, etc).  No real way to save here, it’s generally very inexpensive to begin with.  Only thing to consider – if you are paying for this AND AAA or some similar road service, be aware you may be paying twice for the same coverage.
  • Gap Coverage – This provides coverage for new cars that are purchased using a car loan.  As noted above, in the event of a total loss to your car, the policy will only pay for the depreciated value of the vehicle, NOT the loan amount.  Typically, the loan amount is higher than the depreciated value, creating a “gap” in coverage.  Gap coverage fills the void by paying for the difference.  This coverage can be purchased through the dealership or on your auto policy.  Compare BOTH terms and pricing before choosing where to buy the coverage!

That about does it for this review.  There are other liability and physical damage coverages available, but these are by far the most common (at least in PA).

Relax

So just relax and enjoy the ride – knowing you are well covered!

What the Hail?!   Leave a comment

Hail

Wow! Thank goodness we didn’t see anything the size of these babies!

Some timely advice for local Pittsburghers who endured the relatively uncommon pelting of hail yesterday:

Worried about hail damage? Don’t be!

– Virtually every building (home or business) policy includes coverage for hail damage, even if you have a named perils policy.
– Same for auto policies – if you carry comprehensive, you have coverage for hail damage.
– If you are concerned about hail damage on the roof of your building – DON’T get up there to check it yourself! Hire a professional.  Also, make sure its either someone you trust, or is reputable and in good standing in the BBB or Angies List.

It wouldn’t be a bad idea to be present for the inspection. Sadly, some of the less-reputable “contractors” will go onto people’s roofs with a ballpeen hammer and create some “hail damage” of there own to get some quick and easy repair work.

In addition, if you have a chip in your windshield, get it fixed now before it becomes a crack!  If you carry comprehensive on your auto policy, and the chip is about the size of a quarter, most policies will pay for the repair with no cost to you.  Once it turns into a full blown crack, and it needs to be replaced, then you would pay your comp deductible and the company pays the balance.
Other questions or concerns? Talk to your agent!

(Photos courtesy of Hail Events & Scott Blair)

Windshield

Probably going to need replaced….

Windshield

Another probable replacement…..

A review of business coverages – Part 2   Leave a comment

Workers Compensation

Injured at work? Work Comp is what you need!

Good afternoon one and all!  Today I’m going to give you a brief break down of one of the more straight-forward coverages for your business – Workers Compensation.  To put it simply, Workers Compensation is in place to pay for expenses due to a work related injury, illness, or death.  In addition, it will also replace any income lost if an employee is not able to work due to any of those three things.

Virtually every employer (and employee thereof) is required to partake in Workers Compensation in the state of Pennsylvania (I won’t be covering any information for any other states).  It can be purchased by any business in the state – whether through a private company or The State Workers’ Insurance Fund or SWIF.  Coverage is written on an annual basis, and is rated based on annual payroll amounts.

Payroll is divided into class codes based upon the type of work that employees perform.  When you first write a policy, the class code is initially determined by your agent, and will be confirmed by the PA Rating Compensation Bureau or PCRB.  Final determination will be made by the PCRB and will be enforced upon all insurance companies, including SWIF.  You can always appeal the class code(s) assigned to your business.

Each class code has a rate, as determined by base rates each company files with the state.  Simply put, your WC premium is determined by multiplying your payroll amount (divided by 100) times the applicable rate, and then adding in the PA Employer Assessment (which functions similar to a tax).  If you write your coverage through any company other than SWIF, you will also pay a flat Expense Constant.

At the end of each policy term, your policy will be audited – either by your insurance company or an independent auditor hired by your company.  Not every company audits every year, but most do.  Audits, especially for small businesses, are typically a short form that’s mailed to you to complete and return.  The audit is used to determine the actual payroll for the prior policy term (not calendar or business year), and typically requires W2 or other tax form verification.  Occassionally, an auditor will actually come to your business to review your information, but it is still often a simple process.

I feel like I’ve bored you enough.  Work Comp is generally a very dry, straight forward coverage to discuss.  I hope that you stayed awake, and if you have additional questions on how it works, PLEASE feel free to call or email us!

PS – we are running a contest on Facebook.  Every person who likes my page in the month of February is entered into a drawing to win a $100 gift card to either Darden Restaurants or Big Burrito Group.  Already liked my page?  NOT TO WORRY!  For every person that you refer to my page, you are entered to win a $50 gift card to the same!  (everyone can “enter” to win this card – new and old “likers”)  If they are picked as the winner for the $100 gift card, and you referred them, then YOU WIN the $50 card!  Need another link, in case you missed the first one?   Here’s another one…  LINK   or was it LINK

Anyway, have a good day, and don’t hurt yourself!

Pittsburgh!

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with Workers Compensation. But I love our city. And you’re probably tired of hearing about WC

A review of business coverages – Part 1   Leave a comment

Insurance confusion

Feeling down because you don’t understand your business insurance? The Dog Blog is here to help!

Today is the first part of a series reviewing various business insurance coverages.  Insurance companies will handle the various coverages differently, but some generalities can be made.  Many companies often use standardized forms provided by the Insurance Services Office, but certainly not all do.  Today’s coverages we will review are the Commercial Package Policy and Business Owners Policy.

The Commercial Package Policy (CPP) in its simplest form is the combination of two business coverages – most commonly general liability and commercial propertyThe CPP can be written a la carte to include a variety of different coverages, but is almost always written with GL & property.  General Liability protects business owners from a wide variety of legal exposures, such as a customer getting injured at their location, damages due to a product failure (although the actual product itself is typically NOT covered), or a wide variety of other lawsuits.  Commercial Property protects business owners against a loss to their building, contents & furnishings, inventory, or other goods.   The CPP can also include things like tool coverage, equipment breakdown, professional liability, auto, and crime – it can be built “from scratch” to meet your needs specifically, and is often used for larger or more complex businesses.

The Business Owners Policy (BOP) is a package that automatically includes a variety of coverages to provide a more efficient and competitive method of insuring a business.  The package includes general liability, commercial property, business income protection, and often also includes a variety of coverage enhancements.  Business Income coverage replaces lost income when business operations are interrupted due to a covered property loss.  For example, if there is a fire at a retail store and they cannot operate for 3 months, the income lost for those 3 months is replaced by the insurance company. 

The BOP is meant to streamline coverage for less complex businesses such as small retail operations or a medical or professional office (but the BOP does NOT offer malpractice coverage!).  If a BOP is available, it is often going to be more competitively priced than it would be to try to piece together similar coverages via a CPP. 

As I mentioned previously, each insurance company is going to handle coverages differently, and ultimately if you have questions you should call your agent Thanks for tuning in!

A defense for the insurance industry…. based on my own experience   Leave a comment

I wrote this blog on the day that the incident occurred.  I decided to wait a few weeks and give myself time to cool down so I wouldn’t be posting in anger.  Nearly a month after the fact, I’m keeping it intact, as it’s mostly not about anger so much as it is informative about what’s going on out there.  On with the show:

Hello estranged readers!  (all 3 of you)

I’m going to describe an incident in my life today, to defend my industry.  I’m going to eliminate many of the identifying details; the situation is on-going.  However, I think the lesson it holds is an important one.

Very simply, one of my vehicles is in a repair situation that normally would be resolved via the insurance company.  It is, however, being paid out of pocket by the party responsible.  To make a long story short, I was told by the garage that I am being charged a higher rate for my repair.

When I asked why, I was told “Because the insurance companies will pay the higher rate.” 

“How is this a defense of the insurance industry?!  They are paying higher rates than necessary when they could negotiate reductions in cost!”  you might ask.

“While that may be accurate on the surface, there are some factors at play that make that not necessarily correct.”  Sammy would rebut.

To make it as straight forward as possible – the increased cost that’s being charged is lower than cost of negotiating the correct amount.  If an insurance company were to take the time and manpower necessary to haggle for better prices, they would pay more for the hourly pay/salary of their employee than the increased cost of repair – in my case, about $75 total.  It may not seem like much, and in my case, it’s not.  But when you multiply that by hundreds of cases a month (see “A form of insurance fraud” at bottom), every month of the year, well, you can see how it adds up.

One very important point needs made – not every repair shop operates in this fashion.  I was not aware this was going to be the case in my situation, or I would not have gone to the garage that I did.  Now, I’m stuck overpaying (albeit slightly), but I’m aware that it happens, and I’m aware that I need to be more wary of where I go to get repairs done.

Most importantly, I want you all to be aware that in a world of rising insurance costs, it’s not simply a case of the insurance company raking you over the coals.  Insurance companies are being nickel and dimed in this fashion quite often, and there is no simple solution to the problem.  To be blunt, some repair firms will take advantage of this situation, and that results in all of us paying higher rates for insurance.

And to the shop in question, Sammy only has one thing to say:

**Pbbbbbb**

**Pbbbbbb!**

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