Archive for the ‘contractor insurance’ 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 – Home Owners (Part 1)   1 comment

dog blog

Sitting at home, blogging away!

Homeowners coverage.  Where to begin?  With your home, of course!  In this “installment,”  I’m going to review a couple things to keep in mind while reviewing or considering insuring your home – based on the assumption that you own, not rent.

The primary “concern” of homeowners is protecting the actual dwelling itself.  As there are quite a few formats to do this, I’m only going to cover the most common form, called an HO5 policy

Under an HO5 homeowners policy, the dwelling is covered for comprehensive perils at replacement cost valuation.

  • Comprehensive Perils – CP is actually easier to explain by starting with its counter-part, named perils.  A named perils policy means that only claims (causes of loss or perils) specifically named on the policy are covered – if it’s not listed, it’s not covered.  Comprehensive perils is the opposite – if a cause of loss is not specifically excluded, it’s covered.  Every company has its own list of excluded losses, but some common ones are flood, acts of war, intentional acts of the homeowner (arson, for example), and wear and tear (in other words, maintenance is typically NOT covered!).
  • Replacement Cost Valuation – RCV describes how payment for a loss will be made.  When you carry RCV coverage, a loss will be paid out based on the true cost to repair or replace damaged goods (less your deductible).  Actual Cash Value, by contrast, pays based on the cost to repair or replace MINUS depreciation (typically based on age and condition). 

Understanding RCV is what typically causes frustration.  The easiest way to understand how this works is by using an example.  If you have a fire in your home, and the kitchen is destroyed, RCV dictates that the insurance company pay the cost of restoring your kitchen (as closely as possible) to its original condition, REGARDLESS of the age of materials there.  In other words, your cabinets may be 15 years old, but an RCV policy pays for the cost of brand new cabinets (comparable – “like kind and quality”).

The replacement cost valuation of your home is commonly found by entering in the characteristics of your home into software designed for this purpose – how many square feet, how many stories, year built, updates, style, construction, etc etc.  A common source of confusion is that the RCV of your home is often greater than the market value of the house – this occurs because the cost to rebuild per square foot is almost always higher than the actual market value per square foot – but this works in your favor!  If a home policy were written based on market value, and you had the kitchen fire described above – guess what!  The cost to repair would not be paid in full: unless your kitchen were brand new, it’s virtually impossible that it’s market value would be anywhere close to what the replacement value is!

Contents Coverage – Another important component of your homeowners policy is contents, or personal property, coverage.  This is for the actual contents of your home – simply put, anything that’s not permanently attached.  So all of your clothing, furnishings, appliances/electronics, decorations, etc etc.  This is almost always calculated as a percentage of your building limit – 60, 70, and 80% are the most common levels. 

Something important to remember – if you have high-value, unique, antique, or difficult to replace items, it’s generally a good idea to schedule them on the policy.  Most policies have limitations or exclusions for these items that generally mean that you are only going to get a fraction of what they are actually worth.  In addition, by scheduling items, you can typically get minimal or zero dollar deductibles, which drastically reduces your out of pocket expense in the event of the loss.  The coverage tends to be more expensive than general contents (PP) coverage, but in the long run is far more beneficial!

Liability Coverage – The last of the major coverages I will review today is liability coverage, which covers damage or “injury” for others.  The most common example of a liability situation would be if a person (NOT a guest of yours, who are covered by “Medical Payments” coverage) were on your property, slipped and fell, and required you to pay for their injury and rehab costs.  This would be covered by the liability coverage on your policy.   Other examples of common liability claims would be if you happened to accidentally damaged someone else’s goods – knocking over the TV in their house, hitting a baseball through their picture window, etc.  It would also cover injuries caused if your dog bites someone.  Contact your agent if you have questions about what would and wouldn’t be covered by your liability coverage. 

A common situation that often causes consternation – what if your neighbor’s tree fell over onto your property and damaged your home?  Would that be covered by your neighbor’s liability coverage, or your dwelling coverage?  Everyone’s favorite answer:  That depends.  If the tree is long since dead and your neighbor has been negligent in removing it, then his liability policy would cover your damages.  HOWEVER, if the tree is still alive, and was simply blown over by the wind, or some other similar “unforeseeable” incident, then the damages would be paid out of your dwelling coverage (and subject to your deductible). 

Some other coverages to consider:  Loss of Use, Other Structures, Medical Payments, Inland Marine Floater (see Scheduled goods)

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Tuckered out after a long day of writing!

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 mish-mash of things leading up to Christmas!   3 comments

Hello and good morning faithful!

Not terribly much new going on in the local insurance world, and amazingly few things need to be addressed insurance-wise.

I do want to say that I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Years.  The dog and I will be going on vacation shortly (well, I’m going on vacation, the dog is going to *gasp* the kennel) and this will be my last post of 2012!  (for followers of the Mayan Calendar, I guess it’s my last post ever!).  We will be celebrating Christmas and New Years with some of my oldest and closest friends, and I hope that you have the opportunity to do the same!

I would like to say a little something in light of the events in Oregon and Connecticut.  There is very little that we can do to directly impact the lives of those involved with what happened, but there is a lot that we can do every day to impact the lives of those around us.  Be the good, be the light, and be the joy that people need to see every day.  Show people that there is a better way to live.  Show patience.  Love others.  Be caring and understanding.  Encourage those around you.  Show people that there IS good in the world.  As the world becomes a darker place, the only way to combat that is by adding more of your own light back in.

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.

Next year, I am going to re-double my efforts to show my gratitude and appreciation to first responders.  These people make sacrifices every day to ensure our comfort and safety – there is no such thing as doing “too much” to show them our appreciation – you never know whose life they saved today.

My first year with the Polesky Agency has ended on some very high notes!   We’ve had one of our best years ever, and were recently ranked by the home office as being in the top 10% of all Erie agents!  We’ve expanded the number and types of insurance companies we can place new policies with for both personal and commercial lines, allowing us to better serve our clients by offering them more options.  Our office remodeling job is nearly completed, and the new layout and look have been a smashing success!  We have dramatically expanded our social media presence – LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ – and are even the first listing now when you Google “Erie Insurance Moon Twp”! 

I would like to wrap up just by saying that I’m looking forward to a positive, productive, and prosperous 2013, and I hope that we can work together to protect the things you care about most!

All the best for 2013!

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