Auto Post Accident To Do Suggestions

Presented by Christopher F. Hawthorne, CPCU, CIC

It is frustrating to see a client’s auto carrier pay a claim to a third party based on false information.

An example being a client who had a car, with four people in it, pull in front of him and slam on their brakes. He stopped his vehicle but he did touch the other car. There was no visible damage to either car and no one was injured.  He exchanged information but did not call the police. He then filed the report of the accident in case a claim was made against him.

Soon after we received notice that five people were claiming to be injured and that the other car was totaled. The carrier paid $190,000 and stated without evidence and due to the fact it was a rear-end, they had to make the payment.   We see variations on this all too often.

To help avoid this situation, doing the following will put your insurance carrier in a better position to defend you and not pay false or inflated claims.

Once you have made sure you are safe, we suggest you:

  1. Do not admit fault, apologize or offer unsolicited information such as you were rushing or that you are very busy.
  2. Call the police with goal of having an official report filed to support your information. Request officer’s name and badge number.
  3. Obtain name and contact information of driver and the auto’s owner.
  4. Obtain the name of the other autos insurance carrier and policy number if possible.
  5. Get the name of all passengers in the other auto and note where they were sitting in the car.
  6. Obtain the names of any witnesses and their contact information.
  7. Ask police to ask each person if they are injured or if anything was damaged (EX; Musical Instruments).
  8. Get the year, make, model and license plate number of the other auto/s.
  9. Take pictures of your auto, the other auto, as well as, any surrounding aspects that might be useful such as a traffic sign that is shrouded by trees.
  10. If the weather is a factor, try to capture with picture and print out the weather report for that day.
  11. Record name and contact information of anyone in your auto.
  12. Complete an accident report and submit to Cleary Insurance as soon as possible.

If police are not called, do not leave until the other party had driven away.  We have seen situations where both parties agree that the police are not needed, one party departs and the other party then calls the police.

If police are called, do not leave the scene of the accident until the police arrive.  If you can no longer wait, do not leave without calling the police and getting permission. If you leave and the other party stays, you could be charged with leaving the scene of an accident.

If you would like an accident form to keep in your auto, please contact your Cleary representative.

By obtaining and recording the above information, you can put your insurance carrier is a stronger position to defend you and reduce or eliminate claim payments. As always, it takes a team effort!

Cleary Insurance Featured Speaker at The Boston Arts and Business Council’s Seminar

Pictured (L-R): BOSTON A&BC Operations Director Alexa Dearborn, President Jim Grace, Cleary’s Chris Hawthorne, Volunteer Lawyers Association Exec. Director Luke Blackadar.

Cleary Insurance was a featured speaker at the Boston Arts and Business Council’s Seminar for the National Arts Strategies Program. The NAS gathered in Boston to learn about business related topics for artists and art non-profits. Cleary’s Chris Hawthorne led a session on structuring insurance programs for Public Artists and non-profits.

Information Management Liability aka Cyber!

Presented by: Christopher F. Hawthorne, CPCU, CIC

Technology has delivered an exposure for those who hold, use or depend on information be it paper or electronic. Just as inventory once was the life line for a business, data and information now takes their place alongside the tangible assets of a business. This can be data in the form of client records, billing operations, employee files, websites and inventory management. When data or information is shutdown or stolen, it can represent a large loss. The loss can be both a first party loss (out of pocket) and a third-party loss (demanded by another) as well as trigger government action and penalties against the business.

First party losses are out of pocket expenses for a business such as rebuilding lost data, cost of forensic studies to determine what was lost, cost to restore systems and loss of income from business interruption.

In between first- and third-party losses are losses from extortion or ransom. A criminal may demand money to allow a computer system to released from any hold the criminal has on it or to stop a website from being overrun by an attack. While the cost is out of pocket it is caused by a third-party demand.

Third party losses arise when there is damage or loss of another’s data or private information, damage to their hardware or to their website.  The cost associated with third party losses are notifying parties of their lost or released information, credit monitoring, defending from law suits, and paying settlements.

In addition, governmental actions (fines and penalties) may arise on both state and Federal levels. It is worth noting, that Massachusetts has the toughest data privacy laws in the nation.

Neither Property nor General Liability insurance pays for these types of losses.

There are several carriers now offering coverage for this exposure and many provide hotlines and proactive risk management assistance. In addition to obtaining this coverage, it is worth reviewing your technical / system support vendor to make sure the job description includes “security and compliance” as opposed to simply having the technology function.

In summary, the Information Management Liability (Cyber) exposure requires the attention of every business from perspective of insurance protection and risk management mitigation. To fail to do so is to put the survival of the business at stake.

 

Photo by Pixabay

Budgeting, Discipline and Looking Ahead: Getting Started in Life Planning

 

Achieving your financial objectives has a lot to do with how well you plan for your family’s future. It’s important to begin this process sooner rather than later because the demands of work and a busy family life can force long-term planning onto your “to-do” list. Being ready for unexpected expenses and having a plan for your children’s futures also shouldn’t be delayed, because by the time you get around to them, you may have other financial commitments and too much debt to start saving.

Savings

Saving is fundamental to financial planning, and it’s still one of the best ways to protect yourself against financial emergencies. Budget carefully, purchase wisely and plan ahead so you’re well-positioned to grow your savings. Bear in mind that saving is about more than preparing for the future; these funds are also there to shield you from the financial damage that emergency home repairs, serious illness or job loss can cause, and from having to rely on credit cards and other high-interest options.

College savings

According to US News & World Report, annual public tuition will cost more than $40,000 by 2030, with a four-year degree totaling an expected $205,000. Those are daunting figures for someone who hasn’t set aside money for a child’s college fund. If you want to help your child achieve a degree so they can get a good job and succeed in life, consider starting a college 529 plan as soon as possible.

Retirement savings

For young couples, retirement is little more than a vague idea, something their grandparents talk about. It’s difficult to feel a sense of urgency when you’re looking at 30 to 40 more years of earning money and building a life. But if you enroll in a retirement plan at work and continue investing in a 401(k) and Roth IRAs, your retirement fund will continue to grow and be there for you when it’s needed.

Life insurance

Purchasing a death benefit for your family is one of the first steps in making sure your loved ones are protected should you die unexpectedly. Joint life insurance policies cover both spouses, but tend to be more expensive and may not be the best option for some families. A 30-year term life policy can be an excellent option for a young family because it’s there for you when it’s most needed (i.e. until the kids are out of college and your mortgage is paid off).

Estate planning

Estate planning is something that people often concern themselves with later in life, perhaps when retirement is within reach and estate plans need to be finalized. But there are fundamental aspects of estate planning that require your attention now because they come into play if you or your spouse die unexpectedly or become incapacitated.

When young couples prepare a will, it’s generally so they can name a guardian for their children, but a will also provides for the distribution of money, assets and property. A living will or advance directive, another aspect of estate planning, establishes your wishes concerning end-of-life care. For further information about life planning, consult a professional financial planner or estate planning expert.

When you’re young, life planning tends to be about financial basics, like saving money, establishing retirement and college funds, getting life insurance, and taking care of estate planning basics. Careful budgeting will make it easier to stick to a plan and build the kind of savings and college funds you’ll need later on, so stay disciplined and allow those seeds you planted to grow.

Courtesy of Pixabay.com

Summer Home Improvement Ideas

 

When you own a home, there are always chores and tasks on your “To Do” list.  Summer is the perfect time to attend to many outdoor projects and to plan ahead for others. And, if you can’t bear the thought of wasting precious outdoor time on home improvement endeavors, you can always hire someone to do them for you.
Improvements That Pay
It is always a good idea to focus on projects that add to the resale value of your home, such as adding a deck or a patio; installing a lawn sprinkler system; or landscaping your property.
Decks and patios can add visual interest to your property, while also providing you with an enjoyable living space. Sprinkler systems water your lawn evenly and allow you to dictate the timing, which can be handy during water advisories. They also prevent waste and lower water bills; homeowners usually use 50 percent more water on their lawns than necessary. Landscaping is an easy way to improve the look of your property.

Exterior Improvements

If your home already has a deck, summer is an ideal time to seal it and repaint or stain it. Sealing the deck helps to preserve the wood and protect it from weather damage, while painting or staining it give it a sharp, fresh look. If money is a concern, contact your local household hazardous waste program — there is often unopened paint available.

Paint, wherever you obtain it, is also handy for painting the exterior of your home. Paint spruces up your home, giving it a fresh, new look; but it also serves a practical function, protecting against moisture and ultraviolet rays.

While you’re eyeing the exterior of your home, consider a couple of other tasks that are much more practical in summer than winter:

Cleaning your eavestroughs and washing/and or replacing your windows.
Eavestroughs should actually be tended twice a year, and they’re not hard to do if you own a ladder. While you’re clearing away the leaves and debris, check for any cracks or leaks.

Focus On Your Windows

Looking out the windows at the flowers and greenery makes summer more of a pleasure, so make sure you can enjoy the view by cleaning your windows inside and out. If you choose to do it yourself, there are inexpensive cleaning solutions that give the glass a real sparkle:

A vinegar-water mixture or a few drops of dish soap in warm water.
While you’re washing your outdoor windows, consider applying caulk around the frames. Caulk keeps outdoor air from seeping in through potential cracks, lowering heating and cooling bills. It also prevents water from seeping into your walls to cause mildew and rot.
You can also give your windows a fresh, new look by replacing them. If you’re seeking better insulation or more sunlight, this is the time of year to invest.

Spruce Up The Grounds

When it comes to landscaping, one easy way to give your grounds a fresh look is to add mulch. Apply three to eight centimetres of mulch to your flower beds to give them a fresh, new look. At the same time, you’ll be helping to smother weeds and to hold moisture in, reducing the need for watering.

You can check with your local utility company or tree service to see if they offer wood chips or shredded bark for use as mulch; they often sell it cheaply.

Summer is also a good time to consider the shade available on your property and think about whether it’s adequate or not. It’s a perfect moment to plant trees that will provide cover in the future, but if you’re seeking relief from the sun right away, there are options: umbrellas, pergolas or covered porches. There’s no need to suffer in the hot sun if you prefer the shade.

Time For A New Driveway

Summer is the appropriate time to repave your driveway. You can choose asphalt or concrete; asphalt is less prone to cracks.  Summer is its season, because asphalt adheres better when it’s warm. With a shiny, new driveway surface, you’re less likely to experience potholes come winter!

Good luck with your projects and if you need insurance advise don’t forget to call your Cleary Insurance Account Executive for help!

Life Insurance and Your Newborn

Introducing the Driver Verification System

Presented by: Christopher F. Hawthorne, CPCU, CIC

A new tool has arrived to help business owners in reducing their Commercial Auto exposure risk.  A basic for any driver is to have a valid license. Privacy laws and a very cumbersome Registry of Motor Vehicles inquiry system have been hurdles for business owners trying to carefully monitor their employees that drive as part of their job.

To help achieve the goal of having a safe driving workforce, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles has introduced the Driver Verification System (DVS). The DVS allows a business to track changes to the license statuses of the business’s employees/drivers. Once a business has signed up for this no-cost program, the DVS will email the business owner a notification from the Mass DOT’s Registry of Motor Vehicles when there is a change in an employee’s license status such as the license being expired, suspended or revoked.

When an employee drives as part of their job, they may not inform the employer of a loss of license. The employer may learn of the lack of a valid license after a significant loss. The DVS puts the employer in the position of catching this situation immediately.

When notified, the business owner logs into their DVS account to view the driver/s that have a status change. The employer immediately is able to address the situation with the employee and take corrective action to protect the financial and reputational well-being of the business or organization.

Additionally, the DVS allows the business owner to then order driving records for any driver enrolled in the DVS program for the cost of $8 per Public record and $20 for a Personal record. (A public driving record excludes any not responsible, disqualified, and expired infractions or violations and also will exclude drug convictions (except for drug trafficking). A personal driving record is a complete history of the driver’s record including the excluded items above.)

The process for signing up for the DVS begins with:

  • Writing a letter on your business letterhead stating your business need for using the DVS Program. This need can be stated as the business’s desire to have another risk management tool to make sure the business is operating in the safest manner for the public’s benefit.
  •  Submitting an “Agreement for Access to Records and Data Maintained by the Registry of Motor Vehicles”
  •  Submitting an “RMV Business Partner Contact Form”
  •  Submitting an “eServices Administrator Form”

Commercial Auto is a significant risk to all organizations that use either the organization’s autos or the employees’ personal vehicles. In either case, the employer will be named in a suit if there is bodily injury and/or property damage to others if the loss occurred in the scope of the employer’s business activity, be it a delivery or a sales call. With the advent of this tool, it would be understandable that the courts and juries will expect all employers to know their driving employees have a valid driver’s license. Therefore, implementing the DVS is recommended.

Other risk management tools available to an employer to reduce the chance of loss or limit the size of a loss are:

  • Ordering a personal driving record for each driver annually.
  • Implementing GPS tracking on company vehicles. Utilizing a GPS has been shown to reduce auto loss significantly as well as moon lighting and fuel savings.
  • Distributing a company Driver Policy / Letter to all new employees and all employees annually. The policy will spell out the organization’s expectations for driving activity.
  • Creating a file for each driver that contains an annual driving policy letter, a copy of the driver personal record, a copy of the employee’s personal auto coverage selection page, any Incident Reports, and any disciplinary actions taken to improve the driver’s attention to safe driving.
  • Implementing an Accident Investigation Program to learn from each loss and to avoid repeating the loss in the future.
  • Implementing Driver Training for all new employees as well as an annual update for all employees.
  • Implementing a Vehicle Inspection Program where employees take the responsibility for periodically checking Tires, Wipers, Lights, etc. and documenting that they did so.

The auto loss exposure is prone both to frequency and severity. Time spent on the above risk management techniques can help reduce the odds of a loss or even the size of a loss. These efforts will pay dividends in low insurance premiums due to lower losses. For assistance with any of the above please contact us.

To begin the process of implementing a DVS, please go to: http://atlas.massrmv.com/DriverVerificationSystem.aspx.

Completed documentation and questions can be directed to Kristen.hagan@state.ma.us.