VOLUME 1 AUG 2011
ASSURANCE HOW TO SETTING UP
Do I Need
RRRRRR CCC IIIIIIIIII
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
FROM THE EDITOR
THOUGHTFUL NOTE ABOUT APPLICABLE RELATED MATTERS
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CONTENTS DEPARTMENTS Insurance P. 08
Identity Theft Insurance
Long Term Care Insurance
Six Ways To Corral Runaway Medical Costs
10 Costly Return To Work Mistakes
Lifestyle P. 01
Is It Time To Work For Yourself?
Setting Up Your Home-based Business
Technology P. 01
ON THE COVER
Properly insuring a rental car can be confusing, frustrating and downright daunting.
Health P. 01
Do I need Rental Car Insurance?
We can help!
Feeling Better, Naturally
Family P. 01
Spring Tornadoes Are Generally the Most Severe... Make sure youâ€™re insured! THE GOOD NEWS: Wind related damage Is covered under standard homeowners and business policies
DO I NEED
INSURING A RENTAL CAR CAN BE CONFUSING, FRUSTRATING AND DOWNRIGHT DAUNTING.
Unfortunately, many consumers do not even think about car rental insurance until they get to the counter, which can result in costly mistakesâ€”either wasting money by purchasing unnecessary coverage or having dangerous gaps in coverage.
be covered if your rental car is stolen or damaged in an accident.
Before renting a car, the I.I.I. suggests that you make two phone callsâ€”one to your insurance agent or company representative and another to the credit card company you will be using to pay for the rental car.
Check to see whether your insurance company pays for administrative fees, loss of use or towing charges. Some companies may provide an insurance rider to cover some of these costs, which would make it less expensive than purchasing coverage through the rental car company. Keep in mind, however, that in most states diminished value is not covered by insurers.
CREDIT CARD COMPANY
Find out how much coverage you currently have on your own car. In most cases, whatever coverage and deductibles you have on your own car would apply when you rent a car, providing you are using the car for recreation and not for business. If you have dropped either comprehensive or collision on your own car as a way to reduce costs, you will not
Insurance benefits offered by credit card companies differ by both the company and/or the bank that issues the card, as well as by the level of credit card used. For instance, a platinum card may offer more insurance coverage than a gold card. Credit cards usually cover only damage to or loss of the
CONTINUED rented vehicle, not for other cars, personal belongings or the property of others. There may be no personal liability coverage for bodily injury or death claims. Some credit card companies will provide coverage for towing, but many may not provide for diminished value or administrative fees. Some credit card companies have changed their policies, too, so you may not have as much coverage as you thought. To know exactly what type of insurance you have, call the toll-free number on the back of the card you will be using to rent the car. If you are depending on a credit card for insurance protection, ask the credit card company or bank to send you their coverage information in writing. In most cases, credit card benefits are secondary to either your personal insurance protection or the insurance offered by the rental car company. If you have more than one credit card, consider calling each one to see which offers the best insurance protection.
AT THE RENTAL CAR COUNTER
Since insurance is state regulated, the cost and coverage will vary from state to state. Consumers, however, can generally choose from the following coverages:
LOSS DAMAGE WAIVER (LDW)
Also referred to as a collision damage waiver outside the U.S., an LDW is not technically an insurance product. LDWs do, however, relieve or “waive” renters of financial responsibility if their rental car is damaged or stolen. In most cases, waivers also provide coverage for “loss of use,” in the event the rental car company charges the renter for the time a damaged car can not be used because it is being fixed. It may also cover tow-
ing and administrative fees. Waivers, however, may become void if the accident was caused by speeding, driving on unpaved roads or driving while intoxicated. If you already have comprehensive and collision coverage on your own car, check with your personal auto insurer to make sure you are not duplicating coverage you already have. Should you decide it is necessary, this coverage generally costs between $9 and $19 a day.
By law, rental companies must provide the state required amount of liability insurance. Generally, these amounts are low and do not provide much protection. If you have adequate amounts of liability protection on your own car, you may consider forgoing additional liability protection. If you want the supplemental insurance, it will cost between $7 and $14 a day. An umbrella liability policy, however, may be more cost-effective. Umbrella liability insurance is so named because it acts like an umbrella, sitting on top of your auto and homeowners (or renters) liability policies to provide extra protection including accidents while driving your own car or one that you rent. These policies, usually sold in increments of a million dollars, cost as little as $200 to $300 annually for a million dollars worth of coverage and another $50 to $100 for each additional million. Those who do not own their own car and are frequent car renters, can also consider purchasing a non-owner liability policy. This not only provides liability protection when you rent a car, but also when you borrow someone else’s car.
PERSONAL ACCIDENT INSURANCE
Personal Accident Insurance offers coverage to you and your passengers for medical and ambulance bills for injuries caused in a car crash. If you have adequate health insurance or are covered by personal injury protection under your own car insurance, you may not need this additional insurance. It usually costs about $1 to $5 a day.
PERSONAL EFFECTS COVERAGE
Personal Effects Coverage provides insurance protection for the theft of items in your car. If you have a homeowners or renters insurance policy that includes off-premises theft coverage, you are generally covered for theft of your belongings away from home, minus the deductible. If you purchase this coverage through the rental car company, it generally costs between $1 and $4 a day. If you frequently travel with expensive items such as jewelry, cameras, musical equipment or sports equipment, it may be more cost-effective to purchase a personal articles floater under your homeowners or renters insurance policy. With such a floater, your valuable items are protected at home as well as while traveling anywhere in the world and the coverage is broader.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
States have minimum age requirements for renting a car and most major rental car companies refuse to rent a car to someone who is under 21 and in some cases under 25. In addition, some rental car companies now investigate your driving record and/or credit history so check with the rental car company before picking up the car.
If you are planning to rent a car abroad, contact both your insurance agent and travel agent to find out what you need to do to be properly insured. Those driving a rental car from the U.S. into Mexico may find it progressively more difficult to rent a car as U.S. rental car companies are increasingly concerned about the rising crime rates in that country. The minimum required insurance coverage to drive in Mexico is civil liability insurance which covers you in case you cause injury or damage. Your American liability insurance is not valid in Mexico for bodily injury, though some American insurance policies will cover you for physical damageâ€”check with your agent or insurance company representative. You can also buy Mexican car insurance in several American border towns; there are generally several storefronts selling Mexican car insurance near the border. Note: If youâ€™re renting a car abroad, you may need an international drivers license.
SPRING TORNADOES ARE GENERALLY THE MOST SEVERE
MAKE SURE YOU’RE INSURED
WIND RELATED DAMAGE IS COVERED
UNDER STANDARD HOMEOWNERS & BUSINESS POLICIES
he tornadoes that swept through the Midwest, the Great Plains states and the South over the past two weekends are a vivid reminder of the threat these windstorms pose to life and property, and the importance of having the right coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). Tornado season in the U.S. generally runs from April through July, but those that form in the spring tend to be more severe. Twisters often cause the most damage and loss of life in the densely populated southeastern states, and in the Great Plains states. “The recent devastation, spread across multiple states, demonstrates the need for everyone to prepare for severe weather events,” said Michael Barry, vice president of Media Relations for the I.I.I. “No matter where you live, you need to have the right amount, and type, of insurance in order to recover financially after a natural disaster.” A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground, and they can occur in almost every U.S. state. Although individual tornadoes are generally not as costly as hurricanes in terms of insured losses because they strike a more limited geographic area, they do occur more frequently. About 1,200 tornadoes, with gusts of wind as high as 200 miles per hour, develop each year in the U.S. Tornado intensity is measured by the Fujita scale, which runs from 1 through 5, the higher number being the strongest. The scale is based on the maximum speed of three-second wind gusts. The tornado that hit Mapleton, Iowa on Saturday, April 9 damaged a substantial number of homes and businesses in that community. Meanwhile,
Merrill, Wisconsin, was hit by another tornado the next day, and also incurred extensive property damage. Three tornado related injuries were reported in central Wisconsin. At least three barns and one mobile home were adversely impacted by heavy winds in southeastern Minnesota on Sunday afternoon, April 10, as well, according to news accounts. The 10 states that saw the most tornadoes last year, in order of frequency, were Minnesota (145), Texas (105), Mississippi (100), Kansas (94), Oklahoma (84), Missouri (80), North Dakota (68), Wisconsin (68), Colorado (66), and Illinois (65). The number of U.S. tornadoes, and the fatalities they caused, rose in 2010 as compared with 2009. The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, reports that there were 1,282 tornadoes in the U.S. in 2010, up from 1,156 in 2009. Moreover, tornado related fatalities reached 45 in 2010 up from 21 deaths in 2009.
HAVING SUFFICIENT COVERAGE
Standard homeowners and business insurance policies cover wind damage, including that caused by tornadoes, to the structure of the building and its contents. However, you should make sure your coverage limits reflect the cost of rebuilding the structure, and of fully replacing your personal belongings. Homeowners insurance policies also provide for additional living expenses (ALE). ALE coverage pays the costs of living away from home if you cannot inhabit your house due to damage from an insured disaster. The policy’s ALE provision covers hotel bills, restaurant meals and other living expenses incurred while your home is being repaired or rebuilt.
If you own a business that has been damaged, business income (also known as business interruption) insurance, covers the profits your business would have earned, based on your own financial records, had the disaster not occurred. This also covers additional operating expenses incurred as a result of the disaster, such as the extra expenses involved in operating out of a temporary location. Damage to cars from a tornado is covered under the optional comprehensive portion of a standard auto insurance policy. The I.I.I. offers the following tips for preparing for, and dealing with, a tornado.
BEFORE A TORNADO
If a tornado watch has been issued, move cars inside a garage or carport to avoid damage from hail, which often accompanies tornadoes. Keep your car keys and house keys with you at all times. Move lawn furniture and yard equipment, such as lawnmowers, inside. Aside from being damaged themselves, such items can also act as dangerous projectiles, causing serious harm to nearby people and property. A tornado watch means that weather conditions are favorable for tornadoes and a tornado warning means one has been spotted in your area. Be sure to always have an up-to-date inventory of your possessions and store it in a safe place, with at least one copy off the premisesâ€”in a safe deposit box, or with an online storage service. To help with this task, the I.I.I.â€™s free online home inventory software is available at KnowYourStuff.org. In addition, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) has information on How to Reduce Risks from a Tornado and the Federal Emergency Management Administration has compiled a brochure on pre-tornado planning, Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business.
DURING A TORNADO
Do not open windows as you will put yourself at risk of injury from breaking glass. You also may make the damage to your home worse by giving wind and rain a greater chance of getting inside.
If you are in your car, abandon your vehicle and seek shelter in the nearest ditch if no other facility is available. Do not get under a bridge or overpass. You are safer in a low, flat location. If you live in a mobile home, you should vacate the premises and seek shelter elsewhere.
AFTER A TORNADO
The I.I.I. offers the following advice to speed the insurance claims settlement process following a tornado: Be prepared to give your agent or insurance company representative a detailed description of the damage to your property. Your agent will report the loss to your insurance company or to a qualified adjuster who will contact you as soon as possible in order to arrange an inspection of the site. If it is safe to access the area, take photographs of the damaged property. Visual documentation will help with the claims process and can assist the adjuster in the investigation. Prepare a detailed inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property. Make two copiesâ€”one for yourself and one for the adjuster. Your list should be as complete as possible, including a description of the items, dates of purchase or approximate age, cost at time of purchase and estimated replacement cost. Collect canceled checks, invoices, receipts or other papers that will assist the adjuster in obtaining the value of the destroyed property. Make whatever temporary repairs you can. Cover broken windows and damaged roofs and walls to prevent further destruction. Save the receipts for any supplies and materials you purchase as your insurance company will reimburse you for reasonable expenses in making temporary repairs. Secure a detailed estimate for permanent repairs to your home or business from a licensed contractor and give it to the adjuster. The estimate should contain the proposed repairs, repair costs and replacement prices. If your home is severely damaged and you need to find other accommodations while repairs are being made, keep a record of all expenses, such as hotel and restaurant receipts.
IDENTITY THEFT INSURANCE A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) survey from 2007 showed that 8.3 million American adults, or 3.7% of all American adults, were victims of identity theft in 2005, and that number is rising. In at least half of the incidents, thieves obtained goods or services worth $500 or less; however in 10 percent of cases, thieves got at least $6,000 worth of goods or services. Fifty-six percent of all victims were unable to provide any information on how their personal information was stolen. Identity thieves use personal information to impersonate a victim, stealing from bank accounts, establishing phony insurance policies, opening unauthorized credit cards or obtaining unauthorized bank loans.
schemes use electronic means, including online scams like “phishing,” while others might use more old-fashioned methods, such as “dumpster diving”—rooting around in people’s garbage to collect financial information. As online shopping becomes increasing popular, it can also pose an identity risk. The advent of “no-swipe” credit cards that transmit account and user information through radio frequency identification may make it possible, in some cases, for identity thieves to use a simple electronic device to capture the information.
Statistics from the 2009 Identity Fraud Survey by Javelin Research noted that 43 percent of identity theft cases are in fact the result of a lost or stolen wallet, checkbook, credit card or other physical document.
Victims of identity theft are often left unable to use existing credit or obtain a new loan, harassed by debt collectors, are subjects of criminal investigations or civil suits and in some instances arrested.
Use of stolen credit card and debit card numbers is among the most common forms of identity theft. Some
Most home and renter policies provide coverage for theft of money or credit cards; however the amount of
coverage is limited (usually $200 in cash and $50 on credit cards – the amount consumers are usually responsible for with unauthorized use).
Some companies now include coverage for identity theft as part of their homeowners insurance policy. Others sell it as either a stand-alone policy or as an endorsement to a homeowners or renters insurance policy, which can run about $25-$50 annually. Identity theft insurance provides reimbursement to crime victims for the cost of restoring their identity and repairing credit reports. It generally covers expenses such as phone bills, lost wages, notary and certified mailing costs, and sometimes attorney fees (with prior consent of insurer). Some companies also offer restoration or resolution services that guide consumers through the process of recovering their identity.
TIPS FOR AVOIDING IDENTITY THEFT
1. Keep the amount of personal information in your purse or wallet to the bare minimum. Avoid carrying additional credit cards, your social security card or passport unless absolutely necessary. 2. Guard your credit card when making purchases. Shield your hand when using ATM machines or making long distance phone calls with phone cards. Don’t fall prey to “shoulder surfers” who may be nearby. 3. Always take credit card or ATM receipts. Don’t throw them into public trash containers, leave them on the counter or put them in your shopping bag where they can easily fall out or get stolen. 4. Don’t give out personal information. Whether on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet, don’t give out any personal information unless you have initiated the contact or are sure you know who you are dealing with and that they have a secure line. 5. Proceed with caution when shopping online. Use only authenticated websites to conduct business online.
Before submitting personal or financial information through a website, check for the locked padlock image on your browser’s status bar or look for “https://” (rather than http://) in your browser window. If you have any concerns about the authenticity of a Web page, contact the owner of the site to confirm the URL. 6. Be aware of phishing and pharming scams. In these scams, criminals use fake emails and websites to impersonate legitimate organizations. Exercise caution when opening emails and instant messages from unknown sources and never give out personal, financial or password related information via email. 7. Make sure you have firewall, anti-spyware and antivirus programs installed on your computer.These programs should always be up to date. 8. Monitor your accounts. Don’t rely on your credit card company or bank to alert you of suspicious activity. Carefully monitor your bank and credit card statements to make sure all transactions are accurate. If you suspect a problem, contact your credit card company or bank immediately. 9. Order a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus. A new law that took effect December 1, 2004, entitles you to one free credit report per year. Your credit report contains information on where you work and live, the credit accounts that have been opened in your name, how you pay your bills and whether you’ve been sued, arrested or filed for bankruptcy. Make sure it’s accurate and includes only those activities you’ve authorized. 10. Place passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, any part of your Social Security number or phone number, or any series of consecutive numbers. If you suspect a problem with your credit card, change your password. 11. Shred any documents containing personal information such as credit card numbers, bank statements, charge receipts or credit card applications, before disposing of them.
EACH YEAR, approximately 75,000 people are injured seriously enough by lawnmowers to require emergency room medical treatment.
Only a small percentage of the injuries are caused by mechanical failure; most are the result of human error. Here are some tips to follow before and while mowing your lawn:
1. BECOME FAMILIAR WITH YOUR MOWER
Read the ownerâ€™s manual before using the mower for the first time. Note all safety and operating instructions. Learn the controls well enough to act instantly in an emergency and to stop the machine quickly.
2. PROPER CLOTHING
Proper clothing is essential to protect your body from harm. Always wear non-slip shoes instead of tennis shoes or sandals. Steel-toe safety footwear offers the most protection against the blade. Long pants help protect your legs from objects that may be thrown from under the mower. Use ear plugs to prevent hearing loss caused by exposure to the high noise levels.
3. NEVER LEAVE A MOWER RUNNING UNATTENDED
A mower left running unattended can be fascinating to a child. If the mower has an electric start, the key should never be left in the ignition.
4. ALWAYS START THE MOWER OUTDOORS
Never operate a mower where carbon monoxide can collect, such as in a closed garage, storage shed or basement.
5. POLICE THE AREA
Before you satrt mowing, be sure the lawn is free of tree limbs, rocks, wires and other debris, which can get caught up in the blades.
6. THE MAIN SOURCE OF DANGER IS THE BLADE
To perform its task efficiently, the mower blade must be sharp and travel at a high speed. If a hand or foot gets under the mower while the engine is running, it can cause serious injury. Never attempt to unclog or work on a lawnmower while the engine is on.
7. DISCONNECT THE SPARKPLUG WIRE
Any time it is necessary to reach under the mower, disconnect the spark plug wire to insure that the engine cannot start. It takes a little extra time, but not as long as it does to recover from a serious injury.
8. CHECK FOR FRAYED OR CUT WIRING
When using an electric lawnmower, wires can easily get cut by the blade. Keep an eye on the wiring as you move the mower and check for frayed or cut wiring every time you mow.
ESSENTIAL MAINTENANCE TIPS
FOR YOUR COMPUTER
he computer is one of the most important inventions to have taken place in the 20th century, which has grown over several decades contributing to the growth and changes in human learning and behavior. Today the computer is an essential part of human life without which they cannot do their dayto-day tasks. This amazing machine has made life easier for most people and contributed to their overall growth. Today almost all household have at least one computer but the most important question that arises here is, if the owner is concerned about the proper maintenance of the machine or not. Most people either fail or forget to properly maintain their computer from both internal and external threats that can seriously jeopardize the functioning of the machine. However, with just a few important tips you can effectively maintain your computer and can keep its functioning as good as ever. Here are a few essential maintenance tips to keep your computer stable and in a perfect condition:
Perform a disk clean up for maintaining the speed of your computer. Running regular disk clean up can clean your system of unnecessary data.
This step can be done manually or by running the disk cleanup utility in Windows.
Running a registry cleaning software can relieve your system from obsolete and corrupt entries in the registry file. A clogged registry can severely hamper the performance of your system and can even cause it to crash. So, it is important to clean your Windows registry at regular intervals.
By using an Anti-Spyware program you can clean your system from malicious programs that intend to steal your data and cause your system to clog.
Viruses are one of the most common and serious threat to computers and using a good updated Anti-virus program will help your computer to rid itself from harmful viruses.
Lastly, you need to clear all un-important software installed on your computer as they cause a lot of trouble during the Windows startup process and make the process a rather clumsy one. By following these simple steps you can effectively shield your computer from all internal and external threats.