Old Bay Insurance Agency Blog & Resources in Annapolis, MD
We put value on education, and we believe the more our customers understand about the benefits of insurance, the more protected they’ll be when they need it. The blog and resource area of our website is a repository of our knowledge. If you have any questions it’s likely you can find some answers here. If not, don’t hesitate to call us.
Does Your Auto Policy Include Rental Car Insurance?
Written by Neal Tatterson on February 11th, 2014
It’s that time of year when people are escaping the cold and taking that much needed winter getaway vacation. If this is you and your family, you’re not the exception.
You arrive at your destination by plane and take a shuttle to the rental car area, so excited to be just minutes away from a sunny, warm vacation for the next seven days. After checking in at the rental car desk, the friendly customer service representative finds your reservation and explains that she has just a few questions to ask before you can be on your way.
She first asks if you’d like to purchase insurance for your rental car. Your options include a collision damage waiver, liability insurance, personal property insurance, and personal accident insurance.
This is where most people get stumped. You know that your personal vehicle back home is covered under an auto insurance policy which carries these very same coverages. But does your personal auto policy cover rental car insurance?
You are not alone in your confusion. In a survey conducted by The National Association of Insurance Commissioners or NAIC a few years ago, “Approximately 42 percent of respondents said they were either thoroughly confused or had only a rough idea about insurance coverage when renting a car.” Sadly, the survey also reported that, “34 percent of respondents said they purchased the rental company’s insurance just to make sure they were covered.”
So how can you avoid this confusion?
Call your insurance agent prior to your trip and find out to what extent your “non-business” rental car would be covered. Generally the same coverage and deductibles that you have on your personal auto insurance policy will extend to the use of your rental car. Always be sure to ask your agent if there are any circumstances that would limit your coverage. Some personal auto insurances may limit the length of time your personal insurance would cover you. Others may not cover your rental car in a foreign country. There may also be restrictions based on the type of vehicle you are renting, for example an exotic car or recreational vehicle (RV) would probably not be covered.
If in doubt, it is always advisable to go ahead and take the coverage that is being offered by the rental car company, but this coverage can be very expensive and can considerably increase the cost of your rental car.
Save yourself the money and call your agent today, or contact us at Old Bay Insurance to review this and any other of your insurance needs.
Separating Truth From Myth: What Exactly Does Commercial Auto Insurance Cover?
Written by Neal Tatterson on February 7th, 2014
From a business owner’s standpoint, understanding coverage of commercial auto insurance can be confusing. For instance, why should a business owner have commercial auto insurance if he or she is the only driver? Are employees covered after work hours? And are employees covered if they are driving a work vehicle, but they aren’t on company time? These are all legitimate questions, but first let’s explore the coverage associated with commercial auto insurance.
Reasons You May Need A Commercial Auto Policy
If any of the vehicles you or your employees drive carry equipment, supplies, or goods associated with your business, you should have commercial auto insurance.
Some businesses are centered around delivering people or products. If you are in the taxi cab business or delivery business commercial auto insurance can cover damage to persons or property whereas personal insurance will not.
If any of the vehicles your company uses are registered under the company name, you must carry commercial auto insurance.
Vehicles that weigh over 10,000 lbs and are used for business purposes must be covered by a commercial auto policy.
Whether you have one employee (yourself) or many, commercial auto insurance is always a good idea when using your vehicles to transport any business related items. Those that are self-employed are often under the misconception that their personal insurance will cover any damages related to an accident while using their car or truck for business. This is not the case. If you are using your personal vehicle for business use and are involved in an accident, your personal policy may not cover some or any of the damages.
Depending on your policy, there are different types of coverage that either come with or can be added to your commercial auto policy. For instance, non-owned auto insurance covers damages regarding an accident that may occur while an employee is using his or her own vehicle for a company task.
Commercial auto insurance is very flexible and can accommodate many different situations. If your employee uses a company car for both off the clock and on the clock activities, there are policies that will insure that the employee (or any other individuals within the employee’s household) is covered no matter when an accident occurred.
All commercial auto insurance is not created equal.
It is important to speak with an insurance agent who can custom tailor a commercial auto policy that will best suit your company’s needs. For more information, please contact the experts with Old Bay Insurance. Whatever policy your business needs, we will make sure you are covered.
Winter Storm Tips from Old Bay Insurance Agency
Written by Neal Tatterson on February 5th, 2014
It’s been a tough winter but we don’t seem to be out of the woods yet. Just when we get through one storm, another one is predicted to be right on its tail. At Old Bay Insurance, we care about your safety. The better prepared you are, the less chance there is of personal injury and property damage in case of power outages. Here are some winter storm tips so you’ll be better prepared for anything.
Power outages are prevalent during winter storms, sometimes lasting for days at a time. Make sure that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries, and stock up on extra batteries for those flashlights and radios, too. It is also advisable to keep your cell phones completely charged and save at least one for emergency purposes.
Roads may not be passable during heavy winter storms. It is advisable to keep on hand at least one week’s worth of prescription medications, fresh water, as well as canned and other non-perishable foods that don’t require heating. Also, make sure you don’t forget a manual can opener.
Freeze a few jugs of water if you have room in your freezer. These will come in handy in keeping food from spoiling in your refrigerator and slow food from defrosting in the freezer. Perishable food can also be stored outside in a cooler on the deck or in the garage.
If you are fortunate enough to own a portable generator, makes sure to have enough gas on hand to last for several days and remember – never, NEVER run a generator indoors or in other enclosed areas. Portable generators give off a colorless and odorless carbon monoxide gas which is deadly. Take precautions to protect your generator from rain and snow when in use, as they produce powerful voltage and should never be operated under wet conditions. It is also important to remember that fuel spills on a hot generator can cause an explosion. Always make sure your generator cools before refueling. It is extremely important to follow all the manufacturers operating instructions to assure your safety.
When using kerosene heaters indoors, be sure to open a window or two at least several inches to properly vent the room, as these heaters also produce a deadly carbon monoxide gas and only refuel the unit outdoors after it has completely cooled. Always place kerosene heaters several feet away from furniture and other flammable material when in use and follow all manufacturers safety instructions. Only operate space heaters in attended areas protected by smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
When using fireplaces and wood burning stoves to heat your home, take care to always keep a screen in front of an open flame and make sure that the damper is completely open before starting any fire.Once started, never leave a fire unattended. Please don’t use any flammable liquids to start a fire as fires can quickly burn out of control. Starter logs and newspaper are far safer for this purpose. It is advisable to keep the flue open overnight after a fire as hot coals can sometimes take as much as 24 hours to cool. Dispose of ashes outdoors in a covered metal container several feet away from the house or other flammable material.
If you lose power, be sure to turn each faucet on slightly so it drips slowly. In areas where there is no temporary heat, make sure that you wrap pipes in insulation or at the very least, some old newspapers and then wrap in plastic. This will help to prevent pipes from freezing. If a pipe does freeze, open all of your faucets completely and place a portable heater in the room, or if you have access to portable power, a hair dryer can also come in handy to defrost a frozen pipe. If a pipe were to burst, always know where the main water cutoff valve is located.
Be sure to inspect the outside of your home for downed trees and power lines and report any downed wires to your electric company.
You can find additional safety and emergency preparedness information for winter storms and extreme cold online at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Make sure your property is adequately protected against storm related losses.
On Rainy Days, Are you Carrying Your Umbrella Coverage?
Written by Neal Tatterson on January 30th, 2014
Most of us understand the importance of auto, renters and homeowners insurance, along with the liability coverage that they carry. But what happens when this is just not enough? We all know that accidents happen, and in many cases claims are fully covered by these types of insurances, but what if they aren’t? That’s when it pays to “carry your umbrella.”
What is Umbrella Coverage?
There are two areas of concern when dealing with liability insurance. The first involves the amount of coverage and the second encompasses the scope of the coverage. Umbrella insurance fills the gap left by these other policies in the case of claims resulting in large settlements. It can step in where other policies have limitations or where a liability is in excess of your current policy’s limits.
If you, as the insured are considered liable for something that occurred on your personal property that resulted in a claim beyond the liability coverage of your homeowners insurance, the umbrella coverage can step in and cover the gap, up to the limit of the umbrella policy.
If you consider all the things that liability coverage pay for: medical bills, rehabilitative therapies, and lost wages for the injured as well as the legal defense for the insured; you will understand how quickly and easily a normal policy’s limits can be reached in the case of serious accidents.Forbes.com reports that liability coverage in home and auto policies rarely exceeds $500,000, yet 13% of personal injury liability awards and settlements are $1 million or more, according to the report citing data from Jury Verdict Research.
An umbrella coverage policy can also be beneficial in providing coverage where limitations on personal liability policies exclude in the case of certain claims. For example, homeowners insurance policies typically will not cover false arrest, libel and slander, or invasion of privacy, but the umbrella policy commonly, will.
So why not just increase the liability limits on my current policies?
It is always an option to increase the underlying coverage limits for your personal liability insurances, but it can often times be much more costly to do so, and then you’d have to do this for all of your liability policies. Umbrella policies are relatively inexpensive in comparison and one policy can provide broad coverage for all of your personal liability insurances. At a minimum it is recommended that you carry an umbrella policy equal to your current net worth, but in cases where net worth exceeds typical amounts, that recommendation could be higher.
Contact us to learn more about Umbrella coverage. Certain requirements can apply to underlying coverage limits as well as other restrictions. We here at Old Bay Insurance can help you decide just what amount of extra coverage you need to protect what you’ve worked so hard to attain.
Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers: Why Using an Insurance ELP Gives You Better Choices
Written by Neal Tatterson on January 29th, 2014
If you’re not familiar with financial guru Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers (ELP’s) concept, you’re missing out on an assurance of trust when dealing with businesses offering financial, real estate and insurance products. In the world of insurance, it can be a happy advantage to customers because they’ll know the agency they’re going through is committed to excellence in customer service.
But that’s not all. In order to appreciate what this endorsement means to the consumer shopping for insurance, it’s helpful to understand just how ELP’s earn this designation.
How Does an Insurance Agency Become an ELP?
Through Dave Ramsey’s program, only certain businesses that pass the tough interview process and ongoing monthly evaluations, are considered. And while the business does pay a fee to cover website maintenance and to handle employment costs, an ELP is not a designation that can be bought. The bar is raised very high on expectations when dealing with customers.
Ramsey’s team emphasizes that each Endorsed Local Provider plays the role of a teacher that can help explain complex concepts easily so the customer understands them. That can be so crucial for a customer making important financial decisions when purchasing insurance to protect themselves and their property, as many of the concepts can be somewhat confusing.
Above all, though, an ELP insurance agency puts the clients’s needs first. As an independent insurance agent, a client is assured that they won’t overpay for insurance as their agent is able to shop multiple companies to find just the right insurance product at the best possible price.
Your Trusted Insurance Agency
Here at Old Bay Insurance, we’re proud to announce that we’re now one of Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers. You can come to us and expect to receive not only superior customer service, but also be given a wider selection of insurance options. With our independence, we won’t be selling insurance under pressure from a company that may be selling less than superior coverage. We let you choose your insurance while our role is to educate you as to which policy is really right for you.
We believe Dave Ramsey’s ELP concept is very worthwhile for the insurance industry and here at Old Bay Insurance, we take pride in this endorsement and are committed to being an insurance agency that you can trust.
Contact us so we can work with you to find the insurance you need for your life, property, or vehicles. We represent the state of Maryland and the hardworking people here who deserve the very best insurance.
Business Insurance: Cover your Assets
Written by Neal Tatterson on January 24th, 2014
Superstorm Sandy left a lot of devastation in its wake, both physically and emotionally. Economically, many business owners took serious hits once all the damage and destruction was assessed. Many also filed their insurance claims which helped them to begin the process of rebuilding. Those who did not have adequate business insurance were left with nothing but a handful of “could’ve, would’ve, should’ve” regrets.
Business insurance should not be considered optional if you have, or plan to have, a business. Even if you live nowhere near a hurricane zone, the fact is that there is NO place in the United States that is not prone to some sort of disaster, be it natural or man-made.
In general, you need to have some kind of comprehensive plan tailored to the nature of your business. There are many different types of policies to help protect what you have worked so hard to build. What follows is a brief description of each type of business insurance and the protection that each provides.
General liability insurance protects you in the case of a lawsuit claiming negligence on your part or the part of one of your employees, related to business activities. This coverage also protect you in the case of any injury to a visitor on your premises and any claims against a business for property damage. It also covers you against claims of false or misleading advertising, slander, or libel.
Product liability coverage is strongly recommended if your business produces a product that winds up causing harm to someone. For example, if you sell a food product that causes someone to fall ill from food poisoning caused by your negligence (use of expired ingredients, improperly refrigerated ingredients, etc.), your coverage would pay for the damages.
Professional liability coverage is what they’re speaking about when you hear the phrase “malpractice insurance”. If your business provides a service, this insurance is a must-have. This coverage is commonly carried by lawyers and physicians, however, any kind of service business should be concerned with protecting itself from a situation involving a bad diagnoses (which can apply to anything from car repairs to doctor’s visits) or errors and omissions in drawing up contracts and other legal forms.
Commercial property insurance is a no-brainer for any business. Fire damages, floods, earthquakes, civil unrest (such as the reaction to the Rodney King verdict or the unruly way some sports fans behave when their team wins…) as well as damages caused by other outside events, can utterly destroy a business. Without insurance, even something as relatively minor as a car crash that damages the front of your shop can be an overwhelming financial burden to a business, not to mention the cost of any interruption in business while repairs are being made.
Auto insurance for your company owned vehicles should always be separate from your personal auto insurance policy. Auto insurance for your business vehicles will cover you in the event of accidents involving your employees, as well offer protection if your vehicle is vandalized or stolen.
Liability coverage will protect you if your vehicle was the cause of damages or injuries to others. It’s best to to speak with an agent to see what coverage will best protect you and your business from these unforeseen circumstances.
It’s not worth the risk to be without some kind of business insurance policy. Contact Old Bay Insurance to see what sort of protection we can offer you.
Wishing all local businesses a great start in 2014.