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Insurance Tips

Ten Strategies For Saving Money On Auto Insurance Premiums
What to Do If You're Involved In a Car Crash
Home Security Hints
How to Fight a Fire Before It Starts
What to Do In Case of Fire
How to Help Reduce Insurance Fraud
Post Windstorm & Claim Filing Checklist


  1. Buy wisely. Before you purchase a car, find out how expensive it will be to insure. The price can vary significantly depending on the make and model and whether the car contains safety features. Premiums tend to be higher for automobiles that are costly to repair, that are frequently stolen, or that offer passengers less crash protection.
  2. Shop around. Because auto insurers charge such a broad range of prices, it's worth calling several companies to compare prices before purchasing or renewing a policy.
  3. Opt for higher deductibles. A deductible is the amount of money you contribute before the insurance company begins to pay. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium.
  4. Carpool or use mass transportation. Commuters who share driving responsibilities to and from work may qualify for insurance discounts. If you stop using your car to drive to work or for commercial purposes, apply for a pleasure rate, which is considerably cheaper than basic auto coverage.
  5. Install anti-theft devices. Most insurance companies offer a discount on the comprehensive coverage portion of the insurance policy for cars equipped with a hood lock, alarm, fuel cut-off, ignition or starter cut off, steering wheel collar or a transmitter that lets police locate your car.
  6. Find out about passive restraint discounts. Automatic seat belts and/or air bags can mean discounts on bodily injury and personal injury protection coverage.
  7. Investigate anti-lock braking discounts. Some insurance companies offer significant discounts for cars equipped with four-wheel, anti-lock braking systems.
  8. Inquire about multiple-automobile discounts. If two or more private passenger vehicles owned by family members in one household are insured with the same insurer, the insurance company may offer a 10% to 15% premium reduction for each vehicle.
  9. Update your insurance regularly. Policyholders may see premium reductions if their use of a car has changed, if there is a change in the principal driver of the car or if the number of miles driven decreases.
  10. Drive safely. The best way to keep your insurance premiums down is to maintain a good driving record.

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What if you can't avoid an accident? If you are Involved in one of the nearly 34 million accidents that occur annually, here are a few reminders that will help you:

  1. Stop the car and get help if anyone is injured. If possible, ask a bystander to call the police and report the accident. If people are injured, the police will call for medical help.
  2. Protect the accident scene from further chaos. Set up flares or turn on flashing lights to warn other motorists.
  3. Write down the names, addresses and phone numbers of witnesses and those involved in the accident. Also, take down the license plate numbers, insurance information, and the makes and models of the vehicles.
  4. DO NOT discuss the accident with anyone involved in it I or admit that you think you were at fault. Traffic laws vary from one jurisdiction to another, and you may not be at fault.
  5. Take photos, if you have a camera, to provide documentation. Make notes about the time of day, the weather, road conditions, and how the accident took place.
  6. Provide any information the police may request. Find out where to obtain a copy of the accident report the police will file, and write down the badge numbers and names of any emergency personnel.
  7. Call your insurance agent immediately, and follow your agent's instructions.

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  1. Notify dependable neighbors and the police that you will be going away on vacation. Have a neighbor or friend pick up the mail and newspapers while you are gone.
  2. Never leave your keys in obvious places, such as under doormats or in mailboxes.
  3. Prepare in advance for a possible loss by taking an inventory of your property. Maintain a list of all valuable items, the date of purchase and the original price. Make it a practice to record serial numbers and save purchase receipts. Take photographs of or videotape your personal belongings. Keep your inventory or videotape in a place where it will not be stolen or damaged by a fire.

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Follow these fire prevention tips so that you'll stop a fire before it has a chance to get started:

  1. Hunt for electrical hazards.
  2. Don't plug more than one appliance into an extension cord. Make sure extension cords are out in the open rather than under carpets and furniture, or pinned tightly against a wall by furniture. Use listed appliances.
  3. Make sure your electrical appliances bear the seal of an independent testing organization. Unplug them if you are not using them.
  4. Install smoke detectors. Install one for every level of your home. Check batteries and test weekly.
  5. Use flammables outside. Always store combustible or flammable liquids, such as gasoline or kerosene, in labeled metal containers, tightly closed, and away from heat or flame. Keep on hand only the quantity you need to fuel your lawn mower or similar equipment.
  6. Don't let rags collect. Don't keep oily, greasy or paint-smeared rags in the house. Guard against spontaneous combustion.
  7. Don't smoke in bed. Never smoke when sleepy. Smokers should use large, heavy ashtrays to extinguish smoking materials. Careless smoking is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths.
  8. Keep important numbers visible. Post your fire department telephone number near your phone.
  9. Learn how to use extinguishers. Equip your home with 2 ½ - pound all-purpose dry chemical fire extinguishers. Make sure one is in the kitchen.
  10. Keep your kitchen fire safe. Never leave your cooking unattended, and always keep pot handles turned in so they can't be pulled or knocked off the stove. Never put water on a grease fire. It spreads the flame.
  11. Have family fire drills. Plan in advance what escape route you'll use, and have an alternate route in case flames should block your way.

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Even households that practice fire safety can still experience the tragedy of fire. Knowing what to do in case a fire strikes is as important as taking preventive measures.

  1. Don't panic or run, but use your escape route.
  2. Crawl low in smoke. Crawl low while you exit. Smoke and heat rise, and the air is cleaner near the floor.
  3. Get out and stay out. Go as quickly as possible, leaving your possessions behind. Never go back in - you may not get out again.
  4. Stop, drop and roll. If your clothes catch fire, remember the simple phrase - stop, drop and roll. This will smother the fire.
  5. Do not run. Call the fire department.

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Fraud is not simply the insurance industry's problem. It is a crime that impacts upon the pocketbooks of insurers and consumers alike. Effective fraud control then, demands everyone's cooperation.

  1. Report any accident you're involved in or witness. Your account can be important in determining the legitimacy of a claim. Contact your insurance agent if you're involved in an accident.
  2. Make sure a police officer is called to the scene of the accident immediately. Always obtain a police report.
  3. Keep accurate records of what happened at the scene of an accident. Record names, addresses, phone numbers, notes of what was said, etc.
  4. Obtain identification. Make sure you get the driver's license number and insurance card from all individuals involved in the accident.
  5. If you're in a minor accident and, for example, someone gives you the name of a doctor or lawyer who can "make you some money," or if a body shop mechanic offers to inflate your damage estimate, don't just walk away. Contact the police and notify your insurer.
  6. If a fellow employee fakes an injury or is working while collecting disability pay; report him or her to your employer or company insurer.
  7. If you suspect an insurance fraud or vehicle theft scheme, contact your insurer, notify authorities or call the National Insurance Crime Bureau at 1-800-TEL-NICB. Callers are eligible for rewards of up to $1,000.

Sources: Insurance Crime Prevention Institute and the National Insurance Crime Bureau

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Homeowners insurance policies exist to financially protect policyholders and their homes from losses caused by unforeseen disasters and accidents. Most policies cover destruction of, or damage to, structures on your property, such as a house, garage or tool shed. Coverage also includes objects within the home, such as furniture, appliances, clothing and other personal possessions. A typical homeowners policy covers losses or property damage due to fire, theft, vandalism and windstorm. A windstorm is not a hurricane. In the aftermath of any damage to your home, follow the steps below:

  1. Without endangering yourself, make temporary repairs and take other steps to protect your property from further damage. You will be reimbursed for responsible repairs.
  2. If there's a large amount of water inside your home, make sure it is well-ventilated to allow for as much drying as possible
  3. Dry and clean rugs/carpets as quickly as possible. Clean water should not ruin carpet even if it is mixed with debris.
  4. Phone your agent or company representative immediately, since an insurance policy may include limits on the length of time you have to file a claim. Have all the information about your loss with you. Ask questions such as:

    • Am I covered?
    • Does my claim exceed my deductible?
    • How long will it take to process my claim?


  5. Prepare duplicate lists of all damaged items. Include a description of each item, the date of purchase and estimated cost. If possible, locate sales receipts for damaged items, and photograph or videotape all damage.
  6. Be prepared for an adjuster's inspection of your home and be available at least by phone. After large disasters many insurance companies will send company personnel or independent adjusters to the scene to speed claims filing and reimbursements.
  7. Provide needed information to the insurance representative assigned to handle your claim. Your insurer is there to help you; so cooperate with your insurance company in its investigation, settlement or defense of a claim. If your agent or company requests, follow up your call with a written explanation of what happened.
  8. As soon as possible, secure a detailed estimate (two, if possible) for permanent repairs, including specifications for proposed repairs, repair costs and replacement prices.
  9. Keep a record of cancelled checks, bills and any other documents related to repair work. Save receipts from any additional living expenses you incur if your home is so severely damaged that you must find other accommodations while repairs are being made.
  10. Do not attempt to mislead your insurer about your claim. Insurance fraud is a crime punishable by law.
  11. Talk things over with your agent and adjuster if you are dissatisfied with the settlement offer. Check your policy to see what settlement steps it outlines.

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