Children At School & Car Insurance

In our last blog we focused on how to know if your son or daughter is still considered a family member and “an insured” under your home insurance policy while they reside in an apartment or dormitory while away at college.  If they are an insured there are things you can do to make sure they are covered should something unforeseen occur.  But, along with where they live, you may have given your children a car while in high school or as a gift for graduation.

To recap from the last blog, if your child moved out and pays for everything with no help from you, they are not considered a family member and not “an insured”.  In this case your homeowners policy offers no coverage for them and they need one of their own.  To take it one step further, your child would also not be “an insured” on your auto insurance policy and they need one of their own.  The only exception is if the car is under your name and not theirs.  They may only have coverage under your policy as a permissive user but only when driving that particular car.  There is a high likelihood that your policy will not cover them as a pedestrian or while inside any other vehicle.

But let us now go under the assumption that your child qualifies as a family member and “an insured”.  Your car insurance company will want them to be a listed driver.  While at college, your son or daughter will have full coverage under your auto policy as a pedestrian and while driving the insured car or even a friend’s car.

In the example of your child driving a friend’s car, let us say they are involved in an accident that results in the injury of another person, an injury to her- or him- self and damage to the car.  The insurance policy for the friend will respond first.  Your policy will come into play if or when the limits of their policy are less than what is needed.  From your auto policy you and your child will be covered with the liability coverage, Personal Injury Protection (if the accident occurs in Florida), Medical Payments, and coverage for physical damage.  Keep in mind, though, that your auto policy is limited to the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and any territories of the U.S.  If your child attends college or travels to anywhere outside of those countries, they are not covered by your car insurance policy.

On the subject of who the car is titled to, it can be easier (and possibly less expensive) if the car is titled to the parents instead of the child.  That way, the car can be on the your policy with no possible need to alter your policy to also cover a family member with their own car or get a separate auto policy for the child.

One thing to think about is your child’s roommate who may or may not have a car of their own.  If they do have one and your child will have, for whatever reason, regular use of the roommate’s vehicle, you might want to consider adding an exclusion on your policy that would exclude your child from any coverage (PIP and Uninsured Motorist may still apply) while driving the roommate’s car.  Otherwise, your policy may cover your child in a vehicle “furnished or available for the regular use of a family member.”  You could also take it one step further by ensuring that the roommate’s car is insured and with limits that would help you feel better about your child driving their car.  Related to this issue would be if someone else drives your child’s car.  A scenario above was what can happen if your child is involved in an accident while driving another’s car.  The tables are turned if your child loans their car to the roommate or a school friend.  Instead of your policy being used for any excess funds it will be the primary policy used.

When a child leaves for college, there is no set strategy or formula to use in an attempt to be prepared for any scenarios that take place.  Your child at school could rent something like skis or jet-skis (coverage may not apply), partake in social activities involving alcohol, skydive and bungee jump (life insurance???), etc.  College can be a fun time in a child’s life but for the parents it could mean a jumble of mixed emotions and concerns.  If you have a child going away to school this August or in the near future, you may have questions regarding what your child is or is not covered for under your car insurance policy.  Or, there may be concerns related to something else that may or may not require another kind of insurance policy, such as your child getting a part-time job.  Please give us a call at 305-270-2100 and we can help you with the answers to your questions.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

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Retiree Life Insurance Considerations

There are many things that you no longer have to worry about when retired, but insurance considerations is not one of them. In order to get the most out of your retirement and your retirement savings, having a well-designed insurance portfolio is vital. Here are some of the coverages you should be considering before, and after, retirement:

  • Home Insurance: One of the goals of many retirees is to have a paid off home by the time they reach retirement. Many may have the misconception that once your home is paid off your need for home insurance changes. Home insurance isn’t a product that’s meant to protect a mortgager though, it’s meant to protect you. If something should happen to your home or your belongings, without insurance you would be forced to sell assets or dip into your retirement savings to repair or replace your home and possessions.
  • Auto Insurance: Once your automobile is paid for, many think keeping the state required minimum is enough. What if your car should be stolen, vandalized or totaled in a collision? Without the proper insurance you’ll have to use retirement funds to repair or replace it. You may also find that state required minimums for liability and bodily injury may prove so limited that you will be forced to pay out-of-pocket for the damages that exceed your limits.
  • Life Insurance: Life insurance is generally thought of as a policy that helps survivors, but with cash value growth available for tax-free loans it can also help pad your retirement spending. In addition, if one spouse should pass away, leaving the other alone, the life insurance policy proceeds can supplement the surviving spouse’s retirement budget. For those concerned with leaving a legacy to their heirs, a life insurance policy ensures that you can do so without having to put a cap on your retirement spending.
  • Long-term Care Insurance: Not every retiree has the health and mobility to independently complete all activities of daily living such as showering and dressing. When you begin to need assistance with daily activities, moving into an assisted living facility or hiring an in-home nurse may be necessary. Medicare and Social Security will only pay for certain long-term care expenses. Designing a supplemental long-term care policy, with an acceptable waiting period and daily benefit, is vital if you want to avoid using retirement funds for your long-term care needs.

Retirement assets create a limited pool of funds that need to be available for an unknown period of time. Life Insurance policies retirees preserve those funds and keep enjoying your retirement the way you want to. Give us a call at 305-270-2100 and we can discuss the many ways that insurance is there to make your retirement more financially secure.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

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Cell Phone Use While Driving

AAA conducted a study that found it is more distracting to use voice-to-text messaging in your car than it is to make a call on your handheld cell phone.  Different activities were tested to find out how much mental distraction each one has.  Listening to music or a book on tape was “small”, talking with a passenger or someone over the phone was “medium” and texting someone verbally while driving was “large”.

You can see in car commercials that voice-based messaging is being advertised as safer than the alternative and millions of cars worldwide are being shipped with that technology… but it may create a scenario where one problem is solved while another one is created.

The technology may have its advantages but AAA’s study results are fueling Deborah Hersman’s, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), call to have any phone conversation (hands-free or not) banned while behind the wheel.  Ray LaHood, Outgoing Transportation Secretary, is asking drivers to place their phones in the glove box while operating a vehicle but has not commented on systems like Sync and Entune, which accept verbal commands from drivers.

In the study AAA had drivers, most of them 20 – 39, partake in activities such as talking on a phone and listening to music.  They started off by doing the tasks in a lab, then in a simulator and then finally while driving on a residential street.  To find what was most distracting, their reaction times and brainwave activity were recorded with special caps they wore on their heads and measured by researchers.

When being tested on the road, the study participants drove a Subaru Outback that was decked out with a back seat researcher to record response times, computers and cameras.  For tests involving a cell phone they had a phone from Samsung but a hands-free device was used instead of a voice activated system in the car.

The participants were unaware but a possible variable was controlled by the researchers.  They had the drivers text manually instead of verbally.  This was done so that no voice recognition software error could cause an additional distraction of corrections needing to be made by the driver.

Our state, Florida, became the 41st to ban driving with a handheld phone.  So far, though, none of the states have looked at distractions from voice controls and U.S. regulators are not asking them to.  The NTSB is able to give recommendations for safety changes but they do not have any regulatory power.

The department Lahood works in issued non-binding guidelines in April of this year requesting that car makers block the ability to browse the Internet or use social media sites through a vehicle’s infotainment system while the car is not parked.

Car manufacturers have also been urged to create screen-based infotainment systems so that a driver does not need to look away from the road for more than 2 seconds when making a selection, or for a total of 12 seconds when doing something like inputting an address.

AAA’s research results were released earlier this month but there was another study, with results released in April, that found texting manually on a cell phone to be just as distracting as hands-free texting.  In this study conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute the drivers, while on a closed course, would send texts manually and hands-free with either Siri on an Apple phone or Vlingo on an Android phone.

Whether manually or verbally, reaction times while texting were almost twice as slow when not texting and verbal texts actually took longer to complete than those that were manually typed in.

It has been said by automakers that if infotainment systems are limited then it may cause drivers to go back to using their handheld device.  Whether this is true or not, AAA is asking car manufacturers and suppliers of electronics to work with the technology and assess its distractions.

Compared to how long cars have been around, voice- and touch- activated systems are new.  There is a lot that can be done with them but there must be a happy medium allowing drivers to have all of the features while still being safe on the road with good reaction times.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

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Hurricane Preparedness: What To Do

Summer is here and we would like to remind homeowners to continue to take precautions for the safety of their family so that at-home accidents can be avoided.  Keeping family safe is always a priority but on top of that, not having any claims might help in keeping your Miami home insurance premium as low as possible.

Some aspects of summer to keep in mind are hurricane preparedness, pool safety (if you have, or will have, one) and your lawnmower.

Hurricane Preparedness
A hurricane is never a welcome event but here are some precautions you can take to be prepare you and your home for one.

1. Make a family plan.  Find the safest places inside your house and then talk with your kids to make sure that each family member is aware of them.  You can also place emergency numbers where they can be easily accessed by kids.

2. Stock up on supplies.  In the event that you are without power for a long time make sure to have pillows, toiletry items, clothing, blankets, food, first aid, flashlights, batteries, and plenty of water.  It may also be good to have spare keys, important papers, cash, and credit cards ready if needed.

3. Have a planned evacuation location.  If you and your family need to leave your home, look into staying with family or friends that live far enough inland that will not be required to evacuate.  If that is not an option, find out where the nearest local shelters are.

4. Secure your home.  Do what you can to protect/reinforce your shutters, roof, stairways, and all doors.  You could also get in touch with a building code official to learn about any home improvement projects that can help give your home extra protection against hurricanes.  And remember, you need a flood insurance policy in place to be covered for any possible flood damage.

5. Take care of your pets.  Have a recent photo of your pet and their collar with ID in case they run off.  If you use a pet shelter for your four-legged family member, they will need to be up to date on their vaccinations.

As mentioned earlier, keeping your family safe is always a priority.  Unfortunate events may still have the potential to occur, due to unforeseen circumstances that are out of your control, but doing everything that you can to keep your family safe in any situation is always a good move.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

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The Proper Amount of Home Insurance

It is estimated that around 60% of American homes are under-insured by an average of 22% and don’t carry the proper amount of insurance that is needed.  Your home is most likely your single largest investment, so insuring it sufficiently is a vital piece of maintaining your financial independence. 

You should have a proper amount of home insurance, that of which is adequate enough, to cover the cost of rebuilding your home in the event it is completely ruined by a fire, tornado, hurricane, or other insured disaster.  If you’re unsure how much home insurance is the proper amount of coverage, that depends upon what it would take to restore your home based on current construction costs.  Please refrain, though, from including the land value and considering the price you paid for your home or its appraised value; they do not affect anything.

There are other considerations to take into account when determining the amount to insure your home for, such as:

  • Fees for an architect or other design expert to approximate costs and create plans to be followed by the contractor
  • Rapid inflation in the cost of building materials and labor following a major catastrophe that affects a number of homes in the same region
  • Local building codes that require replacement with additional features or more expensive materials
  • If you are given an amount of what it would take to restore your home, in the end it could end up higher than originally predicted. If possible, it might help to take that into consideration.

There are a number of methods used to estimate the replacement cost of a home.  Some of the factors insurance companies use are:

  • Construction materials
  • Type of foundation
  • Attached or detached garages
  • Square footage
  • Location of the home
  • Fireplace
  • Upgrades
  • Number of rooms and baths

In the end it is your responsibility to establish the value of your property and choose the amount of insurance for your policy.  We can assist with that decision and make it clear what you can do to avoid an unpleasant shock after a loss. Call us today at 305-270-2100 to see if your home insurance policy is up to par.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

Check our Facebook page for home, auto, and business insurance in Miami, FloridaLike us on Facebook!