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Personal Insurance Blog

Pool Laws and Insurance

Posted by Gordon Atlantic Staff

Wed, May 20, 2020 @ 03:16 PM

Do you have a swimming pool, or are you thinking about getting one?  Summer is coming!  

Always make sure you're aware of the laws and risks that are associated with pools. Abiding by the state laws for private pools not only protects the lives of those using the pool, but also ensures that you avoid fines from local officials or the Massachusetts State Board of Building Regulations.  

Here are some of the regulations as we understand them: 

  • Pools must be surrounded by a fence four feet or taller, with a self-closing gate.
  • Doors from your house leading to the pool must be alarmed.
  • Swimming pools must be at least 20 feet away from the borders of the property lot, and they shouldn't be near your septic tank. Insure_your_pool_with_a_personal_umbrella_liability_homeowners_policy_from_Andrew_G_Gordon_Inc

Did you know that even inflatable pools you buy from Wal-Mart need a building and electrical permit (if they hold 24 or more inches of water in height)? You and your kids should have lots of outdoor fun, but be careful and contact your city or town hall if you're not sure. 

To save on your energy bill for your pool, consider a solar cover to heat the pool for free and prevent evaporation. Keep your filters clean so that the pool filters run smoothly and keep irritants out of the water. Maintaining your pool properly and frequently protects and prolongs the life of your pool equipment.

A few insurance angles:

Insure the added risk from your pool by increasing your home insurance liability limits. 

Pools count as "other structures" under your home insurance policy, which are typically given 10% of coverage for the amount written for your home (if your homeowner's policy is $350,000, then your other structures are typically covered at $35,000. If this isn't enough, call us.

If you will be away from your pool for an extended period, it is worth the investment of putting locks on your gates to prevent unwanted intruders.  This protects your property as well as you in the unlikely event someone is injured.

Contact us with any questions about your homeowner's insurance or for a personal umbrella policy quote.

Have a safe and happy summer!

Gordon Atlantic Insurance

Call us today for a quote: 800-649-3252

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Tags: home, insurance, laws, massachusetts, homeowners, pool, swimming, personal umbrella

Coronavirus Auto Insurance Discounts

Posted by Gordon Atlantic Staff

Tue, Apr 21, 2020 @ 12:43 PM

adult-automotive-blur-car-13861-1

What’s happening with auto insurance?

We have alerted you, our customers individually about the specifics of reductions to your auto insurance Automatically applied by your respective insurance companies.

In case you missed it below our is a synopsis of what some of our carriers have done already.

Company

Discount

Business Use (food and medicine delivery)

Billing phone number

Hanover

15% of all premium for April & May

yes - automatic

800-573-1187

Concord Group

15% discount for April & may

yes - automatic

 

Mapfre / Commerce

15% of all premium for April & May

 

800-922-8276 press 2,  then 2 again

National Grange

$50 per vehicle - automatically applied

 

800-258-5310 (Press 3

Quincy Mutual

$25 per vehicle - automatically applied

 

617-770-5390 (ext. 5390)

Safeco

15% of all premium for April & May

 

888-723-3260

Safety

15% of all premium for April & May

yes - automatic

800- 951-2100 (press 2

Travelers

15% of all premium for April & May

yes - automatic

800-842-5075

Plymouth Rock

25% of liability coverages (April & for as long as confinement mandated)

yes - automatic

866-353-6292

Please note that in addition to these discounts which have been applied automatically, billing departments are working with customers who are out of work or who are under similar financial strain. In addition there has been a state mandated moratorium for cancellations and late payment fees. 

Tags: auto policy, automotive, Auto Insurance, coronavirus

Adapting to the working from home lifestyle

Posted by Gordon Atlantic Staff

Wed, Apr 08, 2020 @ 05:06 PM

 

woman-using-laptop-while-holding-a-cup-of-coffee-3759083

For most of us, working from home was something you’d hear a friend of a friend got to do. You’d hear about this distant person, living a life of luxury, making their own schedule and having a party at home while the rest of the working world was in an actual office doing actual work.

Well, now most of us who are still working, excluding essential workers, are working from home. Here are some tips for being productive and adapting to this new way of life.

Forget about the traditional work day

Try to put aside the idea of an 8 hour work day. When you are in the physical office, the 8 hour work day makes sense. The work day has a clear start and end based on everyone’s physical presence in the office and the agreed dedication to work during that time with limited distractions. While sticking to a specific work schedule at home can work for some, for most of us it can be unrealistic.

Start thinking of the day in terms of specific goals, rather than working for a full 8 hours. Assign yourself the amount or level of tasks that you would have gotten done during a typical day at the office. Instead of trying to stick to the 8 hours, make it a point to complete the tasks you’ve laid out. 

Prioritizing the big stuff

While physically in the office, it can be a lot easier to determine what’s on the top of the list of to-do’s. The people around you will often set the tone and give you an idea of what’s most important. At home, it’s not always as obvious. You can easily get caught up in answering not as important emails and other less important tasks. So take a moment the night before or the morning before you start your next work day to sort your tasks into 4 categories: 

  1. The urgent stuff
    This is the stuff that has to get done right at that moment but wasn’t part of your original daily plan. Also known as putting out fires. Some examples might be solving an unforeseen issue with a major client, or fixing a technical issue that prevents you from doing an important part of your job.
  2. The main goals for the day Set out the main goals for your day. This should be the meat and potatoes of your work day. The work should be meaningful and measurable. It can be easy to get overwhelmed and stack too much on your plate, which can lead to even less getting done. Take a look at your to-do list and pick 3 big important things to get done in the day. If you are able to do more, that’s great, but being realistic and focused on the 3 most important things will lead to more efficient use of your time, and higher quality work
  3. The not-so urgent, not so important stuff
    This category includes emails that are not particularly urgent, or that thing you’ve been meaning to do. This is basically all the extra stuff that isn’t as important. Once you finish your 3 big things for the day, you can move on to this category. Making the distinction between what fits into this category and your main goals for the day will have the biggest impact on your productivity and overall work efficiency.
  4. Distractions/Entertainment
    This category deals with the TV shows, Netflix, scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, calling friends and family. While this stuff is important for your mental health, you have to be aware of the amount of time you are dedicating to it. It can be easy to get sucked into distractions, especially if other people in your house are engaged in this type of stuff. If you haven’t completed your main goals for the day, it can be ok to take a break, just make sure you set a time limit for yourself so you don’t lose track of time.

Become a regular in social groups

Humans are social creatures and for most of us, social isolation can start to take a toll. Think about which social groups you were part of before isolation began and see if there is an online replacement already up and running. Many gym classes, church gatherings, business meetings, and dozens of other group meetings are continuing their regular schedule through online platforms like Zoom, Skype and Facebook. Check to see if your group is still meeting, and if they aren’t, you can always put together a group yourself.

Beyond local groups, many online communities are seeing a surge in activity. Check for topics that interest you on platforms like LinkedIn, Reddit, Facebook and Quora. Even just being a part of an online community can help you feel more grounded socially.

Figure out what works for you

Most people are learning how to work from home for the first time. While sticking to a strict schedule works for some people, it might not work for you. Be honest with yourself and examine your own behavior. What days or weeks did you get the most done? What days and weeks did you get the least done? Take a look at the days and figure out what helps you be productive and happy. For some, it means taking a break or even a nap at certain parts of the day. For others, a productive work day might mean making an effort to connect with co-workers through video and audio chat. Recognize your own rhythms and figure out what helps you work best. 



Tags: home, coronavirus, working from home, home office, social distancing

Winterizing Your Car

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon

Tue, Dec 17, 2019 @ 01:21 PM

I recently received a friendly reminder from my car dealer not to forget to winterize my car. With winter weather fast approaching, it makes sense to tackle some of the simple maintenance tasks that could keep your car in top running condition. Timely maintenance does more than keep your vehicle running smoothly. It can help increase its trade-in value, improve its mileage and save you time and costly repairs down the road.

  • Prepare your car for the winter with auto insurance and tips from Andrew Gordon IncBelts. With the engine off, check your car’s belts for cracks and missing pieces. To check for proper tightness, press down on the belt with your thumb. If the belt gives more than half an inch, it needs tightening.
  • Hoses. When the car is cold, feel your car’s hoses for bulges, cracks, soft spots or brittleness. With the engine running, look for (but don’t touch) bulges or leaks. If you detect any, have the hose replaced. Note: Avoid replacing air conditioning hoses yourself. Their pressurized gases can cause serious injury.
  • Coolant. Check the level of coolant in your radiator by looking at the coolant overflow tank. Maintaining a 50/50 mix of antifreeze will keep your engine cool in hot weather and prevent damage when temperatures fall as low as 40 below zero. Note: Do not remove the radiator cap until the engine is turned off and has cooled down.
  • Oil. Depending on the driving conditions your car is subjected to, change your oil and filter as recommended in your Owner’s Manual. Also, use the recommended oil grade.
  • Power Steering Fluid. To check, pull out the dipstick, wipe it clean, and insert it again. Pull it out again and check the level. If it is below the HOT range, add the recommended steering fluid up to the upper level mark. Note: If the fluid level is extremely low or fluid has been replaced, contact your dealer.
  • Brake Fluid. Check the fluid level on the outside of the tank using the lines on the reservoir as a guide. If the level is below MIN, add brake fluid from a sealed container to bring it up to MAX. You’ll notice a significant drop in fluid levels when there’s a leak. Note: Brake fluid absorbs moisture from the air. Any absorbed moisture can cause a dangerous loss of braking performance. If your brake fluid tank requires frequent refilling, there may be a leak. Contact your dealer immediately.
  • Air Filter. Again, depending on the condition of the roads traveled by your vehicle, routinely check your air filter for accumulated debris.
  • Battery. Check your battery terminals regularly, removing any corrosion with a toothbrush and a mix of baking soda and water.
  • Tires. Check your tire pressure (with tires cold) once a month or more. Keep tires inflated to manufacturer’s recommendations, which can be found on the driver’s side door frame placard and in the owner’s manual.
  • Wipers, Washers, Horn And Lights. Finally, be sure to check the operation of your car’s wipers, windshield washers, horn and lights. Tip: Isopropyl alcohol makes wiper blade clean-up a snap!

For more relevant information and insurance resources, visit the A. G. Gordon website. Look for our auto insurance resources and whiteboard videos. Learn more about your auto insurance options here.

INSURANCE QUESTION?  

Geoff Gordon

Tags: auto, insurance, Automobile, car, air, winterizing, conditioning, filter, brake, fluid, winter tips, hydraulic, tire, windscreen wiper

Home Safety Reminders for the Holidays

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon

Tue, Dec 17, 2019 @ 12:46 PM

holiday luminaries pic 2018

The holiday season is a busy time, and that busy-ness can make us unaware of dangers that lurk in plain sight. Here's a partial list of things to be mindful of in the season of lights and cold weather.  We've seen these conditions turn bad, and we want you to enjoy all this particular time of year offers.

While electrical fires are less common today than they were before circuit breakers and GFI plugs, let's be reminded that electricity does generate heat. Thus:

  • Don't leave candles unattended. Melting wax is an accelerant, and every year over the holidays the local news has a story or two of a burned out home from forgotten candles left lit.
  • Turn off Christmas tree lights whenever you leave the house.
  • Don't pile too many lines into a single socket; overuse of a socket can generate too much heat.

Fireplaces warm the room, and our hearts, but a friendly fire and a hostile fire are two very different things.  Our old house has seven working fireplaces, so these tips come from real experience:
  • Never vacuum ashes from a fireplace unless they are fully cold to the touch. If you've ever sucked up a single small spark into a vacuum you've seen how oxygen being blown through a bag of dust can turn that spark hot and hostile in seconds (and the smoke it emits smells really bad – this one from an early lifetime, memorable, fireplace experience).
  • When cleaning ashes, don't collect when warm to the touch, NEVER in a paper bag,and never leave them the house or garage. Store in a metal container and place it outside  (ashes spread over packed down snow improve footing, by the way).
  • If the fireplace does not have a safety door or fireplace screen to prevent sparks from escaping, stay close. Nothing like a burning log rolling out onto the floor turning friendly to hostile.

We cook and bake a lot over the holidays. Checklist items from the kitchen include:

  • Is the oven off when you leave the house?
  • Are children around? Turn pot handles in and move knives safely out of reach. 
  • Are the kitchen smoke detectors operating properly? If battery operated, go ahead and change those batteries now.

Finally, is your best friend during an emergency fire nearby and quickly located? We're talking about fire extinguishers here. Now is a good time to check the expiration date or pressure charge indicator.  A First Alert fire extinguisher is about $20 on Amazon or your local hardware store.

Now go and enjoy the best of the season, be with friends and family, and be thankful for all we have.

To discuss any of the above with respect to your own insurance program, please don't hesitate to call the Gordon Atlantic Insurance professionals toll free at 1-800-649-3252. Prefer to type versus talk? Use the form at the left of this blog.

Contact Us

 

Tags: home safety, fires, Christmas tree lights, holiday safety, fireplace safety, oven safety, smoke detectors, candle safety

Halloween (the movie) & Minimizing Risk

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon

Tue, Oct 22, 2019 @ 09:35 AM

Halloween Pumpkin Pic

The latest remake of the 1978 original “Halloween” horror flick surprised a few people with its opening weekend sales of $77 million! This was more than double the formerly highest grossing “Halloween” movie ($26 million its opening weekend in 2007). Looking at these large dollar figures, it seems that people like to get scared more in a group (such as in a theatre) than at home. What’s the appeal? When things go wrong…when things get scary…there is comfort in numbers.

Numbers provide a measure of predictability and certainty to a situation. On the other hand, unpredictability and uncertainty are at the core of risk, which causes us stress. With theatres under tremendous competition from streaming providers such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, the horror theme seems to be well positioned to scare a bunch of people together.

In our homes, we can minimize uncertainty of seasonal changes by preparing our homes for cold weather beginning in the fall, and prompted by setting our clocks back. Here's a short list for a Saturday after Halloween:

  • Clean gutters (or hire a handyman for this)
  • close all sill cocks (outside water faucets) from inside (to prevent freezing)
  • inspect the chimney liner if you burn wood - let a chimney company do this)
  • change air filters for air based heat,
  • check around windows for any caulking needs

Also, review the checkups we should do twice a year (when we put our clocks forward or back):

  • Check tags and location of fire extinguishers (can you locate a fire extinguisher right now?)
  • Change out the batteries on smoke and CO2 detectors
  • Has your family makeup changed such that a review of your family's disaster exit plan should be updated?

There's also value in numbers, including the number of people at Gordon Atlantic standing behind your insurance, and who have experience with risk reduction, claims mitigation, and claims handling. Always let us know how we can reduce the cost of risk (uncertainty and unpredictability) in your world.

Call to speak to a Gordon Atlantic Insurance professional by calling 1-800-649-3252. Prefer to type versus talk? Click below.

HAVE A QUESTION?

Tags: Halloween, risk, safety, seasonal, safety tips, minimizing risk, scary movie, uncertainty

Mass RMV now Reviewing Out-Of-State Driving Records

Posted by Gordon Atlantic Staff

Tue, Oct 01, 2019 @ 09:48 AM

There is some great news for Massachusetts drivers; the roads are going to be a little safer for everyone. But this news comes after a devastating vehicle accident and a serious problem uncovered at the Massachusetts RMV. Here is the backstory.architecture-auto-automobiles-210182

This past June, 7 cyclists were killed in New Hampshire by a Massachusetts driver, driving a commercial truck with a trailer attached. After the incident, Massachusetts officials discovered that the driver of the truck, 23 year old Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, was arrested in 2013 in Westfield on drunk driving charges and then again in May 2019 in Connecticut.

So how was he able to continue driving after his most recent incident? When officials investigated further, they made a shocking discovery; tens of thousands of electronic and written warnings about out- of-state driving incidents by Massachusetts drivers went unseen by the RMV over the course of about a year and a half, simply sitting in storage bins in Quincy.

This has sent the RMV and state officials into overdrive to review the out-of-state reports backlog and take the necessary steps against MA drivers with negative driving records from out-of-state. The good news for most MA drivers is that driving conditions should be a bit safer once drivers with serious out-of-state records are taken off the road. The bad news is that if you were at fault for a recent out-of-state vehicle accident, your driving step will be adjusted and your insurance rate will soon increase.

It’s unfortunate that it took a tragedy to uncover this issue, but at least it’s finally being resolved.

Hurricane Defined for Insurance

Posted by Gordon Atlantic Staff

Thu, Sep 19, 2019 @ 01:06 PM

Prepare yourself for storms with hurricane insurance from andrew gordon incIn the aftermath of Dorian, the question remains: what makes a storm a hurricane?

The answer to this question is a significant indicator as to how claims are handled by insurance carriers.

So, let us determine what constitutes a hurricane.  Here are some of the conditions that must be met:

1) Low pressure system.

2) Warm temperatures over the ocean.

3) Moist environment (precipitation).

4) Tropical wind patterns over the equator.

Once these conditions are met, a hurricane must have sustained winds of 74 miles per hour or more. The eye of the storm is usually 20 to 30 miles wide and the storm itself may extend up to 400 miles across. The inherent dangers of this type of storm are torrential rains, high winds and tidal surges (super high tides). A hurricane can last for two weeks or more over open water and run a path the length of the Eastern seaboard, from the Caribbean to Nova Scotia.

What caused of Hurricane Dorian to stall over the Bahamas?

When a hurricane moves, the time spent in any particular area is limited.  But when it stalls, as Dorian did over Great Abaco for over 36 hours, the devastation continues. The damge Hurricane Harvey caused in Houston was not so much the wind, but the 52" of rain that fell in 48 hours after Harvey's landfall.  Hurricanes break apart, or move, when upper level air, the air above the hurricane's most violent force, prevents storm air from rising.  Strong air movement above the hurricane creates shear, disrupting the pattern of spinning storm.  We like upper atmospheric shear on a hurricane.  Similarly, continental high pressure from land (westerly) also pushes hurricanes out to sea limiting damage to homes and businesses.  We also like high pressure from the west, southwest or northwest.  

On average, 100 tropical storms develop each year between May and November over the Atlantic Ocean.  Only six eventually develop into hurricanes and of these six, two are likely to strike the coast of the United States. The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins on June 1 and ends on November 30 of each year, with the most active time being from mid-August through mid-October.  The winter hurricane threat is virtually non-existent.

For homeowners living near the coast, having wind or named storm deductibles is common.  For more about these - and which is the better among evils - visit our Named Storm vs. Windstorm deductibles page

If you have any other insurance questions, please contact us here at Gordon Atlantic Insurance. We'll help you understand any confusing definitions or tricky aspects of insurance.  We make insurance make sense.

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Tags: personal, hurricane, insurance, definition, storm, wind, sandy

Wind Deductible vs. Hurricane vs. Named Storm Deductibles

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon

Thu, Aug 15, 2019 @ 09:40 AM


You call the insurance company after a big nor'easter or hurricane, with a tree sitting on your house, and they tell you that you have a "wind deductible."  What's that?  

It's a separate deductible from the one that applies to everything else to lower the cost of storms to insurance companies in wind-prone regions.  There are a few variations beyond just "wind," and we'll look at which are better (if your location limits your choices and have this provision).

House damaged by tree-927040-edited.jpgWhen a storm hits, the distinction between Named Storm deductibles, Wind storm deductibles and Hurricane deductibles can be important. The distinction is particularly important if you live or own property in a coastal county in Massachusetts, such as Plymouth, Dukes, Barnstable, Bristol, Suffolk and Essex, because all are generally available and choosing the right one might make a difference in the cost to repair your home after a storm. 

Here's how it works:  these deductibles are applied separately for a higher dollar amount than your standard deductible, known as “all other perils” (AOP) deductibles.  For example, if you have a $1,000 deductible for fire, theft and all other perils and you live on the coast, you may have a $2,000 or higher deductible for windstorm and hail losses.

More common than dollar amounts however, wind deductibles are often expressed as a percentage of the coverage amount on your home. For example, a 1% wind deductible on a $300,000 home would be $3,000 and a 2% wind deductible would be $6,000.  A 5% wind deductible on a $700,000 home is $35,000!!  Here in coastal Massachusetts counties, 1%, 2% and 5% wind deductibles are common if your property is within a mile of the coast.  

These deductibles are part of an effort by the insurance industry to limit their storm losses by having homeowners share more of the repair costs when the wind blows.  Informed property owners - that's you - can take steps to protect homes when especially vulnerable to wind damage.  After all, if you have a 5% deductible on half a million dollar house, you’ve got 25,000 good reasons to consider storm shutters, a generator, the highest quality shingles, fewer trees in the yard, and other protections. 

If you have a wind deductible it normally will appear right on the "declarations" (first) page of your homeowner’s insurance policy.   Different insurance companies use different metrics for these specific peril deductibles. The three most common approaches are:

  1. Windstorm deductibles (the broadest, meaning it will affect the most people)  
  2. Named Storm deductibles (common) and
  3. Hurricane deductibles. 

The broadest of these three, meaning where it will apply to the most consumer claims, is a Windstorm deductible.  These deductibles apply whenever damage is caused by wind; these include not only hurricanes and other tropical storms but also winter nor'easters and summer thunderstorms.   Any kind of wind damage will prompt this higher exposure to the owner.

The next category is Named Storm deductibles.  To illustrate, remember the notorious “no-name" storm?  Damage from that storm would not have been subject to a higher Named Storm deductible, but would have under a Wind deductible.  The regular, smaller AOP deductible would have been used for any damage caused by the no-name storm under a Named Storm deductible.    But damage from Hurricane Irene or Hurricane Sandy, or other named storms would have invoked the Wind and/or Named Storm deductible. 

Finally, there are the most restrictive Hurricane deductibles.  Hurricane Sandy is a good example of the distinction between Named Storm and Hurricane deductibles.  When Sandy made land fall in New Jersey she had been downgraded from a Category I hurricane to a tropical storm. Thus, the lower AOP deductible applied to folks with a Hurricane deductible. Hurricane deductibles have become less common due to the potential for political interference after the fact, as was evident with Sandy.  Some suggested that the downgrade of Hurricane Sandy was precisely announced to shield homeowners from the Hurricane deductible.   Good for consumers with that one event, but insurance carriers quantify risk precisely, and after the fact interference prompted changes for the next event.  Thus what were Hurricane deductibles have morphed into Named Storm deductibles in most coastal regions.

Many considerations should factor in your choice of insurance companies for selecting homeowners and other property insurance.  But all else being equal, and given the option between Windstorm vs. Named Storm, choose Named Storm as it is more restrictive. Given the choice between Named Storm and Hurricane deductible, you should choose a Hurricane as it’s the least likely to be invoked.  

For more information on the subject, check out our short but super-informative whiteboard video where we give cost examples of various deductible options near the coast.

If you've just discovered you have a higher wind deductible than you are comfortable with, contact us at 800-649-3252We can also research better offers for you - just click the link below. 

  Coastal Insurance  eBook REQUEST A QUOTE

Geoff Gordon

Tags: insurance, homeowners, storm, deductible, wind, windstorm, Coastal, deductibles, named, all other perils, AOP

Do insurance companies charge for “Not-at-fault” accidents?

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon

Thu, May 02, 2019 @ 10:50 AM

Short answer is yes, most insurance companies do add a charge for accidents even when you are less than 50% at-fault. 

Most national companies have included this as a risk factor for years.  When national insurance carriers came in to Massachusetts, they employed risk factors that improved their models, as long as they didn’t violate existing state regulations.   One prohibited risk factor is the use of credit scoring for pricing auto insurance.  Used in 49 other states, here credit cannot be used as a rating factor for your auto insurance costs.  But “Not-at-fault” accidents can be.

Gordon Truck accident  claimThe practice of charging for not-at-fault accidents Is relatively new in Massachusetts for traditional Massachusetts-only carriers.  But models here have followed the national model more closely ever since ‘managed competition’ was introduced in 2009.  

Why do they charge when I’m not at fault?

“At-fault” in Massachusetts has been the metric where all you need was for the other driver to be 51% or more at fault, and you were good.   They get the points, and you don’t.   This is reflected in the “Standards-of-Fault,  a boiling down of nearly a century of traffic case law, to identify “If XYZ happens, then the driver is assumed to be more than 50% at-fault.”  These standards still matter when at-fault points are assigned, so they’re worth knowing.  What they fail to acknowledge adequately is ‘contributory negligence’.

Contributory negligence acknowledges the reality that most accidents are not completely black and white.  More often we see 70-30, 60-40 or some other variation other than 100% - 0%, such as when someone hits your legally parked car.

What role does subrogation play?   (What is Subrogation?)

Subrogation is the process where, after the accident bills have been paid, the insurance company lawyers settle up.   For example, suppose I run a stop sign and hit your car.    You go to your insurance company; they pay the collision and your rental while your car is being fixed.  Once that claim is paid, your insurance company comes to my company and says, YOUR driver (meaning me) caused this accident where we paid collision and rental.  Here’s our bill.   If my company declines to pay, they go to court and a judge says, ‘Pay the bill’ to my carrier.   Since everybody knows this, they rarely go to court and resolve these issues based on known documented factors.    

Let’s look at a more common example.  Suppose I come through a ‘yield’ sign; but it’s dusk and you don’t have your headlights on.    Assuming the same damage as in the previous example, my company could argue that you were 30% at fault for driving without headlights at dusk.  So they pay only 70% of the bill.   This process involves lots of dollars, so both sides take these negotiations seriously.   Some insurance companies do a better job than others.

One of our carriers only makes a risk charge if the at-fault cost share is greater than $1,000.  We like this approach as it ignores smaller accidents especially when you contributed less to the accident.

What can I do as a driver?

Practice defensive driving.    If you’re in an accident, document it.  Get a picture of the other driver’s license and registration.  Take pictures of damage to both vehicles, and note the time (especially dusk or dawn), and road conditions.  Complete your operators report as quickly as possible so you remember details, and document them.  Imagine your insurance company subrogation advocate looking for reasons to pay the other carrier less. This might result in no effect on your future rates.

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Tags: car accidents, reducing risk, subrogation, contributory negligence, Not-at-fault, fault

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