a CA home in need of home insurance

Factors Affecting Your California Homeowners Insurance Policy

Insuring your home isn’t getting any less expensive, so you naturally want to do what you can to reduce costs. However, insurers use many factors to determine your premium so you need to understand where you can safely shave off a few dollars, and where it is risky to do so.

Here are a few factors that could affect your California home insurance rates and what you can do to minimize cost and ensure adequate coverage.

Replacement Cost

The replacement cost of your home is the amount it would cost to build a new house precisely like the one you have now in the same location.

It isn’t appropriate to use fair market value since the amount includes land and it takes your home’s age, location, square footage, amenities, and condition into account. It isn’t appropriate to use your mortgage balance either, because your balance decreases with every payment and your home normally increases in value over time.

Consequently, using market value could lead to you buying more coverage than you need and using your mortgage balance could leave you considerably under-insured.

The best way to determine replacement value is through a professional appraisal. The cost of an appraisal depends on your location, but it is well worth the expense. It provides solid evidence should you need to file a claim for damage or a total loss. Older homes sometimes cost more to rebuild than newer ones since they have expensive details and many home improvements, which increase value.

Policy Deductible

Your deductible is the amount you pay before the insurance company pays your claim. According to the Insurance Information Institute, most insurers recommend a $500 deductible, but that doesn’t mean that’s what you must choose. If you choose a higher deductible, it can lower your premiums.

This doesn’t mean you should necessarily choose the highest deductible either. You need to balance your deductible against your ability to pay if a loss occurs. However, the III states raising your deductible from $500 to $1,000 could save you as much as 25 percent. A higher deductible also discourages you from filing claims for small losses, and insurers always look at your claim’s history.

Liability Limits

Buying a policy with a low personal liability limit like $100,000 might save you a few bucks in the short-term, but it puts you at considerable risk. A lawsuit could eat up that limit in no time. Consequently, insurance experts recommend at least a $300,000 liability limit.

Medical payment coverage has its own limit. Ensure you have at least $5,000 coverage. The additional cost of these higher limits is nominal compared to losing your assets and future income.

Wood-Burning Stove

Many homeowners enjoy the warmth and energy-saving benefit of a wood stove, but owning one usually increases your insurance premium. However, you may be able to lower your expense if you provide your carrier with proof of installation by a licensed contractor.

Additionally, smoke detectors throughout your home and a nearby fire extinguisher may help reduce your premium.

Swimming Pool or Hot Tub

If you have a swimming pool or hot tub on your property, you definitely need to address your liability coverage. Besides bumping up your liability coverage to $300,000, the Insurance Information Institute also recommends an umbrella policy. This coverage kicks in if a lawsuit exhausts your homeowner’s policy’s limit and they’re affordable.

Trampolines

Trampolines cause many head and spinal injuries, and fractures which can lead to lawsuits. As a result, insurers charge you a higher premium to accept the risk.

If you haven’t bought a trampoline yet, consider the risk. Trampolines lead to around 92,000 hospital visits annually, so you may want to try an alternative activity. If you have a trampoline and don’t tell your insurer, they will not provide coverage if there’s an accident and may even cancel your policy.

Claims History

Insurance companies recognize the correlation between past claims and the likelihood of future ones. If you’re looking to lower costs, definitely order a free copy of your Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange Personal Property (C.L.U.E.) report and check it for accuracy. It shows all the claims you filed within the past seven years.

Insurers rely on the information in your report, so errors can cost you. If you find a discrepancy, contact them through the customer support link on the website above.

Insurance is a very complicated industry, so it doesn’t make sense to go it alone. Rely on an independent insurance agent with expertise. They work for you and provide unbiased advice. They’re your best tool to find excellent coverage and the best possible rates.

a personal trainer in CA who needs insurance

Things You Need To Know About Personal Training Insurance

As a personal trainer or fitness instructor, you probably don’t think too much about insurance. However, you’re running a business and proper insurance coverage is just as important for you as any other enterprise.

Insurance companies don’t sell specific personal training insurance. Instead, they usually offer a tailored business owner’s policy. A BOP provides broader coverage under one premium, and it is more affordable than if you bought separate policies.

The following are typical coverages recommended for personal trainers or fitness instructors.

Commercial General Liability (CGL)

General Liability coverage is essential for all businesses, but particularly when you work with the public. It protects you from the financial implications of third-party claims arising from bodily injury or property damage on your premises, whether that’s a gym or in your home.

For instance, a client could trip over a dumbbell, break their arm and their new iPhone, and sue you. Coverage typically includes compensation for a legal defense, property damage, and the injured party’s medical bills.

Professional Liability Insurance

Professional Liability coverage protects you against the cost to defend and settle third-party claims of negligence, errors, or omissions from your professional services.

It is important to remember that lawsuits can arise from disgruntled clients, whether you did anything wrong, or not. You’ll bear the burden of legal fees if you do not have insurance coverage.

Your policy may also cover temporary staff or independent contractors while you’re dealing with a client’s claims as well as the costs associated with an investigation by your licensing board. Some policies also compensate you for your loss of earnings while in court, mediation, or arbitration.

Product Liability Insurance

Product liability insurance protects you from the costs associated with injuries caused by products or equipment used when you train your clients.

For instance, you’re training a client on a TRX suspension system and the handle breaks. Your client crashes to the ground and injures their back. Even though you didn’t make the equipment, they could sue you since you advised them to use it. With product liability insurance, you’re protected from the legal costs.

Sexual Misconduct Liability

No one can predict what their clients might do. Physical training is an intimate process and clients can misinterpret your actions.

If a client claims you acted inappropriately you could find yourself in a lawsuit. Without sexual misconduct liability insurance, you’ll pay the legal bills and these cases can drag on for months or years. Sexual misconduct is not covered under general liability insurance, either.

Don’t leave your future and your business assets at risk. Work with an independent insurance agent to find appropriate coverage. They have access to many specialized insurance packages and can tailor the best policy to your business needs.

A qualified independent agent works for you, not the insurance companies. They do the legwork and you enjoy the best possible coverage and rates. It doesn’t make sense to go it alone in the complicated insurance world.

an Xray of a man needing California disability insurance

What You Need To Know About Disability Insurance

Disability insurance protects you if you become ill or have an accident by paying you a portion of your salary. Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether you need disability insurance.

What Are The Odds?

The Social Security Administration states that 1-in-5 Americans live with disabilities and 1-in-10 live with severe disabilities.

If you’re young and don’t think this could happen to you, think again. Today’s twenty year olds have more than a 1-in-4 chance of disability before retirement age. No one can predict disability and it can happen to anyone at any time.

Average Claim Length

According to the Council of Disability Awareness, the average long-term disability claim is about three years. That’s a long time to support yourself, and others, if you’re the principal bread earner.

Even if you’re a two income family, and experience a short-term disability, you could drain your savings, your Roth IRA, or need a loan on your 401k just to get by.

Workers’ Compensation

In California, workers’ compensation insurance covers work-related injury or illness, but unfortunately most long-term disabilities aren’t work-related. According to the National Safety Council, only 27% of long-term disabilities pertain to work.

California State Disability Insurance

Disability Insurance pays a weekly benefit for up to 52 weeks to qualified applicants when an injury or illness is NOT caused by or related to work. If you elected coverage since you’re self-employed, benefits are paid for a maximum of 39 weeks.

Benefits are usually between 60-70% of the wages you earned before your disability, but what happens after these benefits end?

Social Security

Social Security does provide benefits to qualified individuals, but only the most severely impaired qualify. The monthly disability benefit of $1,165 is barely above poverty level.

Employment Coverage

Your employer may offer a short-term as part of your benefits package and the option to buy a long-term policy, but a few words of caution. These policies may look attractive, but they seldom leave room for flexibility. Plus, if you leave the company or you’re laid off, you lose your coverage.

Credit Card Insurance

Some credit card issuers include disability coverage in their insurance offerings. It may seem a great deal since you pay a very low monthly fee, but you receive very little benefit. Typically, it only covers the minimum payment due on your card (2% to 3% of the balance) for a specific time.

Personal Policy

A personal policy stays with you as long as you pay your premiums and policy benefits can range from 40 to 65% of your income.

Two broad categories of disability coverage exist: “own occupation” and “any occupation.” With an “own occupation” policy, you’re covered when you are not fit enough to carry out the main duties of your job.

An “any occupation” policy covers you if you are too disabled to do any work. Since “any occupation” policies provide much broader coverage, they’re also more expensive.

Buy a non-cancellable AND guaranteed renewable policy. This ensures continual coverage and stable premiums. An inflation rider costs a bit more, but it also balances your benefit amount against the cost of living so it’s worthwhile.

Anyone can become disabled at any time. Don’t leave your future to chance. Discuss your needs with your independent insurance agent. You can buy a disability policy to suit your budget with their guidance.

They can adjust key policy variables, explain limits and exclusions, and tailor a policy so it provides good coverage at a reasonable cost.

the living room of someone who's about to take a home inventory in California

Creating a Home Inventory

Whether you live in a small apartment or a sprawling estate you probably own more than you realize.

Let’s look at the reasons why you need a home inventory and how to go about creating one for your apartment, condo, house, or rental property.

Why Create a Home Inventory?

Here are just a few of the most powerful reasons for preparing a home inventory:

  • Determines coverage amount and insurance type – You provide your local California insurance agent with the information they need to match your policy to your needs.
  • Simplifies the claims process – Your insurer has the documentation they need to settle your claim quickly.
  • You can’t remember what you own after a loss – If you have a fire or someone robs you, you’ll be too stressed and too busy to remember what you’ve lost.
  • You only realize something’s gone when you look for it later – You own things you don’t use regularly.
  • You underestimate the worth – When you list what you own it is usually worth much more than you realize.
  • You receive the “replacement cost” you deserve – If you’re paying for replacement cost insurance, the insurer has the information they need to replace the lost item with one of the same quality and kind.

Creating a Home Inventory

A home inventory is basically a list of the things you own along with images and their estimated value. Since most people own many items, it makes sense to use home inventory apps to record the information.

Three of the top apps are Sortly for iOS, Encircle for iOS & Android, and Magic Home inventory for Android only. They work on the desktop, too. Alternatively, you can always use a simple piece of paper or a spreadsheet – as long as you multiple copies saved in a secure location.

Tackle one small area, take your time, use specific descriptions, and take photos or videos of items including their serial numbers if they have them. If you have receipts, photograph them or store them in a folder.

The basement, deck, attic, crawlspace, garage, shed, carport, or storage lockers are often overlooked. Don’t forget about items off-premises or loaned to others either.

Once you have your list, it’s time to establish value. Apps really prove their worth here, since they’ll search the internet for comparable items. Alternatively, you can look on eBay or Craigslist for unusual or old items.

If you don’t have a receipt for high-ticket items, you will probably need an appraisal. Jewelry, antiques, collectibles, fine art, or expensive computer equipment, musical equipment, photography equipment, or sporting equipment are just a few of the items that benefit from an accurate value and specialized insurance.

Keep a Copy Outside of Your Home

Home inventory apps store a copy of your inventory and photographs in the cloud. If you decide to use paper, store a copy with your receipts with a friend or relative, or put it in your safety deposit box. If you use a spreadsheet, store it in the cloud.

Regularly Update

Create an electronic or paper folder to store receipts for new items. Update your inventory before your annual renewal time. An annual insurance review aligns your coverage with your needs. Your agent will not only look at your inventory, but check your policy limits to ensure they adequately protect your home and particular items.

Don’t dismiss a home inventory because you think it’s too much work. Creating a home inventory might take a bit of time, but it pays for itself by matching coverage to your needs, minimizing costs, and simplifying the claims process.

 

a man researching his Californian insurance rights

Know Your Rights: Insurance Primer for California Residents

If you live in California, it will please you to know that our state has the most laws protecting insurance policyholders in the U.S. These laws tell insurance companies and their representatives precisely how they must behave when you file a claim.

Unfortunately many people in the industry either don’t know the law or break laws intentionally. For this reason, even a basic understanding of these laws may help you obtain a fair and speedy settlement.

Ask for Copies

Your insurer should supply you with free copies of the laws that protect you as a homeowner 15 days after you file your claim. If they do not, ask them or access them yourself.

If you want more details regarding claims deadlines and the information necessary to exchange with your insurance company refer to California’s Fair Claim Handling Regulations.

Definition of Good Faith

Your insurance company has a legal obligation to investigate your claim, process it, and pay the full amount promptly. They must deal with you in “good faith” at all times.

This means your insurance company, everyone who works for them and all their communications must be honest when describing the details of the insurance policy they sell you and any rights and duties related to a claim.

Prompt, Honest, & Complete Communications

California law states your insurer must provide a complete response to communications based on known facts within 15 calendar days. If you ask a question or request copies of documents, always communicate through email or mail so you have a record.

When you file a claim, your insurer must provide you with information regarding claim deadlines, the statute of limitations for lawsuits, and tolling (postponement of the deadline to sue).

Cooperative Investigation

Your insurer must conduct an independent investigation when you file your claim. You’re legally required to cooperate and provide truthful information during the claims process, but you do not need to respond to unreasonable requests or harassment. If your insurer asks you to answer questions over the phone, ask for a copy of the questions and provide a written response instead.

An “Examination Under Oath” can only include questions relevant to your claim. Ask for a copy of the transcript and the recording, if applicable. You have the right to clarify your answers later.

Once the insurer accumulates the evidence they’ll determine a settlement amount. They must offer a fair and equitable settlement to restore your property to its condition before the loss.

Adjusting & Paying a Claim

When an insurer calculates your loss they need a contents list with replacement prices and receipts OR photographs/videos of your household items. They can’t compel you to provide receipts if you provide either photos or videos.

You can ask your insurer for a copy of any claim-related document such as photographs, estimates, measurements, adjustor reports, and depreciation schedules so you can review them.

Your insurer cannot compel you to use a specific contractor to repair or rebuild and they cannot depreciate items such as the foundation or framing. If they state an unusual reason for depreciation, ask for written proof of the law and a verified dollar value.

If you think the amount the insurance company offers is “unreasonably low” you don’t have to accept it and they can’t force you to do so. Insurance should restore the damaged property to its condition before the loss and your insurer can’t substitute lesser materials or workmanship to do so.

Seek an independent estimate and submit it to your insurance company if you think they’ve underestimated the work. They can either split the difference between the two estimates, hire a builder to restore your property to its “pre-loss condition” or make you a better offer.

If you have replacement cost coverage, you do not have to rebuild either. You can use the funds to buy elsewhere. You’ll probably need an independent estimate to determine the settlement amount.

Filing Complaints, Legal Services, & Lawsuits

Many homeowners feel they must just accept what their insurance company offers, but this isn’t the case if you think it is unfair or illegal. If you can’t come to a satisfactory agreement with your insurer, or you believe they’ve violated the law, you may need to act.

Your carrier can’t threaten, delay your claim, or withhold payment if you file a complaint with the California Department of Insurance, seek legal advice, or sue. Of course, these measures are your last resorts. Most insurance companies would rather settle, so exhaust all avenues with them first.

a dog at risk of biting someone and increasing home insurance rates

What You Need To Know About Pet Insurance And Biting Dogs

Most dog owners are fiercely devoted to their animals and treat them like a member of the family. However, owning a dog does increase your liability risk, no matter how well behaved you think they are. Even a minor incident can result in a lawsuit.

Dog-Related Liability Claims Common

A dog can bite when it feels threatened, scared, startled, stressed, unwell, or even during play. Even well-behaved, trained dogs can act out and bite or damage someone’s property. This can lead to a lengthy, costly lawsuit, steep medical expenses, compensation for pain and suffering and lost income, and punitive damages if you’re found negligent.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that dogs bite approximately 4.5 million people annually, or 1 in 72 people. Young children and seniors are the most likely victims.

From an insurance perspective, owning a dog is high-risk since dog-related damages account for over a third of all homeowner’s liability claims and come with a very large price tag. In 2017, these claims cost insurers almost $700 million.

Homeowner’s Insurance Policies Offer Little or No Coverage

Your California homeowner’s insurance policy may offer limited coverage for dog-related incidents, but many policies exclude animal liability coverage. Some homeowner’s insurance policies exclude breeds they consider dangerous such as Pit Bulls, Mastiffs, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds, so it is very important to review your policy with your insurance agent before picking out your next four-legged-friend.

Claims Can Cost You Dearly

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the national cost per claim increased more than 90 percent from 2003 to 2017. Larger court settlements and awards to the plaintiffs, plus ever-increasing medical costs suggest this trend will continue. In 2017, the average cost paid out for dog bite claims in California was a whopping $40,563 and our state had the most claims.

Dog Liability Insurance Coverage

If your homeowner’s policy limits coverage or does not provide it all, many carriers offer separate dog liability policies. Some insurers specialize in coverage for dogs considered too vicious for other carriers, too.

Dog liability insurance provides financial protection if someone files a claim against you. It is important to remember that the average claim amount mentioned above could easily reach 6-figures if your dog seriously harms another person. Medical bills grow quickly and certainly aren’t getting any cheaper. If your pet causes loss of life and/or destroys expensive property, you could pay much, much more.

Like any other insurance product, policy limits vary as does cost. Rely on our independent insurance agents for unbiased advice. Partee Insurance Associates has helped California households protect their interests since 1972. So if you’re in need of proper dog liability coverage, talk to us.

 

people discussing ways to reduce their California business insurance costs

Tips For Reducing Business Insurance Costs In California

No one wants to pay more than necessary for their California business insurance, so it’s important you explore all your options. These tips can help you reduce your California insurance premiums, while staying well-protected.

Use an Independent Agent

Business owners have better things to do with their time than searching for the best insurance for their company. Besides, finding appropriate coverage at an affordable price requires expertise.

Using an independent insurance agent makes sense for many reasons. First, they know the industry and have access to many products. They may find a carrier that specializes in your industry that provides the precise coverage you need.

Second, they work for you and not the insurance companies. Third, they do the legwork and compare prices and coverage to find you the best possible coverage at the most reasonable cost.

Finally, they tailor your coverage to your needs so you don’t pay for frills you won’t use and focus your insurance dollars where they’re needed most. They’ll ensure you have sufficient coverage and receive the discounts you deserve.

Reduce Risk

Insurers offer rates based on many factors. These include the carrier, your business type and industry, where you operate, and the likelihood of incidents. When you reduce of incidents, you can often enjoy more favorable premiums.

Common ways to reduce risk include business safety improvements. These may be simple and inexpensive, such as switching to rubber mats or adding a guardrail in a dangerous area.

More costly items such as a sprinkler or security system are easy to justify in your budget when you recoup your investment through substantially reduced premiums. As items reach the end of their useful life, you may also be able to tap into previously unavailable discounts by buying particular products.

A thorough risk management review including you exposure to cybercrime and a good safety training program are also an excellent way to prevent losses and minimize risk. Fewer incidents can lead to an improved EMR and lower premiums.

Check Classifications

Unintentional employee misclassifications can lead to unnecessarily high premiums if you choose a category more likely to experience injuries or illness. Intentional misclassification can lead to heavy fines and legal action and you may not have coverage when you need it most.

Talk to your broker about any personnel changes as soon as possible. If you’re unsure of how to classify an employee, your broker can provide a reliable answer.

Pay Your Full Premium

Paying insurance premiums in installments may be convenient, but it also more costly. You’re charged a fee much like when you take out a loan. The cost of insurance is part of doing business, so it makes sense to budget for the expense annually and to pay your full premium.

Bundle Your Policies

Bundling your existing general liability, commercial property, commercial auto, and income insurance premiums into a Business Owner’s Policy can often lead to lower premiums than buying these policies separately.

Work with an insurance professional to avoid coverage duplication and insurance gaps. Some businesses require insurance riders or additional coverage a BOP can’t provide.

Re-Examine Your Deductible

When you increase your deductible, you lower your premiums. However, this isn’t something you should do without discussing the implications with your broker.

If you operate a large business with plenty of cash flow, this might not be an issue. If you operate a smaller business with tight margins, this may not be a viable option as it could be too much burden for your company to bear.

Access Professional Groups

Many professional groups offer insurance discounts or group rates to their members. Many medical, veteran, business, rotary, and union organizations offer perks your business could enjoy, and insurance benefits. Your independent agent may have insider knowledge of organizations that might suit your industry and company.

Annual Insurance Review

Automatically renewing your policies and carrying on with payments isn’t in your best interests. An annual review ensures your insurance always reflects the current state of your business and uncovers any applicable discounts.

Your agent will want to know about any changes to your business model and your business growth. They’ll adjust your insurance accordingly so you pay for what you need, avoid duplication, and protect your business well.

a home safety checklist for California homeowners

Keep Your Home Safe With This Checklist

Whether you’ve just moved into a new home or lived there for years, safety is always of utmost importance. Use this checklist for regular home inspections to ensure everything’s shipshape always.

  • Change Window & Door Locks – If you just moved in, were robbed, lost your keys, or you want to limit who has access to your home, consider changing the locks. Smart locks allow you to manage access from your smartphone from wherever you are. Otherwise, ensure you have good quality deadbolts on all doors.
  • Locate Electrical Meter & Breaker Box – If you don’t know where these are, you should. Learn how to switch off the electricity and mark all the breakers so you know which controls what.
  • Locate Water Shut-Off Valve – You need to know where it is and how to shut off the water when you’re away or there’s an emergency. Try the valve to ensure it works properly. You may want to install a water alarm to alert you if there’s a problem.
  • Inspect Pipes – Check for corrosion, leaks, and weak connections. Water damage is very costly to correct and can lead to mold and mildew issues.
  • Change Filters & Clean Air Ducts – Clean filters ensure your HVAC equipment works at peak efficiency and the filters remove harmful contaminants. Clean the heating ducts in your home annually and do not block airflow from registers.
  • Inspect Furnace & Air Conditioner – Have a professional inspect your furnace and air conditioner to ensure its in good working order.
  • Test Smoke & CO2 Detectors & Change Batteries – The U.S. Fire Administration recommends monthly tests and battery changes at least once or twice annually. The useful life of detectors is typically 10 years, so replace old units.
  • Secure Dangerous Chemicals – Store cleaning supplies, garden chemicals, solvents, and fuel for gas-powered equipment in locked cabinets away from possible ignition sources. Recycle unwanted items as soon as possible.
  • Check Extension Cords – Check for frayed wires and loose connectors. Replace or repair as needed. Never run extension cords under rugs or across doorways.
  • Check Electrical Devices – Replace outdated appliances and repair any device with a worn or frayed cord.
  • Review Electrical Outlets – Ensure outlets aren’t overloaded with cords. Use power strips with surge protection on equipment susceptible to damage. Only plug in one high-wattage appliance in each outlet.
  • Clean dryer vent – Clean the dryer vent annually to reduce fire risk.
  • Clean & Inspect Chimney, Fireplace, or Wood Stove – Hire a professional to inspect and clean the chimney and wood burning devices annually.
  • Inspect Fire Extinguishers – Ensure you have fully-charged fire extinguishers. Replace as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Review Emergency Plan – Perform at least two fire escape practices annually and review important information such as alternate escape routes and a meeting place during a disaster.
  • Advertise the Security System – Add stickers to windows indicating you have a wireless alarm system, even if you don’t have one. If you don’t have one, consider adding a video camera and motion detector lights.
  • Tend to the Yard – Trim shrubs and trees so they do not block the view to your home to discourage burglars.
  • Check the Garage – Install a good deadbolt between the garage and your home and do not leave remotes in vehicles when you’re vacationing.
  • Secure Patio Door – Add a metal bar or dowel so the door can’t be opened easily.
  • Get a Roof Inspection – A faulty roof can cause extensive damage. Most roofing contractors offer inspections and gutter cleaning for a reasonable cost.
  • Care for Home While Vacationing – Ensure someone cuts your lawn and picks up your mail while you’re away. Entrust a friend with a key to your home and your car. Leave your home as it would be if you were there.
  • Check Insurance Coverage – An annual review of your homeowner’s insurance policy ensures your insurance meets your current needs. Don’t renew automatically without discussing your coverage with your agent or broker, otherwise you might find you’re poorly covered when you need assistance the most.

This checklist is just a good starting point for home safety. You probably have other items you’ll want to add, but the more often you inspect your home the less likely you are to experience problems.

a teen driver that needs to be added to a California auto insurance policy

What You Need To Know About Adding A Teenage Driver To Your Auto Insurance Policy

Most parents realize adding a teenaged driver to their California auto insurance policy will cause their premiums to increase, but they’re shocked when they discover just how much more expensive it really is. Fortunately, you have many options to reduce the impact and save money.

Contact Your Agent

In California, most insurance companies will cover a teen once they get their learner’s permit, but don’t assume anything. Talk to your agent to ensure they’re covered under your policy before they get behind the wheel.

Once they get their driver’s license, you must ask your agent to add them to your policy or buy a separate policy. However, buying a separate policy is usually far more expensive.

Because they’re inexperienced, teens are much more likely to have accidents and incur violations, so premiums could easily double. Rely on the expertise and access that an independent insurance agent provides to obtain multiple quotes to find the best possible coverage at the most reasonable rate.

Driver’s Education

In California, a teenager must take driver’s education at 15 1/2 years old to get a learner’s permit and by age 17 1/2 to get a provisional license. Some insurers offer discounts for teens that complete these driver safety classes. Driving safely gradually decreases premiums too.

Spend Time With Teenage Driver

Getting a piece of plastic and taking a driver’s education class doesn’t ensure your child is a good driver. If you want to keep them safe, spend time with them as they learn and coach them kindly.

California law requires a licensed driver over 25 accompany the teenager for the first year if they have passengers under 20-years of age in the vehicle and when they drive between 11 pm and 5 am.

Share Your Vehicles

Typically, extending coverage for a teenage driver to a vehicle you already own costs less than insuring another. If you own several vehicles, your teenager will either become the primary or secondary driver on the vehicle. It costs less if they’re a secondary driver.

However, when you own three vehicles and only two of you drive now your agent will assign one to your teenager as the primary driver. Assigning the least expensive vehicle to insure to your teenager can help keep costs down.

Buy Wisely

If your teenager needs their own vehicle, you may qualify for a multi-vehicle discount, but the vehicle you choose impacts your insurance greatly. Generally, older makes and models with good safety ratings cost less to insure since they’re safer and less expensive to repair.

However, some insurance companies offer discounts for new vehicles if they have advanced safety features. You may also qualify for a discount if you buy a fuel-efficient car. Talk to your agent before you buy to avoid any unwelcome surprises.

Consider Usage-Based Coverage

Fitting a vehicle with a telematics device can help offset your higher insurance costs. Telematics provide useful data to insurance companies such as miles driven and driver habits. Parents can use the data to teach teenagers better driving behavior, and insurance companies often offer a healthy discount too.

Good Student Discount

If your teenager maintains a “B” or better average, you may qualify for a discount with some insurers. According to the DMV, statistics show good students are lower risk. Some companies may continue this discount for some time after your teenager finishes school too.

Using an independent insurance agent is the best way to ensure you’re properly covered. We work for you, know the ins and outs of the California insurance landscape, and have access to many insurance products. Car insurance for your teenager doesn’t need to be prohibitively expensive. Rely on an insurance agency like yours to find you the right coverage at the best possible price.

an online business that needs insurance

Why You Need To Insure Your Online Business

Even though an online business usually does not have a brick and mortar office, it does not mean it does not face risks. Protecting an online business requires a tailored insurance policy to meet the specific needs of your business. These are just a few things you may want to consider before you dismiss insurance.

Lawsuits Occur More Often Than You Might Think

When a business doesn’t actually see their customers it can be easy to overlook the threat of lawsuits, but a lawsuit can occur at any time and blindside your business.

For instance, in 2017 California state courts saw an unprecedented number of cases claiming online business did not meet the Americans with Disabilities Title III accessibility requirements.

Even though the courts dismissed several of the cases, it was only because the companies made some accommodations for customers such as a 24/7 toll-free telephone number on their website manned with live customer service agents. However, these decisions don’t guarantee other businesses will get off the hook or that other judges will see things in the same light.

A lawsuit against an online company is time-consuming and expensive, especially since customers are often spread out all over the country, or even the world. General liability insurance provides an affordable cushion against the costs involved in a lawsuit.

You Risk Your Professional Livelihood

If you’re in the “professional services” or consulting business, you are at great risk. Clients can sue if they believe your business was negligent or failed to perform their professional services, even if it is not true.

Business consultants that recommend changes could find themselves in a lawsuit if the client loses money, even if it wasn’t their fault. Professional liability insurance reimburses you for lawyer fees, judgments and court costs which could cripple your company or put it out of business.

It also protects marketing consultants, design professionals, and software engineers from lawsuit costs pertaining to copyright or trademark infringement.

You Rely Heavily On Your Equipment

Even if you don’t operate in an office, you rely heavily on your equipment to operate remotely. You may own a top-of-the-line computer, office equipment, and perhaps industry specific machines too.

If anything happens to your equipment, business grinds to a halt and you stop earning money. A business owner’s policy can protect your property from physical damage, and if someone injures themselves while visiting your place of business. It also protects you from claims of libel and slander.

You Rely on Third-Parties

Almost all online businesses rely on third-parties. You use an internet provider, access web-based software, and perhaps rely on suppliers and a shipping company if you supply physical goods.

If any of these third-parties experience issues, it could interrupt your business and affect your bottom line. Business interruption insurance can help you recoup your losses during a prolonged outage so you can stay afloat.

You’re More Susceptible to Hacks

You’re online more often and you’re more susceptible to hacks, especially if you operate an e-commerce business. Your company deals with sensitive customer data and stores valuable information in its database, and a data breach can have a severe financial and reputational impact on your company.

Symantec estimates the cost of a data breach to an E-commerce retailer is about $172 per record, and the frequency and variety of threats continues to increase. A security breach means lost customers and possible lawsuits if the criminal compromises a customer’s identity. Cyber liability insurance is an affordable option to protect you from these risks.

Partner with an independent insurance agency like ours to protect your online business properly. We’ll examine your risks and tailor a policy for excellent protection and affordable premiums. Remember, we work for you, not the insurance companies.