Car Crashes: a word to the wise from the not-so-wise

Honda CR-V photographed in Rockville, Maryland...

Image via Wikipedia

Let it be stated for the record that I, Corbin Foucart, am henceforth a TERRIBLE driver. This shall be reflected in both my crushed ego and in my insurance premium. However, until 6:57 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, April 1st 2011, I considered myself a good driver. Why the transformation? Because that morning I took my cherished 1994 Honda CR-V and slammed it into a tree.

Now some explanation. I don’t have the right to make excuses; I was ENTIRELY at fault, BUT…

  1. The roads were slippery. It was snowing on April 1st!!
  2. The roads on which I drove were untouched by plows.
  3. Another student totaled her car on the same road that morning. Misery loves company.
  4. I was going around a curve
  5. I was going very slowly (Less than 20 mph). The airbags didn’t go off, and there was barely an impact.

…but I know that I should have been traveling even slower.

As I rounded the curve, the Honda began to slip off the road. Threshold braking did not help at all. Under different circumstances, I would have described the “crunch” sound as very satisfying. At the moment, it sounded like the lid of my own coffin closing. I tried shifting into reverse and backing out, but the Honda had grown attached to the tree and was holding it in a twisted metal embrace. So I called home. Uh oh.

My mom actually thought it was an April fool’s joke. I had to repeat myself several times before she understood that I wasn’t pulling her leg.

 I totaled the car; even though it wasn’t that bad of a crash, the undercarriage was bent.

What I find weird is that it wasn’t a stereotypical ‘bad morning’. I’d been accepted by Stanford, my dream school, the day before and that morning I was still running on a feeling of elation.  I was in no rush, and was looking forward to the day. Needless to say, the collision brought me crashing –no pun intended- back down to Earth. In the grand scheme of things, a totaled car is a small price to pay for my sister’s life and my own, but still frustrating nevertheless. The very sobering reality is that now I have no personal freedom to travel where I please. Doing things I took for granted with a car now has to be coordinated in advance.  

An interesting article by Insurance journal (which is worth having your teen read, by the way) states the a new study showed that the vast majority of teen crashes are caused by failing to scan for possible hazards, speeding, or becoming distracted. While I would argue that my personal case falls under the category of “poor weather or road conditions”, which they cite as rare, I know from the vast majority of accidents and fender-benders my peers are involved in that these three causes are legitimate. Another student I know totalled his car earlier in the year going to fast and driving into a rock wall. Another student did the exact same thing last month. Another student I know hit a tree while texting in the car. I’m sure as a reader you can think of countless similar anecdotal evidence to support the article’s conclusions.

The moral of the story to me is that accidents can happen WHENEVER you let your guard down.  Be safe, be vigilant, and as I’ve learned, BE SLOW!

The tree could not be reached for comment.

What Can We Do Better?

Loyal viewers, bloggers, and anyone with spare time on their hands:

At A. G. Gordon, Inc., we’ve been working on giving our blog better features in order to better serve you in your search for insurance information and resources. Please feel free to drop us a comment (or an email) about what we could do to make you happy. We aim to please. If you find yourself speechless, here is a quick survey of what you think we should change on our blog.

Any feedback given is greatly appreciated.

-The A. G. Gordon Team

Be Kind to Yourself: De-Stress Your Life

Cover of "In Praise of Slowness: How A Wo...

Cover via Amazon

Now that we’re beyond the stress of holiday preparations, shopping, and the flurry of social activities and obligations, it may be the perfect time to welcome in 2011 with an evaluation of the demands on our everyday life.

Carl Honore is the author of “In Praise of Slowness” which describes our culture’s addiction to “more—better—faster”.  His response to this is “Be here now.”  He indicates that Americans with full-time jobs and children under 18 years of age are particularly stressed.  Long hours at work are shortchanging families.  One way to change this lifestyle is to add balance.  Cutting down on outside activities or time spent in front of the TV may provide more time that can be spent with the children. 

Key to de-stressing is slowing down and enjoying the minutiae of life, thus improving the quality of our existence.  Discovering activities such as meditation, gardening, bird watching, reading, etc also helps one to slow down and celebrate the small moments.  These can provide calmness, peace and quiet to your life.

The quality of life should be most important to us all and we should enjoy each and every day as well as celebrate all the relationships we share with others.

Donna M. Bellavance
Andrew G. Gordon, Inc.
Insurance & Risk Management

For topical and timely insurance issues, visit  http://www.agordon.com

Sweetheart Trivia

 

Did you know the best-selling Valentine’s Day candies are not Godiva chocolates but our own locally manufactured Sweetheart Conversation Hearts? Over 8 billion candy hearts with romantically inspired messages were sold last year by the New England Confectionary Company located in Revere, Ma. 

We can credit the American colonists for starting the practice of making a gift of candy with a message inscribed on it.  Early American would make homemade hard candies and etch messages into the surface to give to a sweetheart.  Around the time of the Civil War, Oliver Chase decided to turn a tradition into a successful candy business by founding New England Confectionary Company

They originally manufactured candy in the shape of a seashell with the message printed on a piece of paper wedged into the candy shell. A major innovation was introduced in 1902 when NECCO produced the candies called Sweet Hearts with the mottoes printed directly on the pastel candies.  They offered hearts, seashell and other interesting shapes like horseshoes and baseballs.   

Times have changed and so have the flavors and mottos of Valentine’s Day most loved confection. NECCO recently introduced new flavors and sayings. The new flavors include strawberry, green apple, lemon, grape, orange, and blue raspberry. For the first time in its 145-year history, the public was invited to participate in an online survey to decide which phrases of love would appear on conversation hearts . The winners include: “Tweet Me,” “Text Me,” “You Rock,” “Soul Mate,” “Love Bug,” and “Me + You.” They join classic expressions that continue to appear on the candies: “Puppy Love,” “Sweet Love,” “Sweat Pea,” and “Love Me.”

New sayings also featured food-inspired phrases, such as “Recipe 4 Love,” “Table 4 Two,” and “Top Chef.”

Some favorites among the more than one hundred Sweetheart sayings have been in circulation since the hearts were first factory-made in 1902. These classics include “Kiss Me,” “Sweet Talk,” and “Be Mine.” Sometimes a motto is discontinued for a time and then makes a reappearance while others are gone but not forgotten.  No worries- it may not be long before  “Dig Me” makes a sweetheart of a comeback!

Visit our website www.agordon.com for important and timely information on insurance topics for you and your sweetheart.

Kasey McCarthy, CPCU

Manager

www.agordon.com

Get My Drift?

Snow, snow, everywhere…. I know, we have all seen enough of the white stuff, it seems like it is never going to stop piling up.  It seems that we all have done nothing this winter but shovel, snow blow, and plow. 

However, there are a few places that might be forgotten but are extremely important to keep clear.  The most important one are the fire hydrants.  It is imperative that in the case of a fire, the firefighters are able to find and actually use them – your home could be at stake.   The electric and gas meters should be kept clear as well, think of the poor meter readers that may not even be able to find the meter to read.   At least the gas and electric companies will estimate the readings if it cannot be read.  How about the pipe that fills the oil tank??  If the oil delivery person cannot get to the pipe, you may not get that very important oil delivery – this is not the winter to run out of oil!  What about your mail box?  How long are those postal worker’s arms anyways? 

So, bottom line, take a look around your house to make sure that anybody that may need  to get to your house, actually can.  If you are able-bodied, please, check your neighbors, especially the elderly. 

Sooner or later, these piles will shrink down to nothing, but in the meantime, be careful!!  For topical information on insurance issues, visit our website: www.agordon.com

Sue Renfrew    

Account Representative                                                 

www.agordon.com

Ice Dams – what to do

Many homeowners may have ice dams forming on their roofs after all the snow we’ve had this winter. Once an ice dam forms, it is difficult to fix. The safest course is to hire a professional because of the dangers of falling snow and icicles, unsecured ladders, and possible damage to shingles and gutters.

If you choose to do the work yourself, take extreme care and follow these recommendations from contracting experts:
1. Use a roof rake to remove snow buildup from the roof.

a. AVOID USING A ROOF RAKE NEAR ANY ELECTRICAL WIRING!
b. DO NOT climb on a roof or work on a ladder beneath a roof that has lots of snow on it
c. Be especially careful on ladders; be sure the base is well secured.
2. Remove ice buildup around gutters by melting the ice with calcium chloride (other products such as rock salt will damage the roof shingles). For added effectiveness, put the melting agent inside a sock or nylon stocking, and lay perpendicular to the gutters or roof line. This creates a channel in the ice dam, releasing the melting agent slowly and allowing the water to drip to the ground through.
3. After applying a melting agent, if you must chip the ice, do so very carefully. NEVER strike your roof with an axe, hammer, or anything that will damage the shingles.

Warning signs: Aside from leaks, stains, and damaged ceilings or walls, there are several signs that ice dams are beginning to cause interior damage.
• Large icicles hanging from the gutters during cold-snaps following snow storms.
• A thick blanket of snow down slope of bare shingles points toward trouble.
• Water dripping from the roof over a layer of ice is a hint that a dam has formed.
Visit our website at www.agordon.com for a list of local contractors who are trained at removing ice dams safely and effectively. The cost to have ice dams removed from your home is usually less than your deductible!
For other tips on keeping the cost of your homeowner’s insurance low, visit www.agordon.com/home, or view our library of whiteboard presentations at www.agordon.com/whiteboards.

Handling Replacement Costs

An assortment of United States coins, includin...

Image via Wikipedia

Last week I attended a class on Commercial Property from the National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research. I found that as much as you think you know, there’s always something new to learn. If one new piece of information comes to light, then it’s worth the 3 day class! The new piece of information that I learned is how replacement cost coverage is handled on “Stock”.

On a Commercial Property policy, coverage for Buildings and Business Personal Property may be written on a Replacement Cost vs. an Actual Cash Value basis. Actual Cash Value, or its acronym, ACV, is a depreciated settlement based upon a negotiated portion of total cost of replacement or repair of the insured’s property. Replacement cost is an insurance settlement based upon the actual cost to replace or repair the insured’s property at the time of loss.

Business Personal Property (BPP) is defined as: office furniture & fixtures, machinery & equipment and stock. Opting for replacement cost coverage on BPP does not give replacement cost coverage to stock (even though it’s part of BPP). You must additionally opt for replacement cost coverage on stock. Replacement Cost Coverage is indicated separately on the insurance policy for Building, BPP and Stock.

A classic example is the plumbing contractor. The plumber has opted for replacement cost coverage for his Building, BPP and Stock. Examples of his Business Personal Property would be: office furniture, photocopier, fax machine, telephone system, plumbing torches, compressor and generator. Stock would be: pipes, tubing and fittings.

Call us to review any coverage questions or concerns that you may have.  At A.G.G., we strive to build you a better mouse trap!

Bill C.
A.G. G
ordon, Inc.

For more insurance information, visit the A. G. Gordon Website.

Movie Review: Press the Like Button for Social Network

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

 

“You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.”  This tagline accurately sums up the premise of the newly released movie Social Network.   A  night out with my 14 year old daughter and friends brought me to the local theatre for a showing of this highly anticipated  motion picture. Sharp- witted with clever dialogue and an intriguing storyline, I highly recommend this film.

The movie is the story of the litigation brought against Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook.  The story begins in 2003 when Harvard undergrad and computer programming whiz Zuckerberg  launches a website called The Facebook . Despite Zuckerberg’s success, his personal life begins to suffer as he becomes marred in legal disputes and discovers that many of the 500 million people he befriended during his rise to the top are eager to see him fall. Chief among the growing list of detractors is Zuckerberg’s former college friend Eduardo Saverin , whose generous financial contributions to Facebook served as the seed that helped the company to grow. Some might also argue that Zuckerberg’s bold venture wouldn’t have evolved into the cultural phenomenon that it ultimately became had Napster founder Sean Parker not spread the word about Facebook to the venture capitalists from Silicon Valley.  In the meantime, two Harvard undergrads accuse Zuckerberg of stealing their idea and engage in a brutal courtroom battle for ownership of Facebook.

Early in the movie it becomes clear, Zuckerberg’s life is somewhat of an anomaly. The Harvard undergrad founds the world’s most renowned and addictive social tool while epitomizing arrogance and boorish behavior in his personal relationships.  He easily becomes the most despised student on campus with the launch of a website to rank Harvard coeds before transforming into campus hero with the release of Harvard’s exclusive The Facebook. 

It takes a long time to find a likable character in the Social Network. The individual I admired most was Saverin, Facebook’s co-founder and former CFO. He is a sympathetic  character and actor Andrew Garfield was masterful in his portrayal. Saverin is  a smart, good kid who truly just wants to help out his friend in what he thinks may be  a great business venture. Ultimately, Saverin gets completely cheated out of his share of the profits by the evolving equity partnerships initiated by Zuckerberg.   It is difficult not to want Saverin to win his lawsuit against Zuckerberg.

The ending of the movie may not be the end of the story for twenty-six year old Mark Zuckerberg and seven year old Facebook.   A good question to post to Zuckerberg after a less than flattering cinematic portrayal, “what’s on your mind, Mark”?

Kasey McCarthy, A G Gordon, Inc.

Though we don’t have 500 million friends, we can help you save money on insurance, as well as provide topical and relevant information, so visit us on the A. G. Gordon, Inc. Homepage.

Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite!

Bedbug

Image via Wikipedia

You can’t scroll the internet or listen to the news without hearing about  the harsh reality of bedbug infestations in hotels, planes, theatres, campuses, hospitals and office buildings.  This public health issue is quickly becoming a global crisis with sightings of these creepy critters from most U.S. cities  to the far reaches of Mumbai, India.

However, there are several measures you can take to minimize the risk of bedbug bites and infestation. Some include: checking your hotel mattress and keeping luggage away from soft bedding or upholstered furniture so you don’t transport the unwanted guests back home. Yard sale aficionados  need to think twice about snagging upholstered sofas  or chairs left at the curb.  These tips may help to minimize your exposure to bed bug bites and property infestation.

What happens if you do have an infestation? Will insurance pay the costly expense to eradicate the pesky pests? Unfortunately, insurance usually isn’t the answer here.   Most policies exclude insect infestation of any kind and do not include any coverage. “…The cost of getting rid of bedbugs, like other vermin, is considered part of the maintenance associated with owning a home and generally is not covered by standard homeowners’ and renter insurance policies,”  wrote Claire Wilkinson, Vice President for Global Issues at the Insurance Information Institute; “Most standard commercial-property insurance policies also have vermin exclusions for infestation”.

Most seasoned insurance agents will agree that insurance property coverage forms clearly exclude coverage for bedbug treatment; however, liability coverage may be a different  bug story. Ever think what would happen if a guest  is bitten by a bedbug at your home? Or perhaps your child has a sleepover and a young guest is bitten, resulting in infection and ongoing medical treatment. Before you know it,  you are being sued by the parents for negligence as a result of harboring the bloodthirsty buggers.  The good news is most homeowners liability policy forms do not exclude insects so there is probably liability coverage for this kind of lawsuit.. The same is true for commercial policies if the policy form does not specifically exclude insects. In addition, many businesses have coverage under business interruption forms if the need to close their business to properly exterminate the creepy crawlers arises.

Insurers may end up feeling the bite from bedbugs in other ways. New York state legislators became the first state to introduce a bill that would require bed bug coverage as an option for policyholders.  If NY passes this law, look for other states to follow suit.

It will be an interesting few months in the insect and insurance world as the globe grapples to safely avoid a 21st century plague. 

And for more relevant and topical insurance information, visit the A. G. Gordon, Inc. Website.

Hurricane Preparation: Take 2

Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico near i...

Image via Wikipedia

 

Hurricane Earl was not as bad for New England as weather experts anticipated. Where I was, there were 2-3 inches of rain and some light wind gusts; no apocalyptic storm was this. But that’s ok; it served as practice for the peak of Hurricane Season, which we have just begun to experience.   

I had gone to the grocery store and bought three cases of bottled water in anticipation of Earl; as frustrating as it was to waste time and money on preparations such as these, it was and is a good idea to prepare before any major storm. There is no time like the present to make a survival kit, draw up an evacuation plan, or check your insurance coverage. All these things become exponentially more difficult to accomplish when an actual hurricane is approaching.  

One of the most helpful things you can do insurance-wise is to take pictures/video of your house. Should a devastating storm occur along with damage, having photographic evidence of what exactly was damaged will facilitate your interaction with your insurance provider.   

One of the greatest tragedies of Hurricane Katrina was the amount of displaced animals after the disaster occurred. Before any sort of storm is forecast, make sure you have up-to-date pictures and paperwork of your pets, as well as immunization records. Should the need arise to keep a pet at a shelter or clinic following evacuation, it is vital to have all this paperwork and identification information at hand. Appropriately sized pet-carriers should also be purchased before hurricane season in case of evacuation (pet carriers should have enough room for pets to stand and turn around in). After a large storm, pets should be walked on leashes to become re-acclimated to their new environments. Avoid large pools of water, as downed power lands and displaced reptiles could pose a threat to household pets.   

After a storm is forecast, make sure automobiles have full tanks of gas. If evacuated, traffic and congestion will arise. Running out of fuel while waiting in traffic on the highway would only compound the danger of a hurricane or severe storm.
Lastly, KNOW YOUR INSURANCE COVERAGE. Most flood damage is not covered by homeowners policies.    

For more relevant insurance resources to save you time and money, visit the Andrew G. Gordon, Inc. website.