Memories

A still photo of a Winston advertisement featu...

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Remember when:

  • It took 2 minutes for the TV to warm up
  • Your dad made all the decisions
  • Your windshield was cleaned, radiator & oil checked and gas served, without asking, all for free, each & every time
  •  Car keys were always ‘stored’ in the ignition
  • Hula hoops, Jacks & Pick up sticks
  • Penny candy that cost a penny
  • Home milk delivery in glass bottles
  • 33’s & 45’s played on Hi Fi record players
  • Adding machines, mimeograph machines &  typewriters
  • Water balloon fights
  • A neighbor’s new car was the talk of the neighborhood
  • Chinese food was an occasional treat
  • Suits, ties, hats, dresses & gloves were worn to church and on airplanes
  • Bundle boys carried your groceries to your car
  • Sen Sen
  • Brill Cream-  “ A little dab will do ya”
  • Scooter pies
  • Kerosene smudge pots used as highway flares
  • Car tires had inner tubes
  • Wallpaper was hung with wheat paste and every room was wallpapered.
  • All barbeque grills used briquettes
  • Stores and malls were closed on Sundays
  • You had to manually defrost your freezer
  • Polaroid instant cameras
  • The Ivory Soap twins
  • “Winston tastes good, like a cigarette should”
  • Pepsi Cola hits the spot, 10 full ounces, that’s a lot!Remember the slogan, “Your Independent Insurance Agent serves you first”? At A. Gordon Insurance, times haven’t changed. Our friendly staff at A. Gordon Insurance continues to put you first!


Risk in Perspective: Insight and Humor in the Age of Risk Management

Appealing a Surcharge

 

Before you start the process of appealing a surcharge, it is important to first understand how the Merit Rating Board and Safe Driver Insurance Plan (SDIP) work.

 The Merit Rating Board:

All Massachusetts auto insurance companies are required to report at-fault accidents and out-of-state driving records to the Merit Rating Board (MRB). The MRB is the state agency that maintains driving records.
The MRB driving record consists of surchargeable incidents. A surchargeable incident is any event in which you are:

  1. Convicted of, or pay a fine for, a motor vehicle violation
  2. Assigned to an alcohol education program or controlled substance treatment or rehabilitation program
  3. Found to be more than 50 percent at fault for an accident, and your insurance company makes a claim payment above a certain threshold

If you decide not to pursue an appeal, the surcharge can increase your premium and SDIP step.
In addition, each surchargeable incident counts toward possible license suspension.

You are considered to be more than 50 percent at fault in an accident if your insurance company:

  1. Finds you at fault according to one of the 19 At-Fault Standards  and
  2. Has paid a claim of more than $500 for Collision, Limited Collision, Damage to Someone Else’s Property, or Bodily Injury to Others.

Safe Driver Insurance Plan (SDIP)
The Safe Driver Insurance Plan (SDIP) is mandated by state law to establish classifications of risks to fairly reflect the driving records of insureds and adjust premiums based in part on at-fault accidents. The Plan encourages safe driving by rewarding drivers who do not cause accidents or incur traffic law violations with a credit to their automobile insurance premiums, and discourages unsafe driving by requiring high-risk drivers to pay a greater share of insurance costs. Massachusetts, unlike many comparable jurisdictions that afford no or limited due process rights, provides the right to a hearing before an impartial hearing officer of the Board.

If you believe that you are not more than 50% at-fault for an accident in which you received a surcharge, you may appeal the motor vehicle accident surcharge to the Division of Insurance Board of Appeal.

Your insurance company will mail you a Notice of Surcharge.

  1. If any of the information listed on the Surcharge Notice is incorrect (name, driver’s license number or date of accident), contact the issuing insurance company to make the corrections before appealing.
  2. If you do not receive a Surcharge Notice or misplace it:
  3. Contact your insurance agent for a copy of the Surcharge Notice     OR
  4. Request a late appeal from the Merit Rating Board.
  5. Complete the Surcharge Appeal Form located on the reverse side of the Notice of Surcharge.
  • The appeal must be filed within 30 days of the surcharge date.
  • If you did not submit your appeal within 30 days because you never received a Surcharge Notice, you must obtain a Late Appeal from the Merit Rating Board. The Board of Appeal must receive the Late Appeal within 30 days of your policy renewal.
  1. Submit a $50.00 check or money order payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts/Board of Appeal.
  • The fee is non-refundable.
  1. Mail your appeal to the post office box designated on the application. Late appeals must be sent directly to the Division of Insurance, Board of Appeal.
  2. Upon receipt of your surcharge application, the Board will mail you a postcard to acknowledge your appeal. Your cancelled check will serve as an additional receipt of your filing.
  3. The Board will mail you a Notice of Hearing approximately 3 weeks prior to your hearing date.
  4. Appeal hearings are scheduled in Boston, Brockton, Cambridge, Peabody, Plymouth, Somerville, Springfield, Waltham, or Worcester. Carefully note the location of your hearing listed on the Notice. Directions are included at the bottom of the Hearing Notice.
  5. Upon receipt of the Hearing Notice, you have three options for which to pursue the appeal:
    1. Appear in Person.
      Bring your Hearing Notice to the scheduled location.
      Bring copies of all relevant information, any documents/photographs etc. that you want the Hearing Officer to consider when making the decision.
    2. Submit a Written Statement in lieu of your appearance.
      The Board must receive your written or typed statement via mail or facsimile at least 5 days priorto your hearing. The statement must include:
      • copies of all relevant information, any documents/photographs etc. that you want the Hearing Officer to consider in making the decision
      • your signature on the Hearing Notice that identifies you are waiving a personal appearance in favor of your written statement & affirms that your statement is truthful.
    3. Select a representative to appear on your behalf.
      If you elect to submit a written statement via a representative, instead of appearing in person, it must include:

      • Copies of all relevant information, any documents/photographs etc. that you want the Hearing Officer to consider in making the decision
      • your signature on the Hearing Notice that identifies you are waiving a personal appearance in favor of your written statement & affirms that your written statement is truthful.

The hearing is informal and public, lasting approximately 20 – 30 minutes. The Hearing Officer will make an audio tape recording of the hearing. You and your insurance company representative will be given an opportunity to present all pertinent information. You may also bring a witness or a witness statement to the hearing. The Hearing Officer may ask you or the representative questions to clarify the information presented or the circumstances of the accident.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the Hearing Officer will take your appeal under advisement. The facts and circumstances presented will be reviewed in accordance with the governing laws and regulations.

The Memorandum of Finding and Order, the Board’s decision, will be mailed to you within 2-4 weeks. The Board will also contact the Commonwealth’s Merit Rating Board and your insurance company so that your driving history record will be properly updated.

  • If the decision is marked VACATE, the Board has found that you were not more than 50% at-fault for the accident. Any points that you received on your driving record as a result of the accident will be removed.
  • If the decision is marked UPHELD, the Board has found that you were more than 50% at-fault for the accident. The surcharge points will remain on your driving record.

If you disagree with the determination of the Board, you may appeal the decision to your county’s Superior Court or in Boston Suffolk County Court. You must file this appeal within 30 days of your receipt of the decision.
A surcharge incurred due to a traffic violation or a non-moving violation are not appealable to the Board…

Bill Cordaro
Commercial Accounts
Andrew G. Gordon, Inc.

Identity Theft – Tricks of the Trade

Credit cards

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Use of credit cards, bank accounts, and other electronic monetary transactions are a convenience and a necessity in today’s world. An unfortunate side-effect of this otherwise wonderful technology is the prevalence of identity theft. Previously a small and isolated type of crime, this type of theft has become ubiquitous in a world where money is wired from account to account, and most personal information is handled digitally. News of medical records ending up in landfills reminds us of that our privacy is not always within our control. Let’s face it. No one keeps all their money under their mattress, and safe-crackers are facing a tough employment market.    

But just because this is a problem does not mean you can’t be vigilant and prepared.  Here’s a great checklist from reader’s digest developed by former ID thieves to show you discreet ways that thieves can help themselves to your money. 

(For the full story and webpage, click here

“13 Things an Identity Thief Won’t Tell You” 

  1. Watch your back. In line at the grocery store, I’ll hold my phone like I’m looking at the screen and snap your card as you’re using it. Next thing you know, I’m ordering things online—on your dime.
  2. That red flag tells the mail carrier—and me—that you have outgoing mail. And that can mean credit card numbers and checks I can reproduce.
  3. Check your bank and credit card balances at least once a week. I can do a lot of damage in the 30 days between statements.
  4. In Europe, credit cards have an embedded chip and require a PIN, which makes them a lot harder to hack. Here, I can duplicate the magnetic stripe technology with a $50 machine.
  5. If a bill doesn’t show up when it’s supposed to, don’t breathe a sigh of relief. Start to wonder if your mail has been stolen.
  6. That’s me driving through your neighborhood at 3 a.m. on trash day. I fill my trunk with bags of garbage from different houses, then sort later.
  7. You throw away the darnedest things—preapproved credit card applications, old bills, expired credit cards, checking account deposit slips, and crumpled-up job or loan applications with all your personal information.
  8. If you see something that looks like it doesn’t belong on the ATM or sticks out from the card slot, walk away. That’s the skimmer I attached to capture your card information and PIN.
  9. Why don’t more of you call 888-5-OPTOUT to stop banks from sending you preapproved credit offers? You’re making it way too easy for me.
  10. I use your credit cards all the time, and I never get asked for ID. A helpful hint: I’d never use a credit card with a picture on it.
  11. I can call the electric company, pose as you, and say, “Hey, I thought I paid this bill. I can’t remember—did I use my Visa or MasterCard? Can you read me back that number?” I have to be in character, but it’s unbelievable what they’ll tell me.
  12. Thanks for using your debit card instead of your credit card. Hackers are constantly breaking into retail databases, and debit cards give me direct access to your banking account.
  13. Love that new credit card that showed up in your mailbox. If I can’t talk someone at your bank into activating it (and I usually can), I write down the number and put it back. After you’ve activated the card, I start using it.Sources: Former identity thieves in Kentucky, Florida, Indiana, Virginia, and New York.
    From Reader’s Digest – September 2010  

If you should become a victim of identity theft, be sure to contact your financial institutions to report the problem.  Many insurance companies offer ID Theft Recovery coverage either as an automatic coverage or for a small charge.    

“13 Things An Identity Thief Won’t Tell You | 13 Things | Reader’s Digest.” Reader’s Digest Magazine Articles. Sept. 2010. Web. 31 Aug. 2010. <http://www.rd.com/your-america-inspiring-people-and-stories/13-things-an-identity-thief-wont-tell-you/article184109.html?epid=F73D5CA1-13D0-4289-9BFE-AA9047516F64&trkid=ERDI22938-1&gt;. 

Even if all these steps are noted and taken advantage of, there is a chance you may still become a victim. Fortunately, many homeowners’ insurance companies offer assistance in reclaiming your identity.  If you’re not sure that your homeowners insurance includes ID theft coverage, contact us.  It isn’t expensive and will save you a ton of time and money if some sly thief absconds in the middle of the night with your identity. 

For insurance resources and relevant information, visit the A. G. Gordon Website

Hiking and Risk Assessment

hiking way - escursionisti

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I recently hiked a stretch of the Appalachian Trail  in Maine known as the “100 Mile Wilderness” with my two sons; and even being literally days from the office, and days from cell coverage or other reminders of “civilization”, I had an epiphany about personal risk. 

While insurance and public safety measures are importants tool for reducing the effects of risk on our personal lives, it does change our everyday assessment of the risk we are all willing to bear. 

When you’re miles from any kind of help descending a trail littered with boulders, roots, and deadfall trees, every single step is deliberate and cautious.  The risk of losing your footing – anywhere on the trail – carries dire consequences.  A compound fracture coud be life threatening; even a mild sprain could mean you have to lay off your pack with a week of food, clothing and shelter to your two companions (assuming you’re traveling with companions).  

Back here in civilization, we go to great lengths to minimize risk to the public when they pass by or into our office.  The sidewalk is repaired each spring after winter’s snowplow damage; concrete filled steel posts are anchored in the sidewalk to protect us from vehicles parked outside; we have non-slip rugs; and have moved our commercial operation to our basement to provide a conference room for customer privacy.  All these are good steps for providing a safe and hopefully risk-free environment to the public.   But it changes our personal assessment of risk 

The downside of this is in how it changes some people’s perception of real risks.  We talk of “risky behavior” by teens when they drink and drive, or take drugs: the only risk they may perceive is getting caught by their parents or the police and losing driving privileges.  They’ve been so insulated from “the trail” that my sons and I walked on, that they risk their lives and the lives of people with them and around them when they speed down a residential street drunk and high.  

We all make risk assessments in so many decisions; and reducing risk in all public places allows us to carry-on and focus on things important to us.  But occasionally, a walk in the woods where the environment hasn’t been safety sanitized, can be a good re-set for our perception of the world. 

Our journal appears at http://gordon100wild.wordpress.com/ 

Geoff Gordon 

www.agordon.com 

Just Some Insurance Humor

An insured called her auto carrier to report an accident.  She was very distraught as it was her first accident and she insisted that it was caused by the other driver.  While providing her company with the details of the incident, she was asked by the claim representative to provide her plate number.  She indicated that it was 123NMF.  The claim rep repeated it back to her as 123 N as in Nancy, M as in Mary, and F as in Francis.  The insured responded, no it is 123 N as in Not, M as in My, F as in Fault!

Donna M. Bellavance
A.G. Gordon, Inc.

For topical and relevant insurance resources, or to get a quote, visit our webpage www.agordon.com.

Home Project Snowballs

A true story from the life of an agent on staff:

We were looking forward to replacing our exterior door and because it seemed manageable, planned on doing it ourselves.  In retrospect, it was probably a mistake.  My husband removed the door frame including the threshold and we found what we believe are termites and carpenter ants along with the damaged sill and other areas.  At least it seems to be isolated to that small area.   He tore out the affected areas and sprayed with the old toxic chemicals that were on hand.  We made multiple trips to Lowe’s and Home Depot to pick up supplies and more spray to treat the affected areas.  We’re not done yet and as it turns out, we’re replacing the deck now instead of next year so that he has easier access to replace the damaged area.  Unfortunately, our homeowners policy won’t step in either, as there are exclusions for insect damage, wear and tear, deterioration, and other damages that happen over time. 

If you’re more inclined to hire a carpenter than try this kind of project yourself, be sure to ask for a certificate of insurance, showing they have liability and workers compensation insurance.     This should be a minimum “legitimacy” level for any contractor, and is one good way to separate the pros from the amateurs!  For a project like ours, we should have found a pro!

Keep in mind that insect damage is not usually covered under a Homeowners policy:
“Additional Exclusions”. We do not cover, with respect to any property, any loss resulting from, caused by, contributed
to, or aggravated by any of the following:

  1. Wear and tear, marring, or deterioration;
  2. Inherent vice, latent defect, or mechanical breakdown;
  3. Rust or other corrosion, mold, or wet or dry rot;
  4. Contamination, smog, or smoke from agricultural or industrial operations, including smudging;
  5. Settling, shrinking, bulging, or expansion, including resultant cracking, of pavements, patios, foundations, walls, floors, roofs, ceilings, fences, swimming pools, retaining walls, or bulkheads, whether resulting from growth of vegetation or otherwise;
  6. Birds, vermin, animals, rodents, or insects, except that this exclusion does not apply to collapse under Coverages A and B, under which we do not cover loss involving collapse resulting from detectable decay or detectable damage by birds, vermin, animals, rodents, or insects, and that any ensuing loss resulting directly from a Peril Insured Against to property described in Coverages A and B is covered.

 

For more insurance information, as well as topical and relevant resources. Visit our website or recieve an online quote.