Road Hazards

October 8, 2015 at 12:30 PM | Posted in Auto, Insurance Claims, Insurance Policy, Personal Insurance, Safety Tips | Leave a comment
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In the auto insurance industry, a “road hazard” can be defined as anything on the road that poses a threat to a driver, placing drivers at risk of being in an accident. Some common examples can be road repair in anticipation of winter, potholes, uneven/unpaved roads, or a foreign object in the road, causing drivers to swerve and possibly lead to an accident.

The frequency of road hazard accidents is at a high, and it’s not just due to a higher population of pot holes; objects being transported on the road risk coming loose if they are not secured properly, in turn posing a risk to drivers and others around them. Now that autumn is upon us, leaves will soon be littering the ground and everyone will be doing fall lawn clean-up, driving to waste yards to dispose of leaves and branches. If yard debris is not tied down with ropes, tarps, or nets, a portion of the load can fall off the vehicle during transit, creating a risk for accidents as drivers may need to swerve to avoid the falling yard debris, or debris left behind in the road.

With the knowledge of road hazards in mind while traveling, please use caution out on the road. Practice road safety. Keep your speed within the speed limit and maintain a safe distance behind any vehicle to avoid upcoming potholes or debris in the road; there’s a chance the driver ahead of you will swerve to avoid such road hazards.

Be sure you know the specifics of what your auto policy covers in the event of an accident. Any damage to your tire or wheel as a result of a pothole is not covered by MA auto policy. In the event of a collision due to a pothole, or coming in contact with anything on the road, auto policies can provide coverage, but you may be subject to a deductible. If you have questions about your auto policy, or would like to discuss your policy coverage in the event of an accident caused by a road hazard, our client representatives are here to give detailed and helpful direction. Call us toll free at 888 – 850 – 9400.

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Personal Auto vs. Commercial Auto when Snow Plowing

November 5, 2014 at 11:09 AM | Posted in Auto, Insurance Policy | Leave a comment
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The first snowfall of the year has arrived! If you plow during the winter months with your personal vehicle, it is time to get the plowing gear ready. The following information, regarding your Personal Auto policy, may help you determine when you should consider obtaining a Commercial Auto policy:

Under a personal auto policy:

  • If you are plowing for a fee, your personal auto policy should be endorsed to Business Use to avoid issues at the time of a claim due to business use exclusions. The cost to add this endorsement is relatively small.
  • You should provide a receipt or documentation stating the value of the plow and hitching equipment so the policy can include it in the Physical Damage coverage. Otherwise, the cost of the plowing equipment would not be included in a claim should you report a loss.
  • A personal auto policy does NOT offer any Completed Operations coverage. This coverage responds in cases where someone files a claim from an incident (i.e. slip and fall injuries) after hired snow removal is completed.

When you need a commercial auto policy:

  • When you are required to carry Combined Single Limits.
  • When you are required to list an Additional Named Insured on the policy.
  • When you are required to produce a Federal Motor Carrier Service Association Filing.
  • When you need Completed Operations coverage. We suggest that if you are plowing for others you always carry Completed Operations coverage.

Call us at 888.850.9400 ~ we can help you protect your business investment to the fullest extent possible.

Preparing Your Home & Auto for the Changing Seasons

September 17, 2014 at 9:22 AM | Posted in Auto, Home, Reminders, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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The change of season brings in colder weather ~ like it or not. As warm summer days give way to the cooler air, we know the winter months aren’t far behind. While enjoying autumn’s changing weather, take a moment to pay full attention to the following items before the cold winter temperatures take hold:

Vehicles

  • Car Batteries – Cold weather drains a battery quickly make sure yours is charging at full capacity
  • Antifreeze – Make sure you have the levels required to handle low temperatures
  • Wipers and Windshield Washer Fluid – Check for proper working order and appropriate levels
  • Oil – Replace with winter grade oil
  • Tires – Make sure you have the adequate tread to handle the snow and ice
  • Ice Scrapers & Snow Brush – Stock your car with these essential snow and ice removal tools
  • Emergency Kit – Be sure to includes a shovel, blankets, flashlights, matches, food, and water

Home

  • Tune Up Time – Snow blowers and generators should be running correctly and currently tuned up
  • Shovels and Sand – Stock an adequate supply of both
  • Tree Maintenance – Trim branches away from power lines and your roof and gutters
  • Furnace & Chimneys – Have these items professionally cleaned before the heating season starts
  • Space Heaters – Inspect all heating appliances thoroughly before using them
  • Emergency Supplies – Replace and Restock before power outages. Include batteries, flashlights, non-perishable food supplies, and blankets
  • Medication – Always keep an emergency supply accessible to cover a few extra days in case you become stranded

Being prepared provides you the reassurance and comfort that will enable you to enjoy the changing seasons and the unexpected weather that is inevitable!

WINTERIZING YOUR SUMMER TOYS

September 10, 2014 at 3:00 PM | Posted in Auto, Camper, Motor Home, Motorcycle, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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Your motorcycles, classic cars, and boats have contributed to your summer fun. Can you believe that the time to winterize them is just around the corner? Here are some tips to keep in mind:

CARS & MOTORCYCLES:

  • Change the oil and filter
  • Fill the tank with fresh gas and use a stabilizer
  • Make sure the coolant levels are proper
  • Use a battery maintainer or remove the battery
  • Put the vehicle on stands if possible, otherwise, inflate the tires to the proper pressure
  • Wash the vehicle to remove any dirt, especially underneath and in the wheel wells
  • Cover openings such as exhaust pipes and air intakes to prevent animals from nesting
  • For indoor storage open a window slightly, for outdoor storage use a cover

BOATS:

  • Store boats stern down
  • Open all valves and drains
  • Use a fuel stabilizing additive
  • Drain the fresh water tank and heater and use anti-freeze
  • Provide structural support under covers and tarps
  • Remove electronics and cushions and store inside
  • Put moisture absorbers in the cabin

Winterizing your summer toys properly during the long, cold winter months will help ensure that you get to enjoy them again next year.

Auto Discounts for Students

September 3, 2014 at 9:08 AM | Posted in Auto | Leave a comment
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Now that school is back in session, it is a good time to remind you of two important school related discounts that most insurance companies offer on auto insurance:

  1. Good Student discounts: A full-time high school or college student with a 3.0 or B grade point average may be eligible for up to a 10% discount on the vehicle they are rated on.
  2. Students Away at School discounts: A full-time student that resides at an accredited school at least 100 miles away from home may be eligible for an additional discount up to 15% on the vehicle they are rated on.

If you have a child in school, these discounts could save you money. Check with your agent to see if your child is eligible.

Back to School – Driving Safety Tips

August 20, 2014 at 9:54 AM | Posted in Reminders, Safety Tips | Leave a comment
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In the coming weeks children will be back in school and the school buses will be back on the roads, making the motorist’s commute seem longer. It is very important to follow proper procedures for sharing the road with school buses and when driving near school zones:

  • Be alert! Children may take more risks, without thinking, failing to look both ways when crossing a street.
  • It is illegal to pass a school bus with red flashing lights signaling when children are getting on or off the bus – and traffic must stop in both directions until this signal has been turned off.
  • Stop your car at least ten feet away from a school bus to allow sufficient space for children to enter and exit the bus.
  • Make sure you do not stop your vehicle blocking a cross walk. Be sure to leave plenty of room for pedestrians to safely access the cross walk without having to walk around your vehicle.
  • When warning flashers are blinking in a school zone, you must stop to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian in a cross walk or at an intersection with no marked cross walk.
  • Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard if directed to do so.

The most frequent victims of auto vs. pedestrian collisions are the young, elderly, disabled, and intoxicated pedestrians. Children are often times the hardest pedestrians to see whether they are getting off a bus or crossing the road to go to school. Whenever you are behind the wheel — and especially when you are near a school bus or driving through a school zone — use extra care and attention, keeping yourself and everyone around you SAFE.

Summer Vehicle Rentals

May 28, 2014 at 12:19 PM | Posted in Rental Vehicles | Leave a comment
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Do your summer plans involve renting a vehicle?  Whether it is a U-Haul truck, motor home, party van, or a passenger car while on vacation, you should know if your personal auto insurance policy will cover the rented vehicle.

Here are some scenarios you may want to think about before renting:

U-Haul Trucks – Your personal auto policy will not cover this type of vehicle.  The vehicle you rent must be similar to the vehicle you insure on your policy in order to be covered.  If the rental agent offers insurance coverage you should take it.

Party Van – These types of vans or small buses usually hold 12 or more people.  If it does not meet the description of a private passenger auto then it is not covered under your policy.

Motor Homes – They are not covered under your personal auto policy unless you own a motor home and it is listed on your policy as a covered vehicle.  If you need to rent a replacement motor home, the carrier will usually extend some coverage to the rental.  Check with your agent to be sure.

Private Passenger Vehicle – If you are renting a private passenger vehicle, the coverage from your personal auto policy will extend to the rental.  However, your auto policy only covers physical damage for actual cash value.  The rental agency will hold you responsible for full replacement value of the vehicle should there be a loss. Some insurance companies are now offering that coverage for rental vehicles as an endorsement to your personal auto policy.  Check with your agent to see if you can add it to your policy for year round coverage, rather than paying the daily insurance price at the rental agency rate.

No matter what type of vehicle you plan on renting, it is a good idea to check with your agent to make sure you know how your personal auto policy will respond before you sign the rental agreement.

Great Tips for Eliminating Distracted Driving

May 14, 2014 at 11:12 AM | Posted in Reminders | Leave a comment
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This time of year provides added driving distractions, especially for newly licensed teens while behind the wheel. It is an exciting time of year for teens, with proms, graduations, and summer vacations on the horizon. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. Distracted driving is anything that takes your mind off the road, and it’s not just cell phone use. We all know what not to do. Start a conversation with teens, keep the following great tips fresh in mind and everyone can stay safe while driving:

  • Don’t eat or drink, put on makeup, play with the radio or anything other than focus on the road while behind the wheel – For safety’s sake take a few minutes to do these things before you get on the road.
  • Fatigue and daydreaming can be dangerous driving distractions – Always stay alert behind the wheel.
  • Angry or upset drivers are not only distracted but can also be dangerous – Don’t get behind the wheel until you are calm.
  • Texts and calls may seem urgent but can wait – Turn your cell phone off while driving, and only use your phone when you are off the road.

Always put safety first. You should be in complete control while driving, be sure to tell passengers that you need to focus on the road. One little distraction could cause an accident with major bodily injury or even death.

Don’t become another tragic statistic, nothing is as important as the rest of your life.

Stay alert and stay safe!

Seasonal Vehicle Coverage

April 9, 2014 at 9:04 AM | Posted in Auto, Camper, Insurance Policy, Motor Home, Motorcycle, Personal Insurance, Personal Property, Specialty Policy, Travel Trailer | Leave a comment
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It is that time of year again. The motorcycles, campers, and collector cars and other recreational vehicles are starting to make an appearance now that the weather is better. Here are some insurance reminders before you take them out:

  • Motorcycles: If you decreased your coverage when you put your motorcycle away last winter, don’t forget to increase coverage before taking a ride. When deciding what coverage to put on your motorcycle, Medical Payments is very important to you and anyone that is on your bike at the time of an accident.
  • Campers: They can be covered under your auto policy, but you will get much better coverage at a comparable price if you insure your camper on a travel trailer policy. It includes things like towing and roadside assistance, accessory coverage for awnings, etc… and campsite liability if stationary.
  • Collector Cars: If you have a classic or collector car that is at least 15 years old, you will want to make sure you have collector car insurance coverage. The coverage is designed for the special needs of the car collector. It covers everything your regular auto policy will cover in the event of a loss but the method of determining the value is an agreed value rather than an actual cash value — there is no reduction taken for depreciation. Since a collector or classic car is only driven for a short period of time each year, the premium is usually much lower than a regular auto policy.
  • Off Road Vehicles: Whether you drive an ATV or a golf cart, you could potentially injure someone or cause property damage. You need coverage that will respond to any situation. Some of the extras on a recreational vehicle policy include: Equipment coverage, helmet and safety apparel, and trailer coverage.
  • Watercraft: Boats of all sizes and jet skis need the proper coverage as well. Physical damage to the vessel, liability to other boaters, medical payments, and trailer coverage are just some of the coverages available under a watercraft policy.

No matter what your passion is, make sure you and your family are protected with the right coverage before you experience a loss.

Using Your Vehicle for a Profit? Know the Exclusions & Limitations

April 2, 2014 at 10:51 AM | Posted in Auto | Leave a comment
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Uber, Lyft, and SideCar are some of the new business services popping up that use smart phone technology for vehicle owners who combine availability with ride sharing or taxi service.  These companies work from a mobile phone application, allowing potential riders to connect with potential drivers for a fee.  Whether you choose “ride-sharing” or transportation for hire, there are definite limitations on your personal auto policy that you need to be aware of:

  • Every Massachusetts Auto policy has a public or livery conveyance exclusion that applies to most of the coverages, including property damage and bodily injury to others.  This means that if you are acting as a livery service (carrying passengers for hire) at the time of an accident, your insurance company could deny coverage.
  • The Vehicle Sharing Exclusion, new to Massachusetts, states the insurance company will not pay any claim for injury or property damage under the policy while your auto is being used in a personal vehicle sharing program.
  • Most of these programs offer their own coverage as excess in addition to the driver’s personal insurance policy. Programs may offer to pay from dollar-one if the primary insurance is not available. However, depending on the circumstances at the exact time of the claim there could be a question as to whether or not their coverage will respond.

It is always better to be safe than sorry. Before you sign up for any of these new business ventures involving the use of your personal vehicle, call Protector Group at 888-850-9400 to discuss your coverage and any exclusions that may apply.

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