Are self-driving cars the wave of the future?

Self-driving cars are a cool concept.  You get in your car, plug in where you are going and away you go.  In theory a self-driving car could be safer.  Human error, drunk driving, and distracted driving could potentially all be eliminated.  This could lead to a safer roadway.  According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the thought is that by 2025 there will be 3.5 million self-driving cars on the road.  It is cautioned though that these cars will not be fully autonomous but will have certain conditions in which they will operate autonomously.  A FYI PA is one of the states with enacted legislation for autonomous cars.  What does this mean for you and for your insurance?  For one autonomous cars are not without flaws.  In July 2016 a Tesla Model S was involved in a fatal accident, and again in 2018 a self-driving car killed a drive when it struck a median.  This can create a confusing situation for insurance companies when determining who is at fault.  Is it the car manufacturer?  The software company?  The driver?  This could throw insurance rates into flux as companies try to grip how to charge customers.  Recent problems with self-driving cars could push the timeframe down the road, but they will be here soon.  Would you ride in a self-driving car?  What do you think about self-driving cars?

Summer road trip?

Memorial Day has passed and the official start to summer is in two weeks.  Summer road trips and vacations can mean loading up the car and taking off.  Few things can derail a summer trip faster than car troubles.  One problem that can show up when the temperatures raises is a dead car battery.  According to AAA Exchange it is a good idea to replace a car battery that is over three years old. While you are under the hood check your fluids.  Your coolant being low could lead to a summer driving issue.  Make sure coolant is at the correct level, and don’t forget to never remove a hot coolant cap.  Be sure to check your tires also.  According to autotrader.com be sure to check your tire pressures, and tire wear.  Keep a can of fix a flat in the car as well, that could come in handy during a flat.  It is also a good idea to keep a survival kit in your car.  Don’t forget to include water, a first aid kit, phone charger, snacks, sunscreen, emergency blanket, multi-tool, jumper cables, fuses, duct tape, rag and gloves.  Remember to stay alert and stay safe on the roads this summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://exchange.aaa.com/car-care/repair-maintenance/seasonal-car-maintenance/summer-tips-to-help-your-car/#.XPleJv4m6mQ

 

https://www.autotrader.com/car-news/10-simple-summer-car-care-tips-240454

Time to get out the summer toys

Jet-ski’s, boats, motorcycles, and ATV’s can all mean that summer is here. All of these vehicles can be great ways to get outside and enjoy the warm weather that summer provides. Did you know that we offer coverage for your summer toys? We can help you insure your boat, jet-ski, ATV and more. You can add full coverage to your toys as well so you can repurchase one in the event of an accident. Give us a call today at 412-344-2800 and let us help you find the right coverage for the right price for your toys.

What does CTE possibly have to do with your car insurance?

CTE stands for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.  Typically this is a brain disorder caused by repeated blows or trauma to the head (https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-dementia/related_conditions/chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy-(cte).  CTE is currently a trending topic due to lawsuits filed against football leagues.  What could this possibly have to do with car insurance?  CTE could be the reason why you need to re-evaluate your limits on auto insurance.  Some literature list car accidents as a possible cause for CTE, at the very least Traumatic Brain Injury can be traced to car accidents.  What this means for you as an auto insurance policy holder is that if you are at fault for an accident involving a head injury, the injured party could come after you claiming Traumatic Brain Injury or CTE.  TBI and CTE could result in increasing claim payouts for auto accidents involving head trauma.  Being That CTE and TBI are fairly new issues facing the auto insurance industry we do not have a lot of data yet on exactly how this could affect claim payouts.  It might be time to have a discussion with us about your liability limits and your auto insurance policy.  You can reach out to us using the buttons for social media or give us a call at 412-344-2800.  Together we can navigate the changing world of insurance.

Graduation season is here

The middle of May can be an exciting time for parents with kids in college or high school.  For parents of high school seniors it is the exciting of graduation and possibly college.  For the parents of college students it could mean another year in the books or college graduation.  One thing that both High School and College parents might have in common is the cost of college.  College costs continue to rise and that can put a burden on students after graduation.  Loans are typically taken out to help cover the cost of tuition.  Many times students are unable to be the sole signer on these loans and a parent cosigns on the loan.  Being a cosigner on a loan is a great way to help your prospective student out, but it comes with a risk.  If that student were to die you could be on the hook for the balance of the loans.  One way to help protect you from this is with life insurance.  A term life insurance policy could help you by giving you a payout in the event of the person you cosigned for passing.  This could help keep a tragic situation from getting worse.  In some cases a life insurance policy can give you a discount on your home and auto insurance.  Contact us today at 412-344-2800 or click one of the buttons to connect with us on social media.  Let us help you figure out your life insurance needs. 

What is the cost to replace my home?

You may be shopping your homeowners insurance now, or you may have shopped your insurance in the past.  During that process one of the major items that need to be discussed is your dwelling value.  When you looked at the quote what did the dwelling limit say?  Did it say actual cash value, or replacement cost.  Was that number at 100% of your replacement cost estimator or was the value below that?  Picking the proper dwelling limit is very important for you the policy holder.  Picking the wrong valuation amount could mean that you get a percentage of what it actually cost to fix your home.  Actual cash value is one type of valuation that could impact you in the event of a claim.  An actual cash value policy subjects you to depreciation for your home that you would typically not be subject to on replacement cost.  Another valuation method is replacement cost.  This valuation is just what it sounds like, it is for the cost to replace or repair your home in the event of a claim.  Replacement cost is a good place to start but it can be done incorrectly and affect you the client.  One other thing to look for is if the replacement cost has a cap.  Some homeowners policies come with a cap over replacement cost, 10, 15, or 25% are common caps with some companies offer guaranteed replacement cost.  What this means to you the customer is that cap number is the most amount over the dwelling number your policy will pay in the event a claim exceeds your dwelling limit.  This gap amount is for your protection and should be used if your dwelling rebuild out paces inflation or you do a home improvement project that adds value to your home and you do not notify (or forget to notify) your agent to make a policy change.  This increased limit should not be used to insure your home for an incorrect value to obtain a lower premium.  This practice could set you up for not receiving the proper valuation in the event of a claim.  Your homeowner’s policy protects one of your biggest assets, it is important it is insured properly.  Give us a call to discuss if your homeowners policy properly covers your home and to see if we can find you the right coverage, at the right price.

Grilling Season is here

Warm weather is here, and with it comes grilling season. Grilling can be a great way to cook food and socialize with friends and family. Grilling can also be dangerous. Check out the links below for some grilling safety tips.

https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/direct-line-gas-grill

https://www.travelers.com/resources/home/safety/grilling-safety-tips?cm_mmc=TWITTER-_-PI-_-Spring+2019-_-Grilling+Safety&linkId=66270130

https://blog.nationwide.com/grill-safety/

https://www.iii.org/article/grilling-safety-and-insurance

https://foodal.com/kitchen/outdoor-appliances/barbeque-grills/safety-tips/

Could Easter Egg be your downfall?

Easter will be here on Sunday. Easter has a lot in common with items in your home owners policy. Take the Easter Bunny for example, no one knows how he gets into your home but he does. What if instead of leaving eggs and baskets, he takes your stuff and causes damage to your home? How would you be compensated for the damage caused by the Easter Bunny. Your homeowners policy could, your homeowners policy could cover your dwelling and your personal property under coverage A and B. Easter Egg Hunts are another Easter Tradition. This tradition can also make you think about your homeowners policy. Many kids covet brightly colored eggs. These eggs can be very valuable to kids. What about your valuable stuff? Do you have jewelry, silverware or other valuable or collectible items. If so do you have an inland marine policy or inland marine endorsement on your homeowners policy? Many homeowners policies have a sub-limit for collectibles and jewelry. Scheduling these items can give you the coverage you need. Another Easter Egg item is liability. Imagine having all of the neighborhood over for an Easter Egg Hunt. During the activity one of the kids slips and falls getting injured. Your liability coverage would be your protection in the case of a lawsuit. A severe injury though could require an umbrella which provides additional liability protection. Enjoy the Easter holiday, but use the time right after to think if you are properly covered for your life. Give us a call and we can help you through this process.

April Showers bring flooding!

In the saying April Showers bring May flowers, but in real life April Showers can bring flooding.  Flooding can be a huge issue for us around the Pittsburgh area.  Last year flooding plagued the area and caused significant damage.  We wanted to take this time to remind you that flooding is typically not included on your policy.  Flood coverage is typically written on a flood policy and backed by FEMA.  According to the National Flood Insurance Program, a flood is a “general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or two or more properties”.  One thing to keep in mind with that definition and with your insurance policy is that surface water is considered a flood.  Based on surface water causing the damage, this event would be considered a flood and not subject to insurance unless a flood policy is in force.  If you live in a flood zone typically you would have a flood policy as it would most likely be required for your closing.  If you do not live in a flood zone you can still purchase flood insurance, it is typically cheaper being in a non-flood zone.  Some private carriers have started to write flood insurance on a commercial policy along with a select few personal lines companies.  As always reach out to us if you have questions and let us verify that you are insured properly. 

Is a spring renewal in your plans?

Spring is officially here this week.  Spring brings thoughts of renewal and spring projects meant to get your home and car in shape after a long winter.  Spring can also be the time of year to evaluate your financial wellness.  One way to look at financial wellness is to ask the question what would happen if I died.  How would that event impact your loved ones?  What if one of your loved ones died?  How would that impact you?  The loss of an income can be a significant factor in your family’s well-being.  Life insurance can help you and your family keep your financial freedom.  There are three main types of life insurance, Term, Universal, and Whole-Life.  Each product offers unique features.  Life insurance can give you just a death benefit or it can give you cash value in an investment vehicle.  Give us a call at 412-344-2800 to see what life insurance policy fits your life better.  Remember life insurance is cheaper when you are younger, and you could get a discount on your home and auto policies. 

What does St. Patrick's day have to do with National Umbrella Month?

St. Patrick’s day is here on Sunday. Every year people celebrate the day when everyone is Irish. Celebrations mean different things to different people, but for some those celebrations involve parties and alcohol. What does that have to do with National Umbrella month? We might be using National Umbrella Month wrong, it is supposed to be for the umbrella that protects you from rain, but let’s talk about the umbrella that protects you from life? How this umbrella protects you on St. Patrick’s day is by giving you extra liability coverage if someone slips and falls at your house or has some kind of accident. An umbrella policy sits on top of your home and auto policy and gives you a limit of liability higher than your auto and home. Most umbrella’s start at 1 million in coverage and could be key to your financial future if you are sued. An umbrella could be the difference between losing your house and keeping what you have worked hard to obtain. Umbrella’s are typically a cost effective policy. Premiums can be in the 150 to 500 range. This St Patrick’s Day enjoy the day and the celebration. Rest easy knowing that if the worst happens your umbrella has you covered from the storm.

Spring is getting closer

March starts the count down to Spring. Spring will be here in the next couple of weeks, even if it won’t look like it this weekend. March is National Nutrition Month, Employee Spirit Month, and National Red Cross Month. March also has some insurance related topics, it is National Umbrella Month and Flood Awareness Week. Finally don’t forget to support your favorite small business on March 29th, which is National Mom and Pops Business Owners Day. St Patrick’s Day is one of the best known days of the month. During the month of March on our blog we will look at umbrella’s, St Patrick’s Day, and how to Spring clean some of the area’s of your home and auto.

Are you a co-signer on a loan?

As Insure Your Love Month continues we want to bring up a life insurance need that many people do not think about when discussing life insurance. That situation is being a co-signer on a loan for someone. That loan could be a car loan, a mortgage, or a college loan. Co-signing on someones loan could put you on the hook for paying that loan in the event of a death. Many parents are co-signers on student loans for their children. Federal loans offer a built-in protection, however private loans do not according to smartasset.com. Typically term life insurance could be a solution. Term life insurance is usually very cost effective for a younger person. A life insurance policy could help you offset most or all of the debt that a student loan could bring you in the event of your child’s death. Call us at 412-344-2800 to discuss if this could be a solution for you. You can also click the links in the upper corner to contact us.

Insurance for your most valuable assest

Valentine’s day has came and went, but that caring feeling for a loved one remains. February has Valentine’s Day, but it is also Insure your Love month. Insure your Love month is brought to you by Lifehappens.org. The site is a website discussing the importance of life insurance. Life insurance needs change many times throughout your life. Getting married, having a baby, buying a house, all of these events change your need for life insurance. Life insurance helps protect what you have built and love. Give us a call at 412-344-2800 or hit the contact us link. We would love to discuss your life changes and see how life insurance can help your loved ones. Life insurance can also give a discount on your home and auto. Remember it is cheaper to buy life insurance when you are younger so it is never too early to start.

Interest that your are earning got you down

Today we have a guest blog from agent Armand Castelli. Looking to earn more interest than bank CD's?  Erie Single Premium Deferred Annuity have three options. SPDA III is a  3 year rate Guarantee is 2.60%.  SPDA V is a 5 year rate Guarantee of 2.90%.  SPDA VII is a 7 year rate of 3.20%.   All rates are taxed deferred. The annunities are issued by Erie Family Life Insurance Company, which is rated A (Excellent) by A.M. Best.  For as little as $50 a month, Erie's Flexible Premium Deferred Annuity is currently earning 2.90% taxed deferred for long term savings.  Call us for a quote at 412-344-2800.

Black Ice

Winter driving lately has been a struggle for most people.  Traffic has been backed up and slowed down as winter weather has worked its way through our region.  One of the main causes of delays and accidents is black ice.  According to Wikipedia, “black ice is a thin coating of glaze ice on a surface”, “the ice itself is not black, but visually transparent, allowing the often black road below to be seen though it”.  Black ice is the same as regular ice; it is just easier to see through due to not having bubbles in it.  When driving on black ice there are a few tips to help keep you safe.  First remain calm.  According to Wikihow, do not brake when on black ice, do as little as possible and let the car pass over the ice.  De-accelerate by lifting your foot off the accelerator completely and keep the steering wheel in a fixed position.  Also according to Wikihow, if you are on black ice look for areas of traction, snow-covered spots or spots with sand could give you increased traction.  If you do lose traction and skid remember to steer the wheel in the direction you want to go, and if you end up losing control try to steer into things that will cause minimal damage.  There are ways that you can minimize your encounters with black ice.  Wikihow says you should travel slowly and remain a safe distance behind the car in front of you.  Keep your windshield clear of ice, snow, and dirt and free of obstructions.   Also remember to never use cruise control during icy conditions.  Stay safe this winter.

Winter Storm Harper

First off we want to ask everyone to be safe this weekend as a large snow storm is set to head our way.  Large winter storms can cause stress and anxiety for many people.  As the storm approaches be prepared for the storm.  On this blog and our social media sites we have talked about ways to winterize your car and home.  Last week we touched on snow shoveling.  Don’t forget about your four legged family members during a winter storm.  Remember to keep your pets’ outdoor time to a minimum during the storm.  Also if you have small or short haired animals consider a coat or booties according to aspca.org.  They ask you to remember that if it’s cold for you, it is cold for your pets too.  When your pets come in from outdoors wipe off wets paws and bellies with a moist wash cloth, salt and snow between the toes can be painful to your pet. (aspca.org)   Keep an eye on your pets’ water as well as most winter storm deaths for pets are a result of dehydration. (redcross.org) Your pet however isn’t the only one at risk of dehydration, avoid caffeine and alcohol if you are going to be out in the storm as both can increase the effect that cold has on you.  Don’t forget that other animals are outside as well and may be seeking shelter under your car if you park outside.  Looking under your car or banging loudly on the car can scare out and animals that might be hiding underneath your car.  Depending on your area, this weekend could bring up to 8 inches.  Stay safe and keep your pets safe and enjoy the weekend.