Charles Hagerty No Comments

Power Struggle: The Cost of Electrical Surge

Your family is forced to stay home due to the big storm hovering over the house. The comforting sounds and bright screen of your 52” LCD  television eclipses the noise from outside. Then it happens: Just as you’re about to discover who gets voted off the island, your family is startled by sudden darkness.

After the outage forces your family to live in darkness for a few hours, the local power authority flips the switch and all is well…for a moment. The sudden surge of power is too much for your electronics to digest, and they’ve returned to oblivion.

American households spend billions on electronics annually. The average household contains thousands of dollars of electrical goodies like appliances and electronics, including televisions and computers. Limitations found in most standard forms of home insurance could leave you in the dark; such limitations say your insurance policy will not pay for damage to electronics that is caused by a power surge.

Renters and condominium unit-owners will not find comfort in their standard insurance policies, either; the same limitations usually apply.

A sudden surge in electrical current is not uncommon. There are a number of surge-protection devices designed to prevent this from compromising the life span of your most precious toys. But this hardware is not full-proof, and can still leave you and your family in the dark.

Losing your electronics due to power surge can be a financial disaster. Imagine having to replace that $2,000 television that is hooked up to the $1,000 home theater system you spent two weeks wiring, both of which are now left sizzling after a sudden jolt?

In many home insurance policies, this limitation only applies to personal property, not to “building property.” This means items that are considered part of your house, such as a built-in range, burglar alarm system or central heating/AC system are covered by your home insurance if bereft of life due to power surge. However, this is not true for all home policies.

There is hope. Most standard home insurance policies can be modified to cover losses to property caused by electrical surge. If your current policy cannot be modified, consider asking your agent to shop for a policy that includes the coverage or can be modified to do so.

Others may have a second option. Some power companies offer insurance for surge protection. They add a premium to your power bill, and in return offer insurance which can provide valuable coverage and allow you to collect damages without making a claim against your home insurance company or paying a deductible.

The cost of insurance provided through a power company varies; one major provider charges between $5 and $13 monthly for coverage ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.

However you chose to do so, purchasing this insurance coverage can be a tremendous relief for you and your family if the sudden voltage puts your prized possessions out to pasture.

TLIG is a local Trusted Choice® agency that represents multiple insurance companies, so it offers you a variety of personal and business coverage choices and can customize an insurance plan to meet your specialized needs.

Visit us online at or call us at (434) 582-1444.


Charles Hagerty No Comments

What Can I do to Reduce My Workers’ Compensation Premiums?

  1. Manage Your Risks
  2. Take Advantage of Saving Opportunities
  3. Be Sure Your Premium is Correctly Figured
  4. Avoid the Assigned Risk Fund

Manage Your Risks – Most small companies cannot afford to hire a risk manager. Nevertheless, someone in the company should have a continuing responsibility for loss control and the management of workers’ compensation claims. This involves a variety of programs to keep workers safe, the medical management of claims and early return to work for any injured workers.

In some states insurers must provide accident prevention services to employers. Even if not required to do so by law, the majority of workers’ compensation carriers can help you improve safety. In some states, employers are required by law to set up safety committees and other programs to deal with unsafe conditions in the workplace. Even when not required by law, safety committees can be very effective at reducing accidents. Additionally, regularly scheduled safety meetings, “ToolBox Talks” and “Lunch and Learns” are extremely beneficial in helping to foster a safety culture.

You may also want to consider establishing formal hiring practices, implementing a Drug-Free workplace, developing an Employee Handbook, utilizing best practices and creating a company specific safety manual. Again, even if not legally required to do so, having and following written policies and procedures can help reduce accidents and ultimately reduce the total cost of your workers’ compensation program.

Take Advantage of Savings Available in Your State – Several states allow merit rating credits. Smaller businesses that typically pay $5,000 in premiums or less may be entitled to a credit of 5 to 15 percent if they have not had any lost-work-time claims during a designated period. In some states there are premium credits for drug- and alcohol-free workplace programs and safety programs. Some insurers may give you a discount if you hire a professional risk management firm to help you with your safety program.

Be Sure Your Premium Is Figured Correctly – Make sure you have been placed in the right industry classification code. Check that the insurer’s payroll computation adjusts for overtime pay and allocates the payroll of different employees correctly.

Avoid the Assigned Risk Fund – Cutting down on your claims is the best way to stay out of the state’s assigned risk plan, or insurer of last resort, which usually costs more. You may have been put into assigned risk without knowing it. Ask your agent to check on your status.

If you have been put in assigned risk, find out from your state workers comp agency if rates are higher. If they are, make a concerted effort to get other insurance. Just because one agent is unable to find something better for you doesn’t necessarily mean that it doesn’t exist. Talk with other agents, investigate group self insurance programs that may be available in your state and talk with other people in your industry and owners of other businesses of similar size and age and with a similar risk level.

Charles Hagerty No Comments

Undervaluation: Not to Be Overlooked

You pay for home insurance to avoid incurring large out-of-pocket expenses after a something damages your house and personal property. The last thing you need is an insurance company explaining “adequate limits of insurance” after the fact; especially if that explanation means more cost to you.

According to Marshall & Swift/Boeckh, an organization specializing in building cost research, 59% of homes were underinsured by an average of 22% in 2005. Some reasons for the high number of underinsured homes include inaccurate valuation methods, complacency with current home value and failure to report value-changing improvements and betterments.

The penalty for underinsurance is costly. Your home insurance company requires that you pay for enough insurance to cover the value of the home at the time it is damaged, not when the policy is issued. Most home insurance policies contain a provision requiring the limit of insurance to be equal to or greater than a specified amount for the insurance policy to pay for the full cost of the damage.

For example, say your house catches fire and one-fourth of it is damaged. While adjusting the claim, the insurance company determines that due to increased construction costs, your home’s current replacement value is $100,000. If just a portion of your home is damaged, most home insurance policies require that your limit be at least 80 percent of this amount, in this case $80,000. If your limit is less than $80,000, you will only receive a portion of the $25,000 and will have to pay the difference out-of-pocket…yuck!

Despite the above example, you should never carry a limit of insurance lower than 100 percent of your home’s current replacement value. Here’s why: Consider the previous example, only this time the fire damage is so severe that your entire home must be torn down and rebuilt. If your policy limit is anything lower than $100,000 you will have to pay the difference yourself.

To make matters more difficult is the constant flux of property values. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the cost of common construction materials such as cement, drywall, lumber and nails have soared over the past two years, two to five times faster than gasoline prices! According to Marshall & Swift/Boeckh, some homes that were built just two years ago for $125 a square foot may now cost over $200 per square foot to rebuild.

People also forget to count improvements. According to the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies, homeowners spent $149 billion on owner-occupied home improvements in 2005. And this amount doesn’t include home repair costs or the amount spent by landlords on rental homes—two factors that would exponentially increase this dollar figure. Have you added a burglar alarm system, closed in the garage, put in new floors or redone the kitchen? Improvements like these are fair game in determining the current value of your home. In addition, many homeowners do not understand that factors like market price, property tax appraised value and mortgage amount are not the same as the cost to repair or rebuild your home after a loss.

Preventing underinsurance is tricky but not impossible. Most home insurance policies can be modified to increase insurance limits automatically. Regular communication (at least annually) with your insurance agent will help you understand limits and trends. And reporting improvements will help keep your limits up-to-date.

These steps will help ensure that your home insurance policy will do what you expect it to come claim time.

TLIG is a local Trusted Choice® agency that represents multiple insurance companies, so it offers you a variety of personal and business coverage choices and can customize an insurance plan to meet your specialized needs.

Visit us online at or call us at (434) 582-1444


Charles Hagerty No Comments

This Summer, Get In the Water—and Get Out, Safely

A cool swim on a hot day is an American tradition. As temperatures rise, most folks want to get into the water—whether at the ocean, lake or pool.

The combination of high fuel prices and an economic slowdown may keep Americans at or near home more than usual this summer. But water safety is a concern wherever you—and especially your children—venture this summer.

Pools present dangers, particularly for young kids. Each year, some 3,500 deaths—about 10 per day—are cause by drowning, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And another 4,000 people are treated at hospital emergency visits total for injuries and trauma related to pool accidents.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) notes that drowning is the second-leading cause of injury death for children ages one to 14. Each year, 283 children under age five die in America’s pools and spas, a statistic that has worsened since the turn of the century. Most deaths and injuries related to pools occur on residential properties. Most involve children ages one to two, according to the commission.

Here are the problems that lead to children drowning in pools:

Unprotected pools. Pools must be treated as attractive nuisances, meaning children will want to get to them to play. One risk: Pools with a three-sided fence where the home forms the fourth side of the barrier. That simply means children can gain access to the water through a door rather than over a fence. Other problems include frost heaving that opens a gap in a fence gate, and wooden fences that rot and break.

“Little children are fiendishly clever and they can get away,” pointed out Dr. Jonathan Midgett of the CPSC. “For those brief moments when children elude us, we need layers of protection around our pools. The more obstacles between your child and the pool, the better! Fences need to isolate the pool from the house; have well-maintained self-closing, self-latching gates; and [have] back-up layers of protection, like sensors and alarms.”

Faulty equipment. Suction outlets in pools and whirlpools are a hazard to catch hair and fingers. Anti-entrapment drain covers must be secured in place.

No rules for the pool. Parents may rely on a neighbor, friend or caregiver/babysitter when children are in a pool this summer. Children must be made to understand that, whoever the authority figure is, they must respect that person’s directions. Make safety rules for the pool clear before anyone sets foot inside the pool area.

Poor supervision. Doctors put it bluntly. “Never leave your children alone in or near the pool, even for a moment,” advises the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The doctors’ group adds a rule of “touch supervision” with children younger than five years. This means that the supervising adult is within an arm’s length of the child at all times.

Children can drown in a pool full of people. This happens when no one adult is designated to supervise the pool or if the supervisor isn’t paying proper attention. The CPSC recommends at least one adult taking responsible for watching children around the water.

“This person should avoid distracting activities that can take their attention away,” explained Dr. Julie Gilchrist of the CDC. Distractions include: playing cards, reading, checking e-mail, and talking on the phone. In the time it takes to do these things, a child may quietly slip under water. “Drownings happen quickly and usually silently,” she added.

Anyone who owns or uses a pool should consider learning basic first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). “CPR can make a big difference by reducing the likelihood of brain damage in the few minutes it takes for 911 emergency responders to arrive,” Gilchrist, a medical epidemiologist, noted.

Swim lessons. Learning to swim is not just recreational, but a way to teach children how to save themselves, noted the CDC. Yet even strong swimmers must be supervised, no matter what age.

Any homeowner who has a pool – whether in-ground, above ground, or inflatable/temporary— should have liability insurance coverage, including umbrella liability coverage.

TLIG is a local Trusted Choice® agency that represents multiple insurance companies, so it offers you a variety of personal and business coverage choices and can customize an insurance plan to meet your specialized needs.

Visit us online at or call us at (434) 582-1444.