Long Insurance Services of Kernersville, NC


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All posts by Duane Long

Parking Lot Accidents

How Does Insurance Cover Parking Lot Accidents?

Parking Lot AccidentsParking lots can be crazy places. Whether you’re at the mall, the grocery store or even just grabbing a quick coffee… all those cars coming and going can up anyone’s chances of being in a parking lot accident.

Which may lead you wonder: How does insurance cover parking lot accidents? Let’s walk through a few common scenarios.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I HIT SOMEONE ELSE’S CAR IN A PARKING LOT?

Accidents happen. That’s why having the right auto insurance can give you peace of mind.

If you do hit a car in a parking lot, here’s what to do next:

  • Don’t leave the scene. If you drive away without telling anyone, that’s considered a hit-and-run. You could face a whole other set of legal issues if a security camera or witness spots you in the act. So do the honest thing and stick around.
  • Get out of harm’s way. Even a simple fender-bender can block traffic or scatter broken glass. Make sure you’re a safe distance from anything dangerous and be mindful of the flow of traffic. If needed, put your hazard lights on to alert nearby drivers.
  • Try to locate the car’s owner. Ask a store employee to page the owner of the car over the loudspeaker.
  • Leave a note. It’s the right thing to do… and potentially even the law. Not leaving a note is considered a hit-and-run in the vast majority of states, even if the damage was just a small scratch. Keep it simple and polite. Include your name, contact information, and a brief explanation of what happened. Leave it in a secure spot where it won’t blow away.
  • Consider calling the police. If the damage is serious, they can help you file an incident report and track down the car’s owner.
  • Call your insurance agent. When you’re with ERIE, you don’t have to go it alone. Your local ERIE agent is there to answer questions and help you understand what’s covered.

Remember, policy conditions might require you to tell ERIE or your agent about the incident – even if you decide not to file a claim. Learn more about what to do when accidents happen.

SOMEONE HIT MY PARKED CAR. NOW WHAT?

An at-fault driver’s auto insurance should cover the property damage they caused to the other vehicle. Hopefully, they left a note and you can get in touch without too much fuss. Unfortunately, some people won’t do the right thing. If you return to a dented or dinged car with no indication of who did it, you can ask around to see if there were any witnesses. If there aren’t any, ask the store if they have security cameras.

If the incident is a hit-and-run—or if the at-fault driver has no auto insurance or not enough insurance—you’ll have to rely on your own auto insurance to cover the damage. That’s assuming you purchased optional collision coverage on your own vehicle.

Also, uninsured motorist property damage coverage that is available in some states protects your car if it’s struck by a hit-and-run driver. (A deductible may apply.)

Just keep in mind that you’ll likely need uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage. This insurance coverage is optional in some states and mandatory in others. It covers you and your passengers’ damages if you’re injured by a hit-and-run driver, an uninsured driver or a driver who doesn’t have enough coverage to pay for your medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.

Whether it’s a simple fender-bender or something more serious, remember – your local ERIE agent is there to help answer questions and provide advice.

WHAT HAPPENS IF TWO CARS HIT EACH OTHER AT THE SAME TIME?

There is usually an at-fault driver when there’s a parking lot accident. But there are some cases where an accident is two drivers’ fault—for instance, two people may back out at the same time and hit each other. What typically happens in these cases is that each driver files a claim with their own insurance company.

HOW TO PREVENT PARKING LOT ACCIDENTS

Luckily, there are steps you can take to keep you, your car and others safe. Get our list of tips for how to avoid a parking lot accident.

Unfortunately, accidents do happen. But when you’re with ERIE, you have your own personal insurance advisor – your local ERIE agent – when they do. Learn more about auto insurance or find a local ERIE agent in your area.

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tree falls in my yard

What Happens If My Neighbor’s Tree Falls in My Yard?

Trees can be tricky, but for the most part homeowners are responsible for what falls into their own yard. So if a storm causes your neighbor’s tree to fall in your yard, your homeowners insurance could help cover the cost of removing the tree and remedying the damage it caused on your property, after your deductible.

The same is true in reverse: If a tree on your property falls in your neighbor’s yard, your neighbor should contact his or her insurance company to determine what type of coverage is available for damage or cleanup in their yard.

In most cases, neighbors are able to work things out without too much trouble. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may need to file a homeowners insurance claim. Your homeowners insurance may or may not cover the cost of tree cleanup, depending on your policy and the company you work with.

Good news: Homeowners insurance from ERIE typically pays for the cost (subject to sublimits) of removal of fallen trees if it’s due to a covered peril, such as a storm.

If there’s ever an issue between neighbors, you can rely on your claims adjuster to help straighten everything out.

THE CLAIMS PROCESS

If a tree falls on your house, the first thing to do, if it’s safe, is to try to prevent further damage to your home and property. Make sure to take some photos to document what happened. Then call your insurance agent, who can explain your options and help you understand if and how to file a claim. When you file a claim, a claims adjuster will come by to evaluate the damage and explain how your homeowners coverage comes into play. It’s recommended that you call your claims adjuster before you contract to have the tree removed.

Sometimes trees fall on cars. If it’s not safe or possible to remove the tree from the car yourself, you should call a professional to remove it. (Again, talk to your insurance agent and a claims adjuster first and take a few photos of the fallen tree on your car.) Depending on the damage and terms of your insurance coverage, the optional comprehensive coverage you may have under your auto policy could provide coverage for the loss.

PREVENTING TREE DAMAGE

Preventive measures matter when it comes to trees. Start by looking for signs of distress such as dead limbs, cracks in the trunk or major limbs, leaning to one side and branches that are close to a house or power line. Mushroom growth on the roots or bark can also signal trouble.

Homeowners should be concerned about the health of their trees. It’s possible for you to be held responsible for resulting damage to your neighbor’s house or property, if your tree falls due (in whole or part) to your own neglect. One of the best things to do is to regularly have large trees trimmed. (The Tree Care Industry Association lists accredited tree care professionals.)

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Guaranteed Replacement Insurance

What is Guaranteed Replacement Cost?

Guaranteed Replacement InsuranceThere are few things in life worse than losing your home to fire or a natural disaster.

Except, that is, discovering in the aftermath that you don’t have enough homeowners insurance coverage to rebuild the house back to the way it was before trouble struck.

If you get guaranteed replacement cost coverage, that is unlikely to happen. Why? Because guaranteed replacement cost will pay for the full cost of rebuilding your house back to its previous size and specifications* – right down to the granite countertops, custom bookshelves, and gleaming hardwood floors that you so love.

“Guaranteed replacement cost gives you peace of mind,” says Bob Buckel, vice president and product manager at Erie Insurance. “The reality is that it’s almost impossible to estimate to the penny what it’s going to cost to rebuild a home. We take that worry away from you.”

In fact, the vast majority of ERIE’s homeowners insurance policyholders opted in to guaranteed replacement cost coverage to protect their most valuable asset – their home.

Keep in mind that guaranteed replacement cost isn’t available in all states. In North Carolina, ask about Enhanced Replacement Cost. For specific questions or a personalized estimate for your home, talk to a local insurance professional like an Erie Insurance agent.

How Much Coverage Should I Have on My House?

When you purchase a home and start thinking about protecting your investment, this is often the first question. The answer is often: More than you just paid for it, Buckel says.

“People naturally gravitate to how much they paid for the house, but we’re not insuring it to buy it from you – we’re insuring it to rebuild it in case something happens,” Buckel says. “The question you need to be asking is, ‘How much would it cost if a builder needs to rebuild it?”

See also: How Much Does Homeowners Insurance Cost?

This is why replacement cost is often more than market value for your home, or even what you might be able to sell it for.

Figuring out rebuilding costs can be elusive, as a range of factor contribute to what that actual cost might be. Guaranteed replacement costs takes the guesswork out, assuring that you’re covered – even if you need to rebuild your entire home*.

As A Homeowner, You Have Choices

Guaranteed replacement cost is one of a range of choices – called “loss settlement options” in the business – which insurance companies offer to homeowners. Common loss settlement options include:

  • Replacement cost
  • Extended replacement cost
  • Actual cash value
  • Guaranteed replacement cost

Each one works a little bit differently. Different insurance companies offer different things, too. (For example: ERIE does not offer actual cash value loss settlement for the dwelling on your primary home – it’s only available for secondary homes and contents. You’ll learn more about actual cash value below.)

Here’s a breakdown of some of those key differences:

Replacement Cost vs. Guaranteed Replacement Cost

That one word – guaranteed – makes a big difference if you’re facing a total loss of your home.

When you’re issued a policy with just replacement cost, the insurance company works with you to project how much it would likely cost to fully replace your home. You can see the replacement cost and the specific limit for your policy on your declarations page. Replacement cost is provided up to the limit shown on the declarations page.

The replacement cost amount usually gets increased annually – usually by 2 to 5% based on inflation in your area.

Yet, if your home is destroyed and a builder actually estimates that the cost to rebuild is more than that replacement cost figure… then you, as the homeowner, are responsible to make up the difference. That’s why it’s important as a home owner to make sure you know and are comfortable with how much your home is insured for.

Here’s an example: If your home is insured at a replacement cost of $200,000, and in reality it is going to cost $250,000 to rebuild, then you either need to come up with an additional $50,000 or find ways to reduce costs… which could result in a smaller, less-appointed house than you originally had.

The premium amount you pay for replacement cost compared to guaranteed replacement cost is typically about the same, although some factors unique to your situation may make one or the other more expensive.

Extended Replacement Cost vs. Guaranteed Replacement Cost

With extended replacement cost, your insurance company assures that a financial cushion exists in the event that cost of rebuilding is more than the estimated replacement cost.

Specifically with Erie Insurance, that cushion is 25 percent above the dwelling amount, as shown on your declarations page. So for a home insured at $300,000, extended replacement cost would give you an extra $75,000 to work with. Yet again, if costs go beyond that extra $75,000… you are on the hook to make up the difference, or rebuild a smaller home. While 25 percent may seem like a lot, there are often circumstances that cause costs to soar well beyond that.

“When a hurricane or tornado does a lot of damage in a specific area, the cost to rebuild skyrockets,” Buckel says. “Everyone is trying to rebuild, and the cost of lumber, labor and building supplies all go up. If you don’t have the right coverage, you are not going to have nearly enough to rebuild.”

            Related: How Named Storms Affect Your Insurance Coverage

Premium costs for extended replacement cost are generally comparable to guaranteed replacement cost, although some factors unique to your situation may make one or the other more expensive.

Guaranteed Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value

In simple terms, actual cash value is basic coverage. While there’s no doubt that actual cash value is typically your least expensive option, there is also truth in the old saying, you get what you pay for.

With actual cash value, you get coverage for a pre-determined set amount, and no more. Further, some policies also factor in depreciation of things such as an aging roof – so you may end up with even less than the policy states.

Compared to guaranteed replacement cost, actual cash value often offers the least attractive option as you will likely be required to pay out-of-pocket costs if you aim to restore your home to its previous design and condition.

As we mentioned above: ERIE does not offer actual cash value loss settlement for the dwelling on your primary home – it’s only available for secondary homes and contents.

Better Safe Than Sorry

Of course, the ideal scenario is that you will never need to use guaranteed replacement cost coverage. That’s why it’s so vital to be proactive in protecting your home.

Yet, if you do need it, you can rest assured that guaranteed replacement cost coverage will provide the money necessary to rebuild without requiring you to shell out additional cash.

“If it’s a covered loss and costs run high, we will pay whatever the difference is,” Buckel says. “It’s on us, not you.”

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Small Business Insurance

6 Tips to Track Your Small Business Expenses

Small Business InsuranceIf you’re a small business owner, chances are you didn’t start your company out of a passion for bookkeeping. But as you grow, financial management becomes an increasingly important responsibility.

For many, it’s an unfortunate truth. We all know that running a small business takes long hours and a lot of hard work. And this often means tasks like tracking expenses can easily fall by the wayside. But this important job plays a critical role in successfully managing your cash flow.

If you don’t keep tabs on how much money is going out, you can quickly find yourself in a difficult situation. Keeping an eye on your expenses will not only help you reach financial goals, it can also provide some extra deductions come tax time. (For specific advice about your individual tax situation, remember to always consult a tax professional.)

So how can you make sure you’re tracking your costs wisely? Use these six tips as a guide:

  1. Keep business and personal expenses separate. One of the biggest mistakes many small business owners make is mixing their personal and company expenses. Not only is this difficult to track, it can also be problematic in the event of a tax audit. Always use separate bank accounts to pay your bills and carry two separate credit cards – one you use for personal purchases and one that’s just for business expenses.
  2. Know what qualifies as a business expenses. According to the IRS, a business expense is one that’s both ordinary and necessary. Taking a client out for lunch? That will likely qualify as a business expense. Taking your client out to a baseball game afterwards? New changes in the tax law have made most entertainment expenses no longer deductible. Consult your tax adviser for further clarification.
  3. Log expenses immediately. We’ve all gone through a credit card statement and found purchases we didn’t remember making. For this reason, it’s important to record your purchases as soon as they’re made. Taking this diligent approach will help reduce the risk of an accounting error. And there are plenty of technologies that make it quick and easy (see No. 6).
  4. Organize your records. It’s time to ditch that shoebox full of crumpled receipts. Instead, keep all your receipts in a folder according to their month. Or better yet, scan them or snap a picture on your phone to store the images digitally. For recurring payments like utilities, create a notification on your calendar so you can remember to print and save your bill.
  5. Review your expenses regularly. Now that you’re tracking expenses, be sure to take a routine look at where your money’s going. Check your books every week to ensure expenses appear in good standing. This will help reduce the risk of bounced checks or unpaid invoices. Then, at the end of each quarter, look at your expense trends. This can help you identify areas where cuts can be made.
  6. Use technology to your advantage. Keeping a written ledger or updating an endless spreadsheet can be exhausting. Luckily, there are plenty of mobile apps and online tools that can do the job for you. If you’re already tied to an accounting software, major players like Concur and QuickBooks may be a good solution. But there are plenty of other great (and often low-cost) options available. Some other popular options include Zoho ExpenseExpensifyRydoo and Shoeboxed.

As a small business owner, you’ve got a lot on your plate. So when it comes to protecting everything you’ve built, you need someone you can count on.

https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/how-to-track-business-expenses

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Teen Driver

Help Teens Drive Safer

This Program Uses Brain Science To Help Teens Drive Safer

For many teens, getting a driver’s license is a prized rite of passage. But with drivers age 16 to 19 involved in more accidents than any other age group – it’s also a risky and nerve-wracking time for parents.

So, what’s a safety-minded family to do?

Enter teenSMART®, an award-winning crash reduction training program from ADEPT Driver®. A new partnership between Erie Insurance and ADEPT Driver offers special discounted access to the program to teen drivers covered by ERIE policies in Wisconsin and Virginia.

Read more: What To Know About Insuring a Teen Driver

Using advanced behavioral science and research, teenSMART offers youthful drivers realistic and challenging driving simulations. Teens that complete the computer-based course learn skills proven to dramatically reduce teen driver crash frequency and severity.

Even better? Teens who complete the program may be eligible for an auto insurance premium reduction when they’ve finished.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The teenSMART training is divided into short 30-minute chapters that teens can complete at their own pace on their home computer. It takes about 8 hours to complete. The program is designed to address these six behavioral and social factors that cause 90% of all teen car crashes:

  • Visual Search
  • Hazard Detection
  • Speed Adjustment
  • Space Management
  • Risk Perception
  • Lifestyle Issues

The curriculum is reinforced with in-car driving exercises and other activities for parents (or another licensed adult, age 25 or older) and teens to complete together. Learn more about the curriculum on the teenSMART website.

ADEPT’s teenSMART program has been proven to reduce crash frequency by up to 30% and bodily injury by over 50%. Read more about the research in this whitepaper from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation.

ABOUT THE NEW PARTNERSHIP

“ADEPT Driver incorporates cutting-edge behavioral science to improve driver behavior and reduce teen drivers’ risk of collisions,” said Jon Bloom, vice president of personal auto, Erie Insurance. “One of the key components of ERIE’s mission is to provide as near perfect protection as is humanly possible. Offering our customers proven tools to protect their new driver, when they are at the greatest risk of injury, helps us fulfill this mission. We encourage all teen drivers to complete teenSMART training.”

“We are delighted to partner with Erie Insurance to reduce teen driver crashes,” said Dr. Richard Harkness, CEO of ADEPT Driver. “ERIE is a premiere brand and insurance industry leader. We are proud to join with them to improve safety on our roads and highways by making teenSMART available to their customers.”

HOW CAN I SIGN UP?

This program is currently available to ERIE customers in Wisconsin and Virginia. If you’re an ERIE customer, contact your local ERIE agent for more details or visit the teenSMART website.

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