I got hit by a driver with no insurance

By | Business Insurance, Personal Insurance

What should you do if you’re in an auto accident and the other party doesn’t have insurance?

Shame on you other party!

Unfortunately, this has happens all the time. I’d like to help you to avoid learning some hard lessons.  So here are the steps to take right away.

First Things First

Take care of injuries immediately.  This should go without saying, but medical comes first.  If someone needs to go to the hospital that takes priority.  Period.

At the Scene

So let’s assume there are no injuries and you’ve safely pulled into a parking lot.  The other guy is digging through his glove box, “I swear it’s in here somewhere”.   Sure it is buddy.

After a few minutes of frantic digging and a few excuses, he can’t provide you with insurance information.  That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but that’s how you need to treat the situation.

Don’t escalate the situation.  Don’t worry about whose fault the accident is.  Accusations will only make a bad situation worse.  Just politely let the other party know that you’d like to exchange information and let the insurance companies sort it out.

Depending on the state you’re in, you may want to call the police.  The reality is they may not even show up.  If they’re busy, then your car accident is going to be a low priority. But call anyway.  Police can take statements and record information to help you avoid any issues down the line.

By the way, the police don’t decide who’s at fault.  Unless they saw the accident, they’re just taking statements and writing down the facts.

Take photos.  Time to use that cell phone for something other than selfies and pictures of brunch.  Snap photos of the damage to your vehicle and the other party’s vehicle.  Get copies of driver’s licenses, license plates, the accident scene, damages, road conditions, etc..  This may be helpful information to a claims adjuster later on.

Get witness information.  Your passenger is a lousy witness.  First of all, they were scrolling through Instagram, not paying attention.  Second, they’re totally biased.  You need a real witness.  If the accident was outside of a coffee shop, stop in and see if anyone saw anything.  You might get lucky and get a good credible witness.

Once You Get Home

You’re going to want to write your statement down.  You could even just record yourself at the scene.  You may have to repeat yourself several times and you want your story to be consistent.  Consistency makes your version more credible.

Call your insurance agent.  Remember all that money you pay every month?  Time to shine insurance agency!

A good agent or broker will work for you and will be able to offer the best advice.  They’ll tell you how your insurance will respond and what the best course of action is.

What to Expect Later

Once you’ve turned the claim into your insurance carrier, they’ll do the heavy lifting.  At this point it will pretty much look like any other accident.  This means that you’ll be responsible for your deductible.

Your insurance carrier may try to subrogate against the other party though.  That means they’ll try to get your money back from the guy that hit you.  Really though, if the other guy doesn’t have insurance, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

The good news is that auto insurance does have some coverage built in just for this situation.  Click the link for more on that.

Lastly… don’t shoot the messenger.  Your premiums may increase at renewal.

I know what you’re thinking, “but it wasn’t my fault”.  Yes, true, but the insurance company paid the claim.  And depending on the company they may or may not surcharge for a not-at-fault-accident.


Hopefully this information is totally useless to you because you’re never involved in an auto accident.  Too bad that’s not the case for everyone.

Bonus thought

There may be a point where the other guy says, “Don’t call the cops, I’ll just pay you cash”.

That’s great, just keep in mind what they’re really saying is “I didn’t pay my insurance premium, but I’ll pay you.  Trust me”.



Employer’s Liability- Part II of the Worker’s Comp Policy

By | Business Insurance
When people think about workers compensation coverage, they often overlook the Employer’s Liability section.  My pap would have called it the redheaded stepchild of the policy.
But employer’s liability insurance is important.  It covers the employer if the employee wants more than just lost wages and medical bills paid.


How about an example?

Let’s say you own an accounting firm.  One day, one of your bookkeepers is involved in a nasty stapler accident and loses their left arm.  (Fortunately they are a righty, so not all hope is lost!) There is an intrinsic value to having an arm.  Workers comp will pay for lost wages and medical bills.  But they will want compensated for their missing arm.

The employer’s liability will pay for that missing arm.

This is America, Land of the Lawsuit!

You can’t cut your grass because of a work injury, so you have to hire a lawn service.  Employer’s liability could pay for that service.

A new grandmother injures her back at work.  Now she can’t lift her grandkids.  Again, employer’s liability would compensate her for that loss.

Or imagine a young husband who could no longer …. consummate.  You better believe he’s going to want some cash.

Coverage Limits

There are 3 coverages provided by employer’s liability.

  1. Accident – each incident– this limit is the maximum amount of coverage provided for any one accident regardless of the number of employees.
  2. Disease – policy limit – this is the aggregate limit that your policy will pay out for any one disease contracted by employees in the course of employment.
  3. Disease – each employee– this is the maximum that your policy will pay to any one employee for a disease.

The Good News

In PA, workers comp policies come with some employer’s liability coverage built in.  Basic policies include $100,000 of coverage.  I strongly encourage anyone buying a workers compensation policy to consider higher limits.

It’s usually only a few dollars to bump those limits up to $1,000,000 a piece.  Of course you don’t want to use this coverage.  But this is one of the best ways to get the most bang for your insurance buck.

To sum it up..

Workers compensation provides lost wages and pays the medical bills of your injured employee. Employer’s liability pays for damages that workers comp doesn’t pay.  So do yourself a favor and talk to your agent or broker about increasing your liability limits today.

Don’t have a worker’s comp policy?  Call us today, we can help!

Full Tort or Limited Tort

Full Tort or Limited Tort?

By | Personal Insurance

Full Tort or Limited Tort: What in the world and why?


On behalf of all Pennsylvanians,

I sincerely apologize for this goofy law.


A while back, law suits from car accidents resulting in pain and suffering were clogging up the courts.  To help stifle these suits, the legislature introduced the Tort Option in PA auto insurance policies.  So now, when you purchase your auto policy you  have to choose whether you will ever want to sue for pain and suffering or not.  If you make the wrong choice when you buy, well… too bad.

Looking for some light reading on the subject?  Anyone who’s ever read the statute can tell you it’s complete gibberish. 

Let’s see if we can help you make sense of this mess.

Full Tort

If you select full tort on your auto policy, then you are not limited in your rights to sue for all damages in the event of an injury.  This includes damages for pain and suffering.

Full tort is easy enough to understand.  Basically you are keeping all of your rights.  So you get to decide if you should be able to sue for damages beyond just medical bills and lost wages.

Limited Tort

Limited tort on the other hand, is more complicated.  If you select limited tort, you have restricted your rights to collect from a third party or your insurance company for ‘non-monetary damages’.

In other words cannot sue for pain and suffering, mental anguish, or other damages that are not measurable financial losses.

Tis but a scratch

There are a few scenarios where the tort option doesn’t apply.  Notably, commercial policies and for ‘serious injuries’.


But who gets to say what is a serious injury?

As defined by the statute, a serious injury results in “death, significant deformity or impairment of body function”.  If you’re thinking that’s a little unclear, then I totally agree with you.  What you or I may consider a serious injury, your insurance company may consider minor.  Even if it’s permanent.

Full Tort or Limited Tort: So which option should I select?

There is only one reason to select the limited tort option.  You get a reduction in premium which can be significant (generally about 15%).  Beyond that, you are either betting that you’ll never need the insurance or conceding the fact that you will not recover for pain and suffering.

If your budget for auto insurance allows, we always recommend selecting full tort.  Most people don’t consider themselves ‘the suing type’.  However, once someone is injured and a claim for pain and suffering is denied by the insurance carrier, people have a very different point of view.  By then it is too late and we are forced to live with the decision that we made up front.

Buyer’s Remorse

Now as with most insurance, you can change your tort selection at any time (before the accident!!). If you’ve selected limited tort, maybe it’s time to consider rethinking that choice. Talk to your agent or broker to decide what is right for you and for your family. If you’re looking for an agent to help you out we’d love to hear from you!

Workers Compensation Audit

Surprise!! It’s Workers Compensation Insurance Audit Time

By | Business Insurance

Don’t get blindside by a massive workers compensation audit!

Business is booming! Sales are up, profits are up, workload is up and free time is down.  Time to bring on some more help.

These are good problems. Some might even call them goals.

What you need to know when buying your workers comp policy

When payroll increases, your workers compensation premiums will increase as well. Your workers comp insurance premium is initially based upon an estimate. You as the business owner are asked to provide an estimated payroll to the insurance carrier. The insurance carrier then provides an estimated premium based upon the payroll that you provided.

At the end of the year you will receive an audit request from your insurance carrier.They will ask you to confirm your payroll (broken out by class), overtime, meals and lodging, as well as amount paid to subcontractors.  It doesn’t matter which carrier you have, they will all require an annual audit in some form.  All workers compensation policies require exact payroll eventually.

If you have overestimated your total payroll for the previous year, then you will either receive a refund or a credit toward your renewal term.

Worst case scenario

However, if you have underestimated your total payroll for the previous year then you will receive a bill.  The workers comp insurance carrier will also adjust your new policy term to reflect the higher payroll.

So if you underestimated your payroll dramatically, then you could be hit with a large premium bill for the prior year’s insurance.  (Keep in mind your general liability may have similar stipulations.) On top of that large premium audit bill, you’ll have to start paying the renewal premium for the current term. The insurance carrier will likely increase this year’s worker’s comp premium to match last year’s increased payroll. This can all add up to a lot of cash flowing out at once that you didn’t budget for.  Ouch!!

Some other things to keep in mind

If you use subcontractors, you may also be responsible for paying for their workers compensation premiums. The PA Department of Labor and Industry provides some guidelines as to who is a sub vs who is an employee.

When you do hire subs, make sure you’re getting a certificate of insurance showing that they carry workers compensation insurance. If you can’t show that your subs carry their own comp policy you may be charged for them as if they were employees.  Ouch again!!

Don’t shoot the messenger, but carriers typically have the right to look back 3 years and charge any premium due.

Show me some solutions

Many carriers have started to offer pay as you go workers comp programs. Basically you report your payroll to the carrier every time you pay your employees. Then the carrier takes a premium payment based upon your reported payroll. In theory then, the carrier always has accurate and up to date information.

They are still likely to require an audit. The benefit to you is that your audit should match with your reported payroll exactly. No surprises.

Other than that, the key is to talk to your agency and keep them up to speed on your estimated payroll. We’d love to hear from you if you have questions. Call us today and we’ll help to eliminate this and other unwanted surprises.

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Homeowner’s Insurance and the Hamburger Paradox

By | Personal Insurance

What do hamburgers and homeowner’s insurance policies have in common? 

Okay let me set the stage for you. It’s Wednesday night and both kids have basketball practice. There is no chance you can cook dinner and make it to practice on time. So to the drive thru window we go! You place your order, pay at the first window and grab your food at the second.

Now you’ve been burned before. You’ve pulled away from the restaurant only to find out you’re one burger short. Never again! So before you even leave the parking lot you hand the bag to the passenger seat with instructions to “make sure it’s all there”.

It makes sense.  The stakes are pretty low, but you want to make sure you get what you paid for. There’s an immediate negative effect felt if your order is wrong. And that’s why you pop open the bag before you leave the parking lot.

Now let’s raise the stakes. 

Let’s apply that same theory to your homeowner’s insurance policy. Do you check to make sure you’re getting what you paid for? I’m betting that’s a no. No one reads their policy even though you should. And that’s because you don’t need it right now. You buy homeowners insurance so that maybe, some day in the distant future you might use it… maybe. Your home policy is more of an abstract promise than a tangible product.

I think we can all agree that your home insurance policy is much more important than your missing burger. It’s easy to count how many sandwiches are in the bag, but knowing what’s in a homeowner’s policy- now that’s a tall order.

So how can the average consumer evaluate what is actually covered by their homeowner’s policy?

  • Don’t go it alone. The internet is a magical place where you can buy anything you need. Or don’t need. But you should not be buying something as important and complicated as a homeowner’s insurance policy over the internet. You need a human person who has your best interest in mind. Just don’t do it!
  • Do your homework. Fun stuff right?  Here’s a link that will give you some information in a nice readable format.  You don’t have to be an expert, but you should have a basic understanding of what you’re buying.  You need to know enough to understand if the person you do talk to has your best interest in mind.
  • Ask the right questions.  Okay this one may be a little tricky.  What if your insurance agent provided you with a comparison against your current coverage and a list of other coverages you might want to consider? (by the way, that’s exactly what we do).

So getting back to the original question now, what do hamburgers and homeowner’s policies have in common? I would say, not much. One key similarity is you want to know what you’re getting.

I’ll leave you with this closing thought. People often call us and ask for the cheapest home insurance policy they can get. I would equate that to walking into a fast food joint and asking for a discount on the one that fell on the floor six months ago. Bon appetite!!


How a Student Going to College Affects Your Homeowners Insurance

By | Personal Insurance

Off to School

So your first born just moved 600 miles away.  Wow, there’s a lot to think about in that statement.  And not that you don’t have enough on your mind, but have you given any thought to how your homeowners insurance is affected?

When you think about your homeowners insurance, you probably first consider the coverage on your home itself.  But a homeowners policy covers all the stuff in your house as well.  But now your taking your son or daughter’s belongings and moving them to a dorm.  Is their stuff still covered at the dorm?  What about an off campus apartments?  How about liability coverage?  The answer is definitely maybe.

Who Gets Coverage on Your Homeowners Insurance?

So in order for your stuff to be covered on  your homeowners insurance, you must be an ‘insured’ on the policy. (Apologies for going a little insurance nerdy here).  A typical insurance policy will read as follows:

“a student enrolled in school full-time, as defined by the school, who was a resident of your household before moving out to attend school, provided the student is under the age of 24 and your relative.”

Okay so a freshman coming straight from high school is likely covered.  However, if a student takes some time off of school, or enters into a graduate program, they could easily exceed the age limit.  By the way, there’s an endorsement to take care of that situation.

How Much Stuff is Covered by Your Homeowners Insurance?

Now we know who is covered.  But then we have to address how much coverage is provided by your homeowners insurance.  Typically policies are limited to 10% of your property coverage to another location.  Depending on your personal property limits, 10% may be more than enough.  But if you have relatively low property limits 10% may not cut it.  Check out a Dorm Checklist, the property can really add up.  In that case you’ll want to add an endorsement to increase the off premises limit.

Now the homeowner’s policy does pretty good in providing coverage for theft, even granting a little more latitude on the off premises coverage for students.  However, insurance giveth and insurance taketh away.  Coverage for theft is excluded if the insured (the student) hasn’t been at school for 60 days.  So between Fall and Spring semesters, you’re probably alright.  However, toward the end of Summer break, your kid’s belongings are likely no longer covered for theft.


Should you consider a Renters Policy?

We’ve pointed out a couple of scenarios and how to address them within your existing homeowners policy.  I think there’s a much better solution though.  You can probably buy a renter’s policy for your scholar for $150.

You’re doing your homework on the subject now, but what happens if your child decides to drop a class to keep their GPA up.  Now they may be considered part time by the school.  All of the sudden they lose coverage on the homeowners policy and their belongings are unprotected.  Moreover, they would no longer be covered for liability on your home policy.  So instead of maybe just losing a few thousand dollars worth of stuff, they’re sued for half a million dollars.  And you thought student loans were going to be your biggest concern.

So to recap

  • The student must be under 24 for homeowners coverage to apply
  • They must have moved directly from your household
  • Also, they have to be a full time student
  • He or she must be your relative
  • And finally they must have been at their dorm or apartment within 60 days
  • or forget everything else and just get a renter’s policy

We’d be happy to speak with you to help determine how to best protect yourself and your children.  Not a customer yet?  Call today to get competitive rates on homeowners insurance from our friendly and knowledgeable staff.  We can’t wait to hear from you!

Featured Photo Copyright: xixinxing / 123RF Stock Photo


What businesses need to consider purchasing Employment Practices Liability Insurance?

By | Business Insurance

Who should consider purchasing Employment Practices Liability Insurance?

It seems more and more we hear about employees asserting discrimination and unfair employment practices by their employers. If you don’t believe me, just turn on NPR for a little while. As these allegations increase, so does the need for employers to protect themselves.  This can be done with Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI).

EPLI is intended to protect employers from claims brought by employees (and others).  Claims could include wrongful termination, discrimination, sexual harassment, breach of contract, emotional distress, and labor law violation suits initiated by employees. Claims for EPL are typically excluded from a general liability policy. Some business owner’s policies however, do have nominal amounts of  coverage built into their coverage package.  It’s usually not much though, commonly $25,000 with an option to increase coverage from there.

What should I consider when purchasing Employment Practices Liability Insurance?

The first question you have to ask is whether you currently have EPL coverage or not. EPL is often provided on a claims made basis. So if you do have coverage you’ll want to make sure that prior acts (acts that occurred before the current policy term) are covered.

You should also consider who the coverage protects you from. Employee is more of a nebulous term than previously.  Are “1099 employees” considered employees? What about subcontractors? What if a vendor alleges sexual harassment?  Your broker should be able to walk you through the terms of  your policy.

So how much Employment Practices Liability insurance do I need?

The size of your company and your payroll should play heavily your equation when considering how much EPLI to carry. Obviously the more employees you have, the more likelihood that someone will feel slighted. Just by sheer volume your chance of a claim rises.   Having more employees also lends itself to a group or class of employees banding together to bring suit on common grounds.

Payroll often times will play into the eventual judgment calculation. For instance, someone who is wrongfully terminated may ask for a multiplier of their pay as compensation. Therefor an employee with a larger salary could receive a larger judgment in the end.

Other factors to consider.

Finally, talk to your agent of broker about your industry. Are you in a high turnover industry? Are your employees predominantly male or predominantly female? Have you been forced to downsize your labor force? Some business owners might find that they are comfortable having a minimal amount of coverage just in case. Others may want to reach out to specialty markets and try to purchase larger more inclusive policies.  Either way, we’d be happy to help if you have questions!


Money saving tips on buying Auto Insurance

By | Personal Insurance

Alright let’s get down to brass tacks.  When it comes to car insurance price is king.  Now I’m a believer in the product as well.  I spend all day every day explaining why insurance is important.  Important as it may be, it does no one any good if they can’t afford it, so here are some tips to help you save on your auto insurance now and in the future. Read More


When not to turn in an insurance claim

By | Personal Insurance

When not to turn in an insurance claim

We get this call all the time.  “Hey guys, I’ve got a minor insurance issue.  Should I turn in a claim.” 

It’s always up to you, but here are some guidelines to help you decide whether you should use your insurance policy or not.  But sometimes it’s best just to bite the bullet and pay out of pocket. Read More