Monday, September 24, 2012

Still waiting for your auto premium to reduce?

photo by flgov.com
A few months ago, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the PIP Reform in hopes to reduce the amount of auto insurance fraud in Florida (if you didn't know, Florida is ranked one of the top states for fraud). While this reform promised a dramatic decrease for auto insurance premiums as a result of a decrease in auto fraud payout, the results have been less than anticipated. Below is the article from the Insurance Journal, entitled Florida Regulators Question Auto Insurance Savings.

Florida regulators are warning that a preliminary report estimating a new law will cut no-fault auto insurance premiums by 12 percent to 20 percent may be misleading and overly optimistic.
The Office of Insurance Regulation released a consulting firm’s draft report last Friday in response to public records requests by the news media. The final version is due Sept. 15. It’s required as part of the new law, which is designed to reduce insurance fraud.

“The final conclusions may, and probably will, change prior to the report being finalized,” wrote office spokesman Jack McDermott, who also issued a list of caveats.

One is that the estimate is for premiums that insurers are entitled to receive. Companies, though, often ask for lower premiums because auto insurance is highly competitive. That difference could reduce or eliminate any savings.

Another caveat is that the savings would be just for personal injury protection, or PIP, which accounts for only about 20 percent of a typical insurance bill. Also, any savings will not be realized until Jan. 1, 2013, at the earliest and there’s no requirement for insurers to accept the report’s findings.
Insurance companies, meanwhile, could seek premium increases for other reasons that could negate all or part of any savings.

Donovan Brown, state governmental relations counsel for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, also urged caution on the draft report prepared by Pinnacle Actuarial Resources Inc.
Brown noted that the law will not be fully implemented until next year and courts may interpret it differently than the Legislature intended.

It calls for a 10 percent premium savings unless companies can explain why they can’t cut that much. Insurers also are required to cut rates by 25 percent in a second rate filing due Jan. 1, 2014, but they again can avoid it with an explanation.

Florida motorists have been required to buy no-fault PIP coverage since 1972 to make sure anyone injured in a crash gets money to treat their injuries without delay. A driver’s insurance company is required to pay up to $10,000 for medical bills and lost wages no matter who is at fault.
Bogus claims and faked accidents, though, are largely responsible for a $1.4 billion increase in PIP costs since 2008, state officials say.

The new law puts a 14-day limit on seeking treatment after a crash. Benefits also are capped at $2,500 unless a doctor, osteopathic physician, dentist or a supervised physician’s assistant or advanced registered nurse practitioner determines there’s an “emergency medical condition.” Chiropractors cannot make that determination.

As you can see, there might be delayed gratification of this PIP reform being passed. Luckily, waiting on the results of the reform is not your only option for receiving lower premiums. At Fearnow Insurance, we carry all of the major insurance companies in Florida, and we can quote your auto with all of our companies to ensure that you are receiving the best price and the best service. You can either quote yourself through our website or call us at (813)689-8878. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Ready to Bring Out the Fall Decorations?


We have officially entered the fall season, which means that we can shamelessly cover our homes in auburn foliage and plastic fruits to celebrate the new season. While some of these decorations can be adorable, others can come off as cluttered and busy. Here are a few fall decorating tips from H&G to help make your home look like a fall festival. 

1. Place autumn leaves around your bookshelf to add a little fall to your favorite corner. You can either place them freely on the shelves, drape them over your favorite novels, or press them inside a shadow box on one of the shelves. Either way, it will add some color and some fall to your shelves. 

2. Decorating for fall does not have to be busy. By simply changing the color of your normal decorations, you will add a little bit of a the changing season into your home. For example, replace your everyday candles with orange and red ones, or change your normal flowers to orange, yellow, and reds. Add some fall colored leaves to your flower vase to enhance the fall effect without cluttering your home with decorations.

3. Replace your centerpiece with one that reflects the fall season. Fill a glass bowl or large vase with fake autumn leaves, and then place a few small pumpkins (white or orange) or a couple candles around the perimeter to give your table an autumn feel.

Try these few tips to make your decorating fun and easy ... and give your home a fresh look for fall!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers

Want a healthy alternative to chicken fingers? Give your kids the taste that they love without the deep-fried, terrible nutrition that is not good for them. Try these almond-crusted chicken fingers! 

Makes 4 servings
Active Time:
Total Time:

 

 

Ingredients

  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 pound chicken tenders, (see Ingredient Note)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 475°F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Set a wire rack on the baking sheet and coat it with cooking spray.
  2. Place almonds, flour, paprika, garlic powder, dry mustard, salt and pepper in a food processor; process until the almonds are finely chopped and the paprika is mixed throughout, about 1 minute. With the motor running, drizzle in oil; process until combined. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish.
  3. Whisk egg whites in a second shallow dish. Add chicken tenders and turn to coat. Transfer each tender to the almond mixture; turn to coat evenly. (Discard any remaining egg white and almond mixture.) Place the tenders on the prepared rack and coat with cooking spray; turn and spray the other side.
  4. Bake the chicken fingers until golden brown, crispy and no longer pink in the center, 20 to 25 minutes.

Tips & Notes

  • Ingredient note: Chicken tenders, virtually fat-free, are a strip of rib meat typically found attached to the underside of the chicken breast, but they can also be purchased separately. Four 1-ounce tenders will yield a 3-ounce cooked portion. Tenders are perfect for quick stir-fries, chicken satay or kid-friendly breaded “chicken fingers.”

Nutrition

Per serving: 174 calories; 4 g fat ( 1 g sat , 2 g mono ); 66 mg cholesterol; 4 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 27 g protein; 1 g fiber; 254 mg sodium; 76 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Selenium (31% daily value).
Exchanges: 3 very lean meat, 1/2 fat

Recipe from EatingWell

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Before you get that rental car...

An ongoing question that we hear in the agency is the question of whether or not a rental car is covered under your auto policy. As stated in previous posts, this question does not have a universal answer. Most auto companies will protect a rental car, but that is not always the case. It depends on the company and if you have utilized that option on the policy. I strongly suggest that you call your insurance agent before purchasing insurance from the rental car place - just to be safe.

However, the previously mentioned question is not what I want to address in this post. Rather, I would like to discuss the dangers that can occur when not adhering to the instructions on your insurance policy concerning rental cars. I am going to briefly explain a court case that happened in April of last year, in hopes that you will understand the importance of following the insurance guidelines when it comes to rental cars.

Jonathan Purvis owned a Toyota pickup truck that was insured by Progressive. Since his family was coming to town to stay with him, he needed a vehicle that could hold more passengers. Hence, he rented a car for the week. Purvis declined the insurance coverage from Thrifty Car Rental because his Progressive policy covered him (note, this is not always true with insurance policies). Later that day, Purvis let his daughter, Ashley, drive the rented car with her friend, Kelly Smith.

Unfortunately, Ashley and Kelly were involved in an accident, and Kelly suffered extensive injuries. Purvis looked to Progressive to cover the lawsuit that Kelly's parents filed, but Progressive denied the claim. They stated that Jonathan Purvis was the only insured driver for the rental vehicle, and any other driver would not be covered.

Purvis argued the claim, stating that his Progressive policy stated that any rental vehicle was covered and that Ashley was an insured driver on his Progressive policy. However, what Purvis did not realize is that his Progressive policy clearly stated that a substitute vehicle would only be covered if the insured vehicle is not being used due to breakdown, repair, servicing, loss, or destruction. Under this definition, his insurance company denied that claim, because his truck was still operating normally at the time of the rental car use. The case settled for $1 million.

Moral of the story:
It is important to get all of the insurance facts before renting a vehicle; this will allow you to drive your rental car with the peace of mind that you are covered in the event of an accident. Also, please list all possible drivers on your rental car, or simply do not let unlisted drivers use your car. By adhering to these rules, you might save yourself a world of trouble down the road.

As always, we have agents who are licensed and ready to answer any questions about coverage or different insurance situations that you might have. You can also go on our website and use our "live chat" option. Our number is 813-689-8878 and our website is www.fearnowinsurance.com

Written by Kelly Jones


Monday, September 10, 2012

Budget Cutting Tricks

Often times, people associate cutting their budgets with losing fun and entertainment. However, that is not always the case (though, sometimes it is included). In today's economy, it might be beneficial to cut back on some padded areas in your budget that you might not even know about. Here are a few tricks to help lower your expenses. You can do just one or you can combine them all, based on your personal needs.

1. Eating Out
Yes, we all know that constantly going out to lunch and dinner can add some extra expenses in your budget. This is an obvious area in which to cut back. However, what about that Starbucks coffee you get every morning on your way to work? The average cup of coffee is $2.25. That's an extra $11.25 a week. Doesn't sound like much, right? Let's try this: that's an extra $582 a year. That's quite the expensive habit. If you're anything like me, and you have to have your coffee in the morning, try investing in a coffee machine at home and a travel mug. It will cost less than $50 and you will be saving over $500 a year. Oh, and don't forget to cut back on your dinner and lunch expenses.

2. Lighting and Air Conditioning
Teach your children the importance of turning off a light when they are not in a room. These lights constantly running can increase your electric bill tremendously. You might also consider investing in dimmer switches and lower wattage bulbs. The air conditioning can be a little trickier, especially living in Florida where it is HOT every day. Try keeping the house a different temperature between the night and day. At my house, we typically keep it a few degrees cooler during the night, and then bump it up a little during the day. You would be surprised how much money this actually saves you.

3. Shop the Sales
Need a new bathing suit but don't want to pay an arm and a leg for one (I can't even begin to fathom why bathing suits are so expensive)? Shop the sales. Bathing suits go on sale right after Labor Day, even though we swim year-round in Florida. Make your current bathing suit last a few more months and buy your new one when it's half price. I realize that buying new clothes is sometimes a necessity, but that doesn't mean that you have to spend full price for anything. Look through the Sunday ads, go online to find the sales - these things will save you a ton of money in the long run. For example, I love shopping at Macy's. A couple Saturdays a month, they have the One Day Sale. This is when I do my shopping. I went this past Saturday and bought $385 worth of new clothes... do you want to know how much I paid? $73.00.  I only paid $73.00. Little changes in your shopping can save you a ton of money in the long run.

Another tip is to buy quality items. That really expensive designer jacket that you keep staring at WILL go on sale. I promise. Just be patient. When you buy quality items, even if the sale price is still a little bit of a splurge, you won't have to replace them for a long time. Take care of your clothes. Wash them delicately. Hang them to dry. This might sound like a little extra trouble, but cutting back on how often you need to replace clothes will also cut back on your amount of spending.

4. Buy in Bulk
It might be a wise investment to become a member of Costco or Sams or another equivalent bulk-shopping store. By buying things in bulk sizes, you will actually cut down in your grocery expenses. Instead of buying individual packs of chips to send to school with the kids, buy a large bulk bag and divide them up into plastic baggies (that you can also buy in bulk) or in Tupperware. You will cut down on your grocery cost and your environmental waste, all in one shot!

5. Borrow
Sometimes it is more beneficial to borrow something than to purchase it. For example, if you never use a pizza cutter, but need it for this one night, call your neighbor and see if you can borrow it. Likewise, if you are redoing your landscape, but otherwise you never do yard work, ask your neighbor if you can borrow their wagon to haul the plants around instead of buying one that you will never use again.

Here is one rule of thumb that I have learned when borrowing: DON'T BORROW SOMETHING THAT IS TOO EXPENSIVE FOR YOU TO REPLACE. Inevitably, you will have that one moment when you ruin something that you borrowed. For me, it was a pair of shoes that I borrowed from a girlfriend to wear on a date. I scuffed the side of them pretty badly, and had a replace them. The only problem was, they were way too expensive for me and it did some serious damage to my budget. So, unless you have the money to replace it sitting in a savings account or "emergency fund", it might not be the best idea for you to borrow it.


These ideas were found in the Women's Day magazine.

Written by Kelly Jones

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Florida Governor Opens the Disaster Fund

In light of hurricane Isaac and tropical storm Debbie, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for certain areas of Florida due to flooding and general damage caused from the storms. A recent article in Insurance Journal has described the state of emergency and the Governor's plans for the insurance relief to the damaged areas:

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has announced that the state is activating Florida’s disaster fund to help residents who suffered property losses from Hurricane Isaac and Tropical Storm Debbie.
Earlier this week, Hurricane Isaac made its way through the Florida Keys and skirted along the state’s southwest coastline leaving behind double-digit rainfall inches through much of the state. As a result, many residents have seen some minor wind damage, although the overwhelming amount of losses has come from a storm surge and rain.
On Aug. 25, Scott declared a state of emergency in some portions of the state due to the impact of Hurricane Isaac.
Now he is calling on Florida’s Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides long-term assistance to communities affected by the storms, to begin making monies available to residents through its Neighbors to the Rescue program.
“While Hurricane Isaac was beating down on western portions of the Panhandle, I got to see, first-hand, the flooding damage the storm left behind in Palm Beach County,” said Scott in a statement, noting that some residents were still recovering from Tropical Storm Debbie. “Your assistance will give much needed help to our friends and neighbors.”
In addition to the Neighbors to the Rescue disaster fund, Scott is encouraging Floridians to donate to other relief organizations such as the American Red Cross and the United Way.
So, what does this article mean to you?

It means that there could be a chance of increased insurance rates, though it is not fully accurate to say that these increases will definitely happen. To be honest, more information needs to be addressed about how much additional funding for the damages is being spent and how many areas are receiving it before the insurance companies decide if they need to increase their rates.

If your rates do increase, however, please remember that we carry all of the major insurance companies in Florida and we are able to search for more reasonable prices for you elsewhere.

I believe that it is also important to note the amount of flood damage that has occurred to areas relatively far from the coasts due to these storms. While flood insurance is required if you live in a flood zone, I strongly recommend that you purchase flood insurance even if you are not in a flood zone. Remember, Florida is surrounded by water and prone to terrible storms, i.e. anyone can flood. Luckily, if you are not in a flood zone, then you pay one fixed, relatively inexpensive, annual rate for coverage to your home from any flood damage.

If you have any questions about your homeowners or flood insurance, please call our agency and speak to one of our service representatives. We offer both business and personal insurance, and we would love to help make sure that your possessions are properly covered at the most affordable price!


Written by Kelly Jones