Spring Insurance Tips for Sporting Vehicle Owners

Campers vehicles at sunsetThe sun is shining, the flowers are in bloom, and it’s time to back the RV, dirt bike, golf cart or ATV out of the garage. Spring is prime time to purchase Florida sporting vehicle (also called specialty vehicle) insurance. Before you head out for adventure, opt for the safety net insurance provides.

Not sure where to begin or whether a policy is necessary? Here are some details to consider:

Insurance for Golf Carts

Golf cart


Zipping through neighborhoods on a golf cart is one of the highlights of being a Floridian. However, that Caddyshack-themed cart absolutely needs to be insured if it meets the following criteria: Use of said cart could cause damage to another person or that person’s property. Your homeowners’ policy may extend liability while it’s on your “insured location,” however, unless you expect to keep it in the garage indefinitely, you are likely going to need to add a golf cart policy with your Florida homeowners insurance.

On another note, if the cart is “street legal,” don’t forget a license plate. An auto policy (including personal injury protection) is required by law as well.

Recreational Vehicles

Driving a recreational vehicle (also known as RV or travel tank) is in itself a huge accomplishment: there’s just so much more to keep inside the lane lines than a standard automobile chassis. Why add any additional worry to a travel itinerary? From backing into your favorite camping site to unexpected storm damage, it’s smart to fully insure your Florida motorhome against collision, theft, bodily injury, and fire. A good RV insurance policy won’t give you the ability to drive straighter – but it will offer peace of mind as a buffer against other hazards.

Dirt Bikes and ATVs

Muddy ATV

For drivers of dirt bikes and ATVs, insurance is more than a securely fitted helmet. We know you understand this, but we’ll say it again: these vehicles can be dangerous. Insuring them just makes sense. The amount of coverage is up for discussion, but some protection is imperative. With offerings of collision, property damage, bodily injury, comprehensive, medical payments and uninsured motorist protection, you can choose the plan that works best for you and your family.

And yes, you should still wear a helmet.

Sporting Vehicle Insurance Coverage Types

Camper vehicle in the woods


You’ve heard most of these terms before during your quest for automobile coverage, but here’s a quick reminder of what insurance covers for sporting vehicles. These are all aspects of sporting vehicle insurance that can be personalized and bundled to fit your needs.

Collision. Reimburses you for damage sustained to your personal automobile, if you cause an accident.

Property Damage Liability. Covers you for any financial liability that occurs should you be involved in an accident and cause damage to someone else’s property.

Comprehensive Physical Damage. This general term includes collision insurance as well as your choice of full comprehensive insurance or the more limited fire and theft with combined additional coverage (CAC) insurance.

Liability. Protects you from the risks of liabilities imposed by lawsuits and similar claims.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP). An extension of car insurance that covers medical expenses and, in many cases, lost wages.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist. Protects you if you’re in an accident with an at-fault driver who doesn’t carry liability insurance or whose liability limits are too low to cover the damage or medical expenses

Medical Payments Coverage. Pays medical expenses for you and/or your passengers if you’re injured in a car accident, regardless of who caused the accident.

Towing. Pays the cost of towing your vehicle to a repair shop when it is unable to be driven and covers a specified amount of necessary labor charges at the place of the breakdown.

Gap. Protects against losses that can arise when the amount of compensation received from a total loss does not fully cover the amount you owe on the vehicle’s financing or lease agreement.

Go forth this spring and enjoy those specialty vehicles. With the right insurance coverage in place, you’ll feel the freedom to let loose. To discuss the best plan for your favorite toys, contact one of our W3 agents today.

New Year, New Exposures – The Importance of Holiday Gift Insurance

importance-of-holiday-gift-insuranceEveryone who fit a trampoline, puppy, drone or diamond under the tree, listen up: you are not only popular in your home right now, but you also likely need to adjust your personal lines insurance. For many of us, the New Year came with new exposures. Here’s how to back some of those fun and precious gifts from Santa with the proper holiday gift insurance protection.

  • Puppy owners – Congratulations on your new addition! Along with new bowls and chew toys, it may be time to purchase an umbrella policy. No, not because cuteness is now raining down upon your family, though it most certainly is. Many a Florida homeowners policy excludes animal liability. If protection is available through homeowners insurance, it usually offers a lower limit of liability coverage. A personal lines umbrella can extend your limit or close that coverage gap. Also consider purchasing pet health insurance, especially if your fuzzy bundle of joy is of a breed known to develop health problems.
  • Drones – These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are classified by the FAA as bonafide aircraft. That leaves your Florida homeowners insurance carrier to decide whether you receive personal liability protection under your current policy. There’s a reason for this. Plenty of accidents have been attributed to drone use. UAVs have been reported to literally fall out of the sky and damage people and/or property. They’re not just ‘remote control cars in the wide blue yonder.’ Check your residential insurance policy with your agent and gauge any additional coverage needs.
  • Golf cart – We’ll ignore for the moment that you obviously purchased that vehicle for yourself. But know this: that cart and your liability arising out of its ownership and operation is likely unprotected. Specific insurance policies or endorsements for golf carts exist precisely for this reason.  Note: When you call your insurance agent for options, be prepared to say, “This sounds like auto insurance!”  Florida golf cart insurance is really very similar, with coverage offered for elements such as bodily injury, collision and property damage.  It’s also important to note – if your golf cart or low speed vehicle has a 17 digit vehicle identification number (VIN), you are then required by the state to have an auto policy with PIP coverage in place at all times.
  • Baubles and other bling – Jewelry may be insured under your Florida homeowners policy – or it may not be. Get an appraisal and work with an insurance expert to properly protect your investment.
  • Additions to existing policies – So you went for the whole bow-on-the-car Christmas morning shock factor? Good for you! Make sure to call your insurance agent and add that SUV to your auto policy. The same goes for a new boat or home expansions.

For all these new exposures and more, you can trust W3 Insurance to offer solid guidance and comprehensive personal lines insurance. Call us today at 727-522-7777. We’ll insure your New Year treasures with peace of mind protection.

When Small Cars Don’t Equal Big Savings

The news media would have you believe that gas guzzlers are ‘out’ and tiny hybrids are ‘in,’ and it would stand to reason that Florida auto insurance premiums should plummet as a result. At least, that’s what plenty of eco-conscious consumers would have you believe. However, before you head to the car lot to pick the tiniest, most fuel efficient vehicle available, read this article. The size and efficiency of a car does not necessarily indicate cost savings – nor does it automatically lead to life saving.

 This holds true because:

  • There’s a reason the saying That car is built like a tank applies to mammoth vehicles. A smaller, lighter car is likely to offer less protection to those within – and that means more potential damage in a crash situation. It’s simply an issue of weight and inertia. The more steel surrounding passengers, the heavier the vehicle will be.
  • Sure, it takes less gas to power that hybrid vehicle. That’s a win for the environment, no question. Just don’t expect your bank account to necessarily reflect your altruism. Smaller cars are more likely to require higher premiums, and that can outweigh any savings you may enjoy in gasoline costs. Why the higher premium? Reference the first bullet point. Small cars are not often built like tanks. They crumble more readily in many crash situations. Anyone who has witnessed a fender-bender involving a small car versus a large one can attest to this.
  • Money-wise, that tiny car may not help on the insurance savings side. Your driving record and insurance score have a significant effect on your premium. Safe driver? Holder of good credit? There’s a great likelihood your premium will reflect these above and beyond the actual type of car you choose, though one widely known to be safe won’t hurt the cause.
  • The meaning of ‘saving’ is twofold. Save money – and save yourself and your passengers from injury. Regardless of the type of vehicle you choose to drive, check the safety rating of the vehicle before you sign on the dotted line. It’s wonderful to save the Earth and the money you’ve worked hard to collect. It’s even more important to save those whom you transport on four wheels.

It’s common for consumers to just visit a dealership and choose an automobile at the right price that looks safe and snazzy. Resist the temptation. Go ahead and take a step back in the car purchasing process and inquire about auto insurance. An experienced advisor at W3 Insurance will help you factor the cost of Florida auto insurance into your overall budget, giving you a clearer picture whether that vehicle is right for you.

For those small car aficionados out there: Do your research and find peace of mind before the purchase. Select a vehicle with high-rated safety capabilities.  A recent article featured in the U.S. News and World Report highlights some of the best small cars in terms of safety. Read it here: https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/safest-small-cars

Distracted Driving Awareness Month

More than 40,000 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2017, and distracted driving was a major cause. According to the National Safety Council, distracted drivers cause a death every 15 minutes. The repercussions of these tragedies are real for the workplace. A death of an employee can spur productivity loss, increase claims (whether workman’s comp or group health insurance), incur possible litigation for the employer, heighten stress and cause morale issues.

Safety shouldn’t end at the office – the most dangerous environment is out on the road. Participate in Distracted Driver Awareness Month. Create an employee awareness campaign and institute clear workplace policies regarding cell phone usage. If no policy exists, such use may be viewed as an acceptable practice. Remember: a distracted driver is four times more likely to crash.* Make it company policy that employees put down the phone while driving.

NSC offers infographics, posters, fact sheets and a number of social media-friendly initiatives: http://safety.nsc.org/ddam

They also have a webinar planned for this month. See the description below for registration information.

Webinar: Engaging Ways to Address Distracted Driving at Work

NSC Senior Program Manager Lisa Robinson and Medstar Risk and Safety Manager Shaun Curtis will present a free webinar, Engaging Ways to Address Distracted Driving at Work, on Thursday, April 19, 2018. With car crashes the No. 1 cause of workplace death – and distracted driving a leading cause of crashes – you can learn how workplaces can help addresses this problem in a way that engages employees. The webinar will be held at 11 a.m. Central time.  Register through this link: http://eventcallregistration.com/reg/index.jsp?cid=75732t11

Uninsured Motorist Coverage – Stacked, Non-Stacked or Reject?

Stacking uninsured motorist coverage, selecting coverage limits or rejecting coverage completely is a personal decision, but we recommend our clients consider stacked limits. Read the information below for more details on Uninsured Motorist insurance coverage.

What about uninsured motorist coverage? Should I elect or reject coverage?

If you or a resident relative are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver and you or the relative (and even passengers in your vehicle) are injured, who will pay for the medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress or pain and suffering sustained due to the accident? The other driver may not have insurance or may have low bodily injury liability limits. Some protection will be available with Personal Injury Protection coverage on your automobile policy for you and your resident relative, but PIP coverage is typically $10,000.

What if the medical bills and expenses are close to $100,000 each? If you elect to carry Uninsured Motorist bodily injury coverage, there would be coverage available up to the selected limit.

Total rejection of uninsured motorist coverage can lead to a worst-case scenario that no one wants to experience: no coverage. You, your resident relative or a passenger in your vehicle then has to pay out of pocket for their expenses. Even if all injured parties have health insurance, there could be expenses not covered by health insurance. Examples include lost wages, emotional distress and pain and suffering.

Not long ago, Florida ranked 1st for the highest percentage of uninsured motorists.  That’s a startling statistic – and yet another reason to reconsider adding or stacking uninsured motorist coverage to your policy.

Keep in mind that to elect the same limits of uninsured motorist coverage for all insurance policies, you should check for gaps in coverage. If your auto policy has 250/500 and your motorcycle policy has 100/300, you are not getting the same coverage from one policy to the next.

Stacked or Non-Stacked Uninsured Motorist coverage: What’s the difference?

Let’s picture uninsured motorist coverage as buckets filled with insurance protection. Each vehicle on a policy has a bucket of coverage. Each bucket contains uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage of 100/300 ($100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident) and there are three vehicles on the policy.

There would be three buckets, one for each vehicle, filled with 100/300 limits.

If the automobile policy has non-stacked uninsured motorist coverage, each vehicle has 100/300 coverage available for each vehicle individually. If the policy holder or a covered resident relative are injured by an uninsured driver, there is only the one bucket of coverage available for the vehicle involved in the accident.

Now, use this same example but change the coverage to stacked uninsured motorist. All buckets of coverage are stacked together to give three times the amount of coverage to the one car involved in the accident. Therefore, the available coverage would be 300/900.

Please keep in mind that the stacked limit will change if the number of vehicles on the automobile policy changes. Let’s say you delete a vehicle – then the maximum limit would change to 200/600 because there are two vehicles on the policy.

The bottom line is this: don’t depend on other drivers to ‘do the right thing’ and opt for coverage. It’s up to you to protect yourself and those you love in a sufficient manner.

A quote for this important coverage is simply a quick phone call to us.  Call today to speak with an experienced member of our team.

 

Postscript: This blog post was inspired by a client query regarding stacked versus non-stacked coverage. We hope you find our description as helpful as she did. Her response is below:

Thank you so much for this detailed email….Thanks for putting it into laymen’s terms so I can understand.  Your help is very much appreciated. 

-Carol Dettman-Smith

 

For more information detailing the benefits of stacked versus non-stacked insurance and to inquire about policy options, contact a W3 agent today at 727-522-7777.

Is Golf Cart Insurance Worth It?

Is Golf Cart Insurance Worth ItIn recent years, golf carts have become a popular form of transportation.  Golf carts are great for short trips around the neighborhood or simply a Sunday evening cruise. This recreational trend has raised several coverage concerns for golf cart owners including whether or not they need golf cart insurance.

There are currently two types of golf carts available to a consumer.  The unlicensed golf cart is designed to carry up to four people on a golf course and not built to exceed a speed of 25 miles per hour. A licensed golf cart can exceed 25 miles per hour and meets the safety requirements of the state it is licensed in.  

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Do You Ever Text and Drive?

Texting while driving makes you 6 times more likely to have auto accident than a DUI

distracted driving

Well wait until you hear this; the average time it takes to respond to a text message is 5 seconds; if you’re traveling at 55MPH that equates to the length of a football field.

Texting & driving continues to be an ongoing problem not only here in the United States but across the world. There are approximately 2.5 Million automobile related accidents every year in the United States alone. Studies show that 1.6 Million of these automobile accidents are related to use of cell phones while driving which accounts for 64% of auto accidents here in the US.

At this time no states ban all use of cell phones, but 46 States plus DC Puerto Rico, Guam & the US Virgin Islands have implemented bans on Text & Driving. There are also many groups out there that are working to end texing and driving including: The Distracted Driving Foundation, Stop Texts Stop Wrecks and Teens against distracted driving.

Here are some helpful tips provided by these organizations:

  • Designate a Texter-Have someone text for you or offer to text for them while their driving.
  • Turn your cell phone on silent so you’re not prompted to respond when you receive messages & notifications or better yet, turn your cell phone off.
  • Put your cell phone out of reach.

As technology advances and the popularity of the Smart phone increases so do auto accidents related to cell phone use. So why not download an app that will prevent you from texting while driving:

Here are some of my favorite FREE Apps:

  • AT&T DriveMode aka It Can Wait-Turns on automatically at 15PHM, Silences incoming calls & sends out auto-replies and has parental alerts. You don’t have to be an AT&T customer to use it.
  • Safely Go-Allows calls & text only from your 3 VIP contacts and sends an automatic reply to everyone else that you’re on the road and driving safely. Enables calls through your Bluetooth or other hands-free device. Gives you access only to your top 3 “Driving Apps” (like maps, navigation, or music)
  • Sprint Drive First-Similar to Safely Go but also has parental controls so you can keep your teen drivers safe.
  • ly-Enhances hands free safety features by announcing your incoming calls. The app is fully customizable so you and adjust features for optimum safety and convenience.

*Please note that data and message fees may apply.

Teens aren’t the only ones guilty of this distractive behavior however the statistics for teens tend to be much higher. It is important as adults that we always try to set a good example. Make sure your teens understand that it’s not only unsafe to text and drive but remind them that it’s illegal including texting while at a stop light. Share with them the Safety tips listed above and make sure they have a helpful app on their phone. We set rules and guidelines for our kids in other aspects of their life and texting and driving should rank near the top of that list.

Christina Takarewicz,  ctakarewicz@w3ins.com – Personal Insurance Advisor

Understanding the Florida No-Fault Law

Understanding the Florida No-Fault Law

What is No-Fault Law?

The Florida No-Fault Motor Vehicle Law requires drivers to carry Personal Injury Protection coverage as part of their auto insurance; this No-Fault coverage pays the insured’s bills, regardless of fault, up to the limit of the insurance (minimum limit is $10,000). For example, after an accident, one’s No-Fault coverage would pay $10,000 towards personal recovery. Personal Injury Protection pays 80% of medical bills, 60% of lost wages, and 100% of replacement services costs (any service needed because of a loss of ability caused by the accident); also, PIP contains a $5,000 death benefit, should the driver die due to injuries sustained in the accident (Note that PIP claims must be made within 14 days of the accident). This law was passed with the intention of lowering the number of tort (civil wrongs, usually caused by negligence) lawsuits in relation to car accidents. So, instead of immediately suing each other, the two parties in the accident now have their own Personal Injury Protection, regardless of fault, with which to pay personal bills incurred by the accident. It is important to note that PIP is not liability insurance and it benefits the insured only. This coverage follows the individual around the state of Florida, whether driving an owned, borrowed, or rented vehicle.

What is Covered in my Auto Insurance Policy?

A personal auto policy contains sections on liability coverage, medical payments coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, and other sections with general information regarding the policy (duties after an accident, general provisions, damage to your auto, endorsements, etc.). Typical liability limits are split into three categories: bodily injury per person, bodily injury per accident, and property damage per accident. The minimum limit in Florida is 10/20/10—this means that the insured would receive $10,000 of bodily injury coverage per person, with no more than $20,000 paid per accident, and $10,000 of property damage coverage per accident. Medical Payment limits apply per person per accident and act as primary coverage when the insured is driving an owned auto and secondary when the insured is driving a non-owned auto; typical limits are $500, $1,000, $2,000, and $5,000. Uninsured motorist coverage protects the insured if he is not at fault in an accident with an uninsured or under-insured driver; UM limits cannot be greater than standard liability limits.

Where does No-Fault Coverage fit into my Auto Insurance Policy?

Personal Injury Protection (No-Fault Coverage) is a required endorsement (added coverage) to auto policies in the state of Florida and takes priority in paying the insured after an accident, regardless of fault. If a driver holds basic PIP, $5,000 of Medical Payments coverage, PIP would cover 80% of medical bills up to $10,000, and then his Medical Payment coverage would pay the remaining costs, up to $5,000. Suppose that this driver incurred $25,000 in medical losses—the first $15,000 would be paid by his policy and the at-fault driver would be liable for the remaining $10,000 of medical bills. If the at-fault driver was carrying the required liability limits of 10/20/10, the at-fault driver’s policy would pay the insured the remaining $10,000. If the at-fault driver was not carrying the required limits, the insured driver is in need of Uninsured Motorist coverage for the remaining $10,000. Without UM, he could have to pay the remaining $10,000 of medical bills out of pocket—this is the benefit of Uninsured Motorist coverage. Uninsured Motorist coverage exists to pay the insured should his policy limits be exhausted and the at-fault driver be uninsured or under-insured; it serves as a precautionary measure to ensure that the driver is insured and covered should the other party not be.
Overall, No-Fault coverage protects and pays for the insured’s expenses in any accident; after No-Fault coverage is exhausted, the insured can turn to Medical Payments coverage; after Medical Payments coverage is exhausted and if not at fault, the insured can look to the other party’s liability insurance; and finally, should the opposing party’s limits be exhausted or nonexistent, Uninsured Motorist coverage can, within its limits, cover the rest.

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Auto Insurance: What Does 10/20 Really Cover?

Two Cars Auto Accident Insurance LimitsDo you know your auto coverage limits? Do you feel comfortable with the limits that you have? You may be surprised when you learn the answers to these questions.

Florida law does not require individuals to carry Bodily Injury Liability, however many Floridians carry $10,000 per person/$20,000 per accident. If you carry only minimum personal protection, your assets and future earnings could be at risk if you were found at fault in an accident causing death or injury to another person. What you need to ask yourself is: How much liability insurance would protect my future?

Here is a real life tragedy to help put these numbers into prospective. A teenage son was driving his younger sister and her friend to the movies. He lost control of the vehicle, left the road, and hit a telephone pole. The friend permanently lost the use of her right arm and suffered severe brain injuries resulting in permanent brain damage. The claim was settled for $1.3 million. Minimum coverage on this claim would not begin to cover this tragedy. Your personal assets and future income would likely be taken to pay this claim.

Bottom Line:

Don’t take the chance on not having enough coverage. Limits of 10/20 is simply not enough coverage. They are called accidents for a reason and they can happen anytime. Competitive rates are available and may allow you to get better coverage without much more out of pocket cost. Contact one of our Personal Insurance Advisors to learn more.

 

Night Driving Dangers

A little extra caution can go a long way while driving at night

Summer has ended, and while fall and winter have their own pleasures — including camp fires— longer nights mean increased danger on the roads.

You might think you drive just as well at night, but consider this: Even though nighttime driving accounts for just 23% of vehicle miles traveled, more than 50% of fatalities for vehicle occupants 16 and older occur between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., according to the National Safety Commission (NSC).

Because we’re big advocates for safety at WWW, we thought it would be helpful to take a look at why night driving is more dangerous, and what you can do to decrease that danger.

What’s dangerous about night driving?

  1. Decreased vision. We won’t go into all the biological details, but different parts of the eye (such as iris, pupil and retina) work differently at night. Your peripheral vision is actually slightly improved, but it’s more difficult to focus on objects ahead of you. And traveling between well-lit areas and darker roads creates issues as well.
  2. Driving too fast for your headlights. Depending on vehicle speed and headlight setting, many people “over-drive” their headlights. That means, by the time they see something on the road, it’s too late to stop in time to avoid it.
  3. Impaired judgment. Whether due to drowsiness or the use of alcohol or drugs, it appears that drivers at night often don’t use good judgment. According to the NSC, 66% of fatalities at night involve vehicle occupants who weren’t wearing seat belts.

So what do you do?

Sometimes, there’s no way around driving at night. So here are some tips to help you make a safe trip — whether you’re just running to the store, or you’re headed across town.

  1. Make sure your vehicle’s lights are in good working condition. And not just headlights, but turn signals, taillights, etc.
  2. Avoid speeding. Leave a bigger cushion between you and other cars than you would during daylight hours. Leave yourself more time for the trip.
  3. Be more aware of your surroundings. You shouldn’t be using your phone, messing around with the radio or trying to find something on the floor while you’re on the road anyway — and distractions are even more deadly at night. 

Of course, if you’re not comfortable driving at night, the best thing is to avoid it altogether if possible. There’s nothing wrong with asking for a ride from a trusted safe driver or waiting for the sun to come out!

Contact Us!

 At Wallace Welch & Willingham we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 727-522-7777. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!