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Archive for the ‘car insurance’ Category

More on hacking into car systems

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We wrote about losing data through rental cars (link here for the post).  The next day, out popped the news that Fiat/Chrysler is releasing a patch to fix a vulnerability which was just exploited, experimentally, by two researchers.

The researchers took control of some systems in a Jeep, from a physical distance, while the target was moving, by hacking in.

Fiat/Chrysler points out that it has not happened in “the real world”, yet.  And Fiat/Chrysler has already created a network level fix for other vulnerabilities.

The point is not that Jeeps are more vulnerable than other brands.  It probably is not.  It is that there are perhaps 26 million cars on the road with some remote data transmission (think Internet).  All new cars in the US have some access or can be accessed.  Therefore, eventually are cars will have these benefits, and vulnerabilities.

Your personal and commercial auto insurance policies can provide physical damage coverage.  The liability coverage protecting the owner from suits for injuries to passengers looks secure so far.  But protection for the manufacturers, dealers, and service shops?  That’s where the dice are still rolling.

Stay tuned.

Link to a Property Casualty 360/Bloomberg article on the patch for Jeep systems 800-548-2329

Data Loss Through a Rental Car?

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Let your paranoia loose!

  1. You fly into an airport for a meeting or vacation.

  2. You rent a car.

  3. You connect a device to that rental through Bluetooth.

  4. You put your call logs and contacts in the car’s system.

  5. You return the car at the airport and fly home.

  6. You leave your info for the employees at the return site or the next person who rents the car.

Numbers 4 and 6 were probably not on your to-do list.

You can usually wipe out the data before you turn the car back in.  It’s not technically difficult but each make of car has a different process.  Take a look at your own car’s process for saving that info.  Then check rental cars when you pick them up.  Or ask a tech person from your IT provider.  Or don’t make phone calls through the car.  Or demand that the rental site show you how to wipe the memory.

As newer systems like Apple Car Play become standard in new cars, the problem should diminish.  Those systems display info but don’t store it.

Does your personal car insurance cover this? Take a look; nope.

Call us with car insurance questions.  GBW Insurance agency in New Jersey 800-548-2329.

Click here for a  longer report from Fox News  This one is from Kim Komando (

Insurance Company Financial Stability

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Insurance companies are rated for financial strength.  Why does that matter?

Insurance is a promise to pay future losses.  If the company does not have a future, no payments.  And some losses are going to happen years down the line.

Property losses tend to be settled shortly after they occur.  You owned a building, it burned, the value is usually relatively easy to establish, you are paid for the loss.  The solvency of your insurance company is not of concern because of time, but because property is exposed to catastrophic threats such as hurricanes, which might bankrupt a small insurance carrier which has not prepared properly.

Liability losses, especially large losses, are usually litigated.  That can take years.  If an insurance company becomes insolvent, that will at a minimum complicate and delay settlement and payment.  An insurance company which misestimates its average losses far in the future will be in trouble.

So, how do you assess the strength of your insurance company?  While states review the strength of insurance companies within their supervision, day to day the best measurement is available from private companies that specialize in rating insurance carriers.

Without getting into a long discussion of the relative merits of the rating companies, one of the best is A.M. Best.  Ratings run from A++ to F, with additional notes for the future (stable, negative, favorable).  Here’s a link to Best’s explanation of their financial strength ratings.    You can sign into Best for free to get basic rating information on most insurance carriers.  (Some decline to submit their results for rating.  Not a great sign about the company.)

Or call GBW Insurance at 1-800-548-2329 and we can give you the information.  We are also paid subscribers and are therefore able to access detailed information as well.

Commercial Automobile Insurance – Loss prevention…

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Backing up accidents are a significant cause of loss for businesses with commercial automobile insurance.  A good insurance company will have training and educational materials to help business owners manage their vehicle fleets to avoid accients.   Untrained and unscreened drivers cause accidents.  Call us if you’d like to discuss some of the issues or what insurance companies can do to help you.  1-800-548-2329.  Or get some basic information at the GBW Insurance website by clicking here

A couple of points to consider:  90% of backing accidents are preventable by taking care and using proper techniques.  And the majority of backing accidents with bodily injury involve children under the age of 5.  Not only does proper training lower insurance costs, it saves lives.

The following is a summary sheet from CNA Insurance (one of the “A” rated carriers we work with), discussing some basics for safe parking and backing.

From CNA Insurance: 

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA) study determined that over 90% of backing accidents
can be attributed to one of the following causes:
• Driver was unaware of the obstacle
• Driver used improper backing techniques
Yet, these accidents can be prevented by using some of
the following simple accident prevention techniques:
Preplan trips to avoid or to minimize the need for backing.
• When entering an alley that does not permit drive
through or turnaround, back into the alley, if allowed
by local ordinance, since it is usually safer
to back into the area with less traffic. This will enable
you to see the traffic as you exit the alley.
• When backing out of an alley, ask someone to be
your guide, and signal when it is safe to back into
• When a guide is used, instruct the guide to use
appropriate hand signals rather than voice commands.
• The majority of backing accidents with bodily injury
involve children under the age of 5. Make a
walk around inspection of your vehicle before
backing, especially in an area where young children
can be anticipated.
• Park defensively to prevent your vehicle from rolling
into another vehicle. If parking on an incline,
turn the front wheels into the curb to prevent the
vehicle from rolling.
• Park in the middle of the parking space. This will
allow you room to exit the parking space without
backing and provide space if backing is required.
• Never take any situation for granted. Even though
you may have parked or backed into a location
many times, evaluate the location to determine if
clearances have changed or if new obstacles are
• Experience is required to develop good backing
techniques. If you have access to a designated
area to practice backing – use it.
• Learn exactly how the rear of the vehicle responds
to every little movement of the steering
wheel. Practice – Practice – Practice!
• Know what’s going on around you at all times and
perform all backing maneuvers SLOWLY.
• Check all your mirrors when backing. Know the
mirror blind spots. Conduct a walk around inspection
of your vehicle to check these blind spots or
get someone to guide you while backing. Know
the clearance to all obstacles and the exact distance
to your stopping point.

The information, examples and suggestions presented in this material have been developed from sources believed to be reliable, but they should not be construed as legal or other professional advice.
CNA accepts no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of this material and recommends the consultation with competent legal counsel and/or other professional advisors before applying this
material in any particular factual situations. This material is for illustrative purposes and is not intended to constitute a contract. Please remember that only the relevant insurance policy can provide the
actual terms, coverages, amounts, conditions and exclusions for an insured. All products and services may not be available in all states and may be subject to change without notice. CNA is a registered
trademark of CNA Financial Corporation. Copyright © 2010 CNA. All rights reserved


When you’re sued…

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If you are sued, and the insurance company defends you, but the claim is later proven false, do you owe the defense costs back to the insurance company?  (Almost certainly not, but check with GBW Insurance.)

Does your “umbrella” liability policy match the coverage of the policies under it?  (Very often, no.)

What happens if your “umbrella” liability policy does not match or exceed the underlying policies?  (Nothing good.)

Does the coverage under these excess liability or umbrella liability policies change over time?  Yes.

Have questions?  Call us at 1-800-548-2329, or check our web site

For more information here, our thanks to the Professional Insurance Agents ( for the following:

Umbrella policies have the distinction of being unique, just like snowflakes. Although the Insurance Services Office Inc. and the American Association of Insurance Services Inc. have recently introduced standard personal and commercial umbrella policies, most insurers are still using their individually filed policies. Close examination of each insurer’s policy will reveal many variations in coverage provisions. Consequently, the single most important fact to recognize about umbrella policies is that each one must be studied for content and employed on its individual merits.

What’s in a name?
The word umbrella suggests that protection moves around wherever the insured goes. Presumably, the one holding the umbrella would be in complete control of its effectiveness in shielding against harm. While such use of the word umbrella creates a familiar image for marketing purposes, it lacks something when applied to the real world of protection.

The cartoon
I have my own vision of umbrella policies from an agent’s perspective that tracks more accurately with reality. I got it from Saturday morning TV cartoons. A person (insured) is standing on the ledge of a high-rise building window screaming, “Help!” to all below on the street as tongues of fire lap at his ears. Meanwhile, firemen (insurance agents) below are scurrying around with an outstretched sheet (insurance policy) in an attempt to catch the falling victim (insured) before he hits the ground. The comedic effect in the cartoon is derived from the firemen’s uncertainty about where to position themselves in order to catch the victim in the sheet.

The reality
If an agent has not closely examined the umbrella policy he sells, he has no idea how large the sheet is with which he intends to catch the insured (in cartoon terms). For the insurance agent, the reality is no laughing matter. Further, with the complexity of modern life and ever-expanding legal culpability, it has become very difficult to predict exactly where the need for coverage might fall.

The average insured lacks the knowledge required to know the effectiveness of an umbrella under varied situations. Thus, agents are being called upon to not only provide an umbrella but to accompany the insured wherever he goes to make sure that it is in place to provide the necessary protection.

There is a limit to the protection an agent can provide. Usually, it will be defined by the repertoire of policies available for the agent to sell. But an agent’s services have not truly been adequately performed


until all readily ascertainable exposures have been matched with coverage; or, at the very least, identified not to be covered.

Excess vs. umbrella
I like to refer to an umbrella policy as the “Oh my gosh!” coverage. Oh my gosh, the claim is so big that it exceeds the limits of the primary policy; or as can easily happen with commercial risks, the primary limits have been used up and are no longer available. This aspect of umbrella coverage is really what we call excess coverage. It is the additional stacking of limits using identical coverages to those provided by a policy designated as primary.

An umbrella policy includes excess coverage but goes another step further by covering some drop-down exposures. Now it’s, Oh my gosh, the claim is so unusual that it’s not covered by the primary policies and this drop-down coverage picks it up.

The trend of most insurers, though, has been to move umbrella coverage in the direction of excess coverage. In fact, many insurers are offering only the equivalent of excess coverage under the semblance of umbrella coverage, especially when it comes to personal umbrella policies. What were once thought to be incidental coverages have now become substantial exposures to insurers because of the modern social and legal environment. The transmission of the AIDS virus, for example, threatens tremendous financial consequences. Rather than building these new exposures into the rate, most insurers are choosing to exclude them.

The jargon
You may have noticed that many specialized policies have their own particular language. Umbrellas are no exception. Let us take a look at some of the common terms encountered when writing umbrella policies.

Follow form. An excess policy is said to follow form when it provides the same terms of coverage as that provided in the primary policy.

Underlying policy. This is the primary coverage required to be in force for certain designated exposures, according to the terms of the maintenance of underlying insurance provision. Limits are specified for each type of underlying policy. Coverage must be maintained in those amounts because an umbrella claim will be treated as though they are available to the insured, whether actually available or not.

Self-insured retention (SIR). By resembling a deductible, a SIR represents the amount of loss that is retained by the insured before coverage under the umbrella is triggered. It specifically applies to coverages not requiring an underlying policy; that is, the drop-down coverage.

A SIR can differ from the usual deductible in that it does not offset the limit. The umbrella limit is stacked upon the amount of the SIR, just as it is stacked upon the underlying policy limit. Another difference from the deductible is the fact that the insurer has no obligation to respond to a claim until the insured has incurred expenses for the amount of the SIR. However, even these characteristics can vary among policies.

Retained limit. This is an amount defined as the greater of the underlying limits required and the total limits available under the primary policies; or the SIR, if applicable.

Ultimate net loss. The insuring agreement promises to pay the ultimate net loss in excess of the retained limit. This is the amount payable under the terms of the policy after deductions for all recoveries and salvage. If defense costs are paid outside (in addition to) the limits, then the definition of ultimate net loss in the policy will exclude them. But if the defense costs are paid inside (an offset of) the limits, then the definition will include them.

Insurance Agency choices

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Our thanks to Peerless Insurance ( for this piece, which is just shameless self-promotion for us.
Call us or go to our website ( for more info.

To get the lowest rates and the best coverage you need to acquire your business insurance from a local independent insurance agent rather than dealing directly with an internet based insurance company. It is not true that that dealing directly with an insurance company is the best method to get the lowest rates. In fact, there are many reasons why you should be using an independent insurance agent to provide your business liability and property insurance.

Reason #1: Local Independent Agents Save You Money

When you are dealing directly with an insurance company, you don’t have some one making sure you are getting the lowest possible rates as well as the correct coverage. This is important because your business insurance rates are not only based upon your type of business, sales, loss experience and other information about your business, but are also based on the operating costs of the insurance company. An independent agent will make sure you are dealing with the a low cost company.

When you work with a local independent insurance agent, they will look at multiple companies to make sure you are getting low premiums and the correct coverage. Local independent insurance agents are in business to provide their customers with the best possible coverage at the lowest possible rates, so in the end you normally pay less for commercial insurance.

Reason #2: Local Independent Agents Give You Better Service

A local independent agent offers you one-on-one service. You can call them directly without having to deal with annoying 800 phone directory options or computerized assistants. You can visit your agent in person or have them visit you as they are located in your local area. When it comes to business insurance, business owners need that attention. They need to know that if something happens that they can get immediate attention. It is very frustrating to need your insurance agent and not be able to get in contact with them.

Having your own insurance agent is important. When you choose to deal with a local agent, you get your own agent. Dealing directly with the company may mean you never have your own agent. You calls are answered by a call center and you speak to someone different every time you call. If you want focused attention and an agent that really knows your business then you want to deal with a local independent insurance agent.

Reason #3: Local Independent Agents Have Knowledge About Your Business

One part of liability insurance business owners may not think about is that insurance rates are based on where you live. When you get business insurance a local agents will know the area and your business insurance requirements. They will know what types of coverage you need and how much coverage you should get. They know from experience, not just from looking at charts that give averages. You can actually get a more detailed insurance policy when you work with an independent agent because the agent knows the area and what is needed in insurance coverage for your specific business.

The local independent insurance agent will provide many valuable services. They will visit your company, do a risk analysis and learn about your business so they can determine what are your specific insurance requirements. More important, when you have a local independent agent as your representative you you will have someone to represent your interests and fight for your rights in case of a claim or a conflict with the insurance company. If you are dealing with a website you will most likely wonder – “Who should I speak to when I am in trouble?”

As you can see, there is a huge difference between buying business insurance, commercial insurance or liability insurance from a local independent insurance agent versus directly from the insurance company. You will get a better insurance product and better service if you choose to do business with a local independent insurance agent.

Our new favorite safety inspection

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Fireworks tent at a gas station in Connecticut. Join us again for another installment of “Good idea…bad idea”.!/photo.php?pid=4502395&fbid=414424203600&id=192213413600

Written by gbwinsurance

June 22, 2010 at 1:53 pm