Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Spend one minute and thirty-one seconds and learn surprising answers to some of the most common auto insurance questions here in Franklin TN and surrounding areas...


My car was broken into and several things were stolen.  Is this all covered by my auto insurance?
Anything stolen would be likely be covered by your homeowners policy, and the damage to your car would be covered by your "Comprehensive" coverage component of your auto policy.

Had a small accident with another car in a shopping mall parking lot. Should I call the police?
You should try, but there's a good chance they won't to come, because a shopping mall parking lot is considered private property, and not necessarily within the police's normal jurisdiction when it comes to a minor accident (although I've noticed that the Franklin TN police are willing to come more often than not).  Best to take lots of pictures, look for witnesses who can back you up, exchange insurance, license numbers, and basic contact information, and do everything you can to prepare to show you were not at fault -- if you weren't.  Based on what you and the other party tells the insurance companies, and what evidence you supply, the insurance companies involved will ultimately decide where to place the blame.

My neighbor's tree fell on my car. Should I get their insurance company's phone number?
No, but you'll need to call YOUR insurance company and start a claim!  It will be covered by your insurance (although your insurance company may later opt to seek payment from your neighbor, if they were somehow negligent regarding the tree).  Events that are "other than collisions", and damage your car, are usually covered by your "Comprehensive" coverage.

As I always say, when in doubt about something, call your agent -- that's what we're here for!

David Yates – Farmers Insurance
1881 General George Patton Dr., Suite 103
Franklin, TN 37067
Phone 615-778-1816  Fax 615-778-1817
dyates1@farmersagent.com

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Quick answers to the most common homeowners insurance questions here in Franklin TN...

I'm considering buying a house. If the previous homeowners had an insurance claim at this house, could that affect how much I pay for homeowners insurance? 
Yes. It's always an excellent idea to request past insurance claims information for the house (going back 5 years), then reviewing the potential home with your insurance agent, who will need to know about the past claims information to help you find the best coverage and rate.  Past claims involving weather (like a hail-damaged roof being replaced), are not as problematic for new insurance as is past water damage as a result of a leaking refrigerator water line, or a broken upstairs toilet line, for instance.

How can I save money on my homeowners policy? 
Assuming you have a competent agent and an adequate amount of replacement-cost "Dwelling" coverage (the amount of money available to pay for repair/rebuilding in the event of a loss), the best place to look is your deductible.  This is the amount of money you pay first when a covered claim occurs, with insurance paying the rest.  Most home insurance deductibles are in the $500-$1,000 range, but you can save a substantial amount on your annual premium by increasing your deductible, to, say, $2,500 or even more.  This COULD make sense IF you have a newer home and roof, where the chances of weather-damage or leaking plumbing fixtures should be lower.

I'm thinking of buying a home in the country and have heard that insurance is sometimes more expensive in rural areas.  What can keep insurance costs down? 
Put simply, make sure the home is within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant and less than 5 driving miles from the responding fire station.  These two factors are absolutely crucial for getting the best rate.

These are questions I hear from folks here in Franklin TN and Middle Tennessee on a regular basis, and the answers I have given are just for starters.  There's a lot more to consider with any of these topics, so don't solely rely on these brief answers --  be sure to discuss them with me in greater detail.

David Yates – Farmers Insurance
1881 General George Patton Dr., Suite 103
Franklin, TN 37067
Phone 615-778-1816  Fax 615-778-1817
dyates1@farmersagent.com


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Monday, April 27, 2015

Car insurance -- demystified! The best 1-minute explanation I've ever seen...

Here's an easy way to understand what car insurance provides:


"Other-Person" coverage.  Hurt or kill someone, or damage their car, and your "other-person coverage" (also known as BI/PD or bodily injury/property damage) kicks in, but only to the limits you chose when you got your policy.  Is it enough?  Otherwise, you could be sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars -- coming from your home equity, savings/investments, even some of your future income. 

"You and Your Family" coverage.  If you or a family member is hurt or killed by someone with little or no insurance (half of the drivers out there), your "Uninsured/Underinsured" coverage steps in, up to the amount you chose when you first bought your policy.  Where would your family get the rest of the money to pay for the medical/funeral bills?  Do you think you have enough?

 "Your Car" coverage.  Make a mistake and wreck your car, and your "Collision" coverage helps out with the cost to repair or replace your car (after you pay an amount called the deductible).  If something else damages your car (tree branch, hail, road debris, hitting an animal, vandalism, stolen, etc.), your "Comprehensive" coverage helps out with the cost, after you pay the deductible.  You don't need this coverage forever, though -- did you know that?
 
Now that you know the absolute basics, know this:  Auto insurance policies ARE different.  That's why they're not all the same price. 

And that's also why you'll get different answers to questions like these, depending on your insurance:  Is your friend covered when they drive your car?  Is that car you rent already covered by your insurance?  Is your new car covered for the full value of your loan?

If you bought your policy online or from a 1-800 call-center, these things probably weren't explained to you.  And you don't have an agent who will take a long-term, personal interest in you, explaining potential gaps you have in your coverage and fixing them for you.  With you and your family's financial future at risk, don't you think it's time you worked with an agent and company who will take the time to help you, not just themselves?

David Yates – Farmers Insurance
1881 General George Patton Dr., Suite 103
Franklin, TN 37067
Phone 615-778-1816  Fax 615-778-1817
dyates1@farmersagent.com

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Beware when someone uses the term "full coverage" when discussing your auto insurance...

Generally, when you hear that you have "full-coverage" auto insurance, what you think that term means, and what someone else thinks it means are likely to be two different things.  Same with "liability-only" auto insurance.  When protecting yourself, your family, and your assets, you don't want any misunderstandings between you and your insurance company!  That's why I don't use these terms with my clients.

The state of Tennessee requires you, at minimum, to have auto liability insurance that covers bodily injury/death and property damage for the "other guy" if you have a wreck with somebody.  That's it.  Yet, there are 5 to 7  specific coverages that you also need if you want to be properly protected.  How are you going to know if you have them, or not, if you tell a 1-800 company you want "liability-only", or full-coverage"?  How do you know what's right?

You need a local, qualified insurance agent who will happily spend the time with you, in person, to explain what the risks are, and make the proper recommendations based on your specific situation.  You can't get that from someone in a cubicle 500 miles away or from an online website.

Let me know how I can help you at my office in the Cool Springs area of Franklin, TN.

David Yates – Farmers Insurance
1881 General George Patton Dr., Suite 103
Franklin, TN 37067
Phone 615-778-1816  Fax 615-778-1817
dyates1@farmersagent.com

Friday, February 27, 2015

Franklin Tennessee flood maps have been revised -- is your home safer, less safe, or still the same?

No one in Franklin TN will forget the severe flooding in May of 2010.  Now, FEMA has revised the flood plain mapping for Franklin TN.  Some folks will now be required to get flood insurance, where they didn't previously.  Is your home affected?  Here's a quick and easy way to find out:  The City of Franklin will present the revised FEMA flood maps for our area, at a community open house held between 4pm and 7pm at City Hall on Tuesday March 3, 2015.  I think every homeowner should see what's changed.  I'll be there, and hope to see you, too.

David Yates – Farmers Insurance
1881 General George Patton Dr., Suite 103
Franklin, TN 37067
Phone 615-778-1816  Fax 615-778-1817
dyates1@farmersagent.com


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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Water leak in your home -- should you call your insurance company 1-800 claims number or your agent first?

If you have a water leak and possible damage in your home, who should you call first (after calling a plumber) -- the insurance company claims number, or your agent?


Call your agent first!  He or she can counsel you on whether it makes sense to file a claim.  Sometimes it does, oftentimes it doesn't.  A situation that seems huge and costly initially, often turns out to be not so much, and if you've started a claim for what will turn out to be only a few hundred dollars paid by the insurance company for the repair, the impact to your future rates may be higher than the amount you received.

It always depends on several factors, including what happened, how it happened, the estimated cost to fix, and your deductible -- items you should fully discuss with your agent before starting a formal claim. 

Insurance companies keep track of claims
Did you know that whenever you call an insurance company's claims phone number, and someone comes to check out your home, it's likely to be recorded as a "claim" or "loss" even if the insurance company ends up not paying anything to fix it?   The number and type of claims that are recorded could have an impact on your current homeowners insurance rates, in addition to your future pricing if you're out shopping for home insurance.  You can help control this by really evaluating whether filing a claim makes sense in the first place.

Of course, things happen, and I encourage my clients to use their insurance if something bad happens, because that's what it's there for.  To use an obvious example, if your upstairs toilet line breaks and floods the upstairs and downstairs, don't hesitate to get a claim started.  For less severe situations, though, take a little time to discuss it with your agent, who is there to give you some good advice. That's what they're getting paid for.

Be smart about your insurance.  Contact your agent first when something happens and take advantage of their experience. 

David Yates – Farmers Insurance
1881 General George Patton Dr., Suite 103
Franklin, TN 37067
Phone 615-778-1816  Fax 615-778-1817
dyates1@farmersagent.com


Monday, December 15, 2014

Best tips I've ever seen for teaching a teen to drive...

When my second daughter was learning to ride a bike without training wheels, I Googled the subject and came across a simple, yet highly effective tip.  Instead of holding to the seat to steady them, gently hold the child by the back of the neck to keep them upright while riding, yet letting their body naturally learn to come into balance.  It literally took 2 or 3 uses of this technique, and my daughter was riding like the wind!

It is in this spirit of improving an important parental teaching moment that I want to share a terrific article I came across in the October 22, 2014 edition of The Wall Street Journal: "Better Ways to Teach Teens to Drive" by Sue Shellenbarger.  It was so helpful, that I thought I'd paraphrase the real salient points for you lucky(?!) parents who are teaching their teenagers how to drive, like me (on my second one -- the same one with the bike!). 

Apparently, we do an okay job with teaching our kids how to steer, park and generally control a vehicle.  But, parents are not expert in teaching the skills new drivers need to avoid accidents.

Parents tend to follow routine daytime driving along familiar routes, but don't go on to teach how to spot and avoid possible hazards, such as slowing when coming to a crosswalk where there might be people waiting to cross.


Deborah Hersman, president of the National Safety Council, says, "The most important things parents can teach teens are how to develop hazard recognition and judgment -- making the left turns into oncoming traffic, how to merge on and off highways at high speed."

Other successful tactics gleaned from the article include:
 
--Take your teen into gradually more challenging and varied roads, at night and in bad weather. 

--Teach the young driver never to glance away from the road for more than two seconds.

--Require them to silence cell phones and keep stored away while driving.

--While accompanying your teen in the car, parents need to stay calm and avoid being overly critical.  Don't bring up touchy issue (like poor grades, or a significant other issue).

--Be specific and sensitive in any constructive criticism.

--Stay calm.  Try to not panic and stomp on the imaginary brakes if you think they're going too fast.

According to a 2011 study of 257,000 accidents by Robert Foss, of the Highway Safety Research Center, teens still make mistakes for their first few months of solo driving, then, as the learning sets in, the potential for accidents does start quickly tapering off. 

So, if you follow these tips and do a little praying while your teen starts driving solo for the first few months, you should be able to rest a little easier after that.

I have access to an excellent, free, teen driving video that Farmers created.  Let me know if you're interested in having your teen watch it.

David Yates – Farmers Insurance
1881 General George Patton Dr., Suite 103
Franklin, TN 37067
Phone 615-778-1816  Fax 615-778-1817
dyates1@farmersagent.com