It’s the Apocalypse, wait its just Snow.

Sitting here today as Oklahoma weather shows it’s ugly face, and everyone preps as if the zombie apocalypse is about to occur, you know rushing to the grocery store fighting over bread and milk.  Nevertheless I thought since everyone else was stocking their cabinets with food and supplies I would prep you all with some winter driving tips!

RCI Snowy Vehicle

Winter Weather Driving Tips from The Weather Channel:

1. Make sure both you and your vehicle are properly equipped to handle the roads and the weather. My husband laughs at me because when the weather rolls around I put snacks & blankets in my car. I don’t want to starve or freeze to death! I think the amusing part here is that we do not live in Montana where you go MILES without seeing anything or anyone. Bottom line here, dress accordingly and be prepared for anything.

2. Slow down & drive smoothly. Speeding to get out of the weather is not going to help anyone. Patience is a virtue (I am not saying I have much of one myself), but driving slower and being more cautious is going to be your saving grace.  Keep your lane changes to a minimum, and do not lay on your brakes.

3. Do Not Tailgate. Obvious as it may be tailgating provides a ton of accidents and claims.  I also know that driving on a busy road makes tailgating hard to avoid.  If you leave too much space between you and the car in front of you other drivers jump right in. Stop and go traffic is the worst. A fender bender in the freezing rain and snow is not the way you want to spend your time. These fender benders are so frequent when roads wet or icy some cities run programs like Tulsa’s “Operation Slick Streets” which means that officers will not respond to non-injury accidents. They suggest you exchange insurance information and if you are close to a Quick Trip you can pick up a collision report to fill out.

4. Do Not use Cruise Control. Hopefully this will keep your speed down as well as keep you more aware of your surroundings.

5. Pull over or stay home. Of course if you are able to stay home and out of the weather that would be your best bet. If you do have to get out then remember that there is no shame in pulling over or waiting till the weather lightens up before heading on your way.

http://www.weather.com/life/safety/autosafety/article/five-winter-driving-tips_2011-10-30

While working on this I have read on cityoftulsa.org that Tulsa has in fact enacted the “Operation Slick Streets” this means it is getting rough out there. Hopefully everyone has their milk and eggs because as of this morning there was not a lot left. Everyone remember these driving tips and be safe as you head home!

Remember 2:00 AM on Sunday, November 3

Remember 2:00 AM on Sunday, November 3

Daylight Savings Time Ends

Yes, it is that time of year again, time to change those clocks. Did you know that daylight saving time started in 1918 in the United States? It was an idea brought to the attention of Benjamin Franklin who believed “early to bed and early to rise” according to David Prerau, author of the book Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time. There are mixed feelings for many Americans about the usefulness of Daylight Saving Time, how do you feel about it? Give us your thoughts in the comment section below.

 

Also: It is a good idea, while changing your clocks that you also check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. Checking these devices at both time changes will ensure that they are working properly and will be ready in the case of an emergency.

Fall Back

Shredding Event Huge Success! Thank You Rogers County!

Check Out Your Local Value News

Check Out Your Local Value News

Shred Day 2013
Our RCI Insurance Group Shredding Event this past Saturday was a huge success! Thank you Rogers County! Here are some hints to further protect your identity.
1. Never click on email coming from the IRS. They WILL NOT email you.
2. Make sure all financial services documents mask SS#s whenever possible.
3. Sign up for credit bureau monitoring from each of the 3 credit aencies.
4. Never ignore an IRS notice. Such correspondence often indicates unauthorized use of your identity and account.
5. Always store Social Security cards in a safe location.
6. Never discard documents with SSNs without shredding
7. Resist company requests to provide SSNs unless totally necessary
8. Store sensitive documents in a locked file or safe
9. Use firewalls and anti-spam/virus software

Warnings for Flood Damaged Vehicles

As Storm Sandy makes its way across the Midwest states, I’m in awe of the devastation left in its wake. This storm has left many East coast states buried in several feet of water. It’s crazy how much water came from that storm alone.  The pictures show buildings with severe flooding and too many vehicles almost completely covered in water.

People with water damaged vehicles will begin trying to sell their vehicles. If you’re going to be buying a new car or potentially buying a new vehicle, please be sure to check vehicle for water damage. It’s more than just spotting a waterline. According to an article for MSN Autos, Jim Jacobson, a 30-year veteran of the car sales business and owner of Jacobson Auto Sales, “…Instead of declaring the car totaled by flooding, the insurance companies just paid to have it cleaned out, or the owner never made a claim. But if there’s been floodwater inside the car, it’s almost certain that there will be problems down the road, from corrosion on electrical connections and ABS and airbag sensors to failed transmissions. Or it will just smell bad.”

If a vehicle has been totaled for flood damage, there is a marked title given to that vehicle. Most insurance companies will be very hesitant, if not totally against, writing an Auto Insurance Policy for a marked titled vehicle. At RCI Insurance, most of our companies will not want to write an Oklahoma Auto Policy for vehicles that have either a salvaged title or a flood damaged vehicle. However, people have found that if they move their vehicle from state to state and retitle their car in several different states, the marked title gets removed and a new title is given to the vehicle (also depends on the state’s laws about titling a vehicle and marked titles).

Since you can’t always trust the title of the vehicle to be truthful, here are a few ways to check and see if a vehicle has had water damage. If it has, walk away and don’t purchase it. Many experts say there will almost ways be problems later on with a vehicle that has had water damage. Even if you’re buying from a Car Dealership or a private owner, check these areas in the car.

  1. Buy a title history. The Justice Department database has made these reports a little easier to read. You still want to look them over carefully, especially if the vehicle has been titled in other states.
  2. When you sit inside the car, smell it. Does it smell moldy or rusty or musty? Sniff the upholstery. The only way a moldy smelly can be taken completely out of upholstery is if the cleaners use bleach. Since bleach can’t be used on the upholstery without damaging it, chances are if there’s been water damage, you’ll smell it.
  3. Most auto carpet has plastic backing. Check it out. If it’s damp, smells wet, or muddy, or even has an odd odor chances are it’s had water damage.
  4. Check the bolts of the seats, if they’re rusty or loosened that could be a sign of flood damage. The seats have to be removed for the carpet to be cleaned.
  5. Look for a scum line or silt in out-of-the-way locations. Be sure to check the glove box and under the dashboard. These areas can be easily overlooked when the car is being detailed. And be sure to check the trunk as well. Look for waterlines, moisture, check under the spare tire, and the floor mat. You want to find any signs of flooding.
  6. Check out the turn signals and headlights. These are expensive to replace and many times aren’t when there’s been flooding. See if there is any mud, silt, or water in the lights.
  7. Look for rust or corrosion. If you can’t or don’t know how, have the vehicle inspected by a mechanic. You want to know if there is any rust on the chassis and suspension.

These are just a few suggestions when car shopping after flooding has taken place recently. Remember that some dealerships are obligated by law to inform potential buyers of a flooded or salvaged vehicle. You can’t guarantee that they will tell you everything about the car. So be prepared and find out everything you can about a vehicle before you buy it.

 

If you’d like to read more information about this, visit the website, MSN Autos, here.

 

Oklahoma Business Coverage: Claims Made or Occurrence?

What is the difference between “Claims Made” vs. “Occurrence” policy?

Commercial or Business Insurance are usually offered in two forms. One is a Claims Made Policy and the other is an Occurrence Policy. There are some large differences in the two that every Oklahoma business owner should be aware.

For example, if you are contractor and build a wall, chances are that wall will exist long after you have retired from your business. A number of years later, the wall allows water in and causes damage. Upon inspection, your work is found negligent. How does your Oklahoma Business Insurance handle a claim from so long ago?

It depends on the types of coverage you chose and whether the policies were “Claims Made” or “Occurrence” policies.

Claims Made Coverage provides coverage only so long as the insured continues to pay premiums for the initial policy and any subsequent renewals. Once premiums stop, the coverage stops for any claims not known or made to the insurance company during the coverage period.

Occurrence Coverage is insurance that provides coverage for the act when it occurs – regardless of when it is reported. If you had coverage under an occurrence policy in 2000 and the claim is reported today (they just found the defect in the wall, like the story above, for example) then the claim is covered.

In my opinion, Occurrence Coverage is the better choice to keep your business protected without any gaps.

Ah, the bill, the part that everyone hates!

At our office in Oklahoma, we’ve been going through some training on the different companies that we represent here at RCI Insurance. For our clients that have policies for themselves personally, we usually have a different company selection than the companies we offer to our clients that have their commercial insurance with us. To start our training, we’ve picked one company to review. Even though we have several companies that we sell insurance for, sometimes they require different information or their company procedures are slightly different from another company’s guidelines and rules.  Thus we decided to review our most used companies one at a time and make sure we are all aware of what that company offers and what guidelines we must follow. This week, we’ve been going over a company that we write Oklahoma Auto, Home, Boat, and Umbrella policies.

What we went over today concerned our clients and billing. Ah, the bill, the part everyone hates! However, companies now days are making it so much easier for clients to pay their insurance bill. These were a great refresher as well as a learning experience too.  Did you know that your insurance company will usually have multiple options for you to pay your insurance premium?

 

  • Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)
    • Monthly – Each month you can set up your payment to come directly out of your checking account. You don’t have to mail in a payment (it’s a hassle sometimes to get stamps!). Plus the fees for your monthly payment are typically a little less with direct payments.
    • Lump– Instead of making your payment each month, you set up your premium to be paid in full at renewal.  Again, it would come directly out of your checking account and there wouldn’t be any forgetting that your insurance is due, it would be automatically drafted.  When paid in full, there are no payment fees attached to your total premium.

 

  • Recurring Credit Card (RCC)
    • Monthly – Similar to an EFT monthly payment, but instead of coming out of your checking account, you can set your payment to be charged to your credit card. One more way to rack up some mileage points!
    • Lump – This option is just like the EFT only it’s your credit card instead of your checking account.  Again, this way you avoid any additional fees.

 

  • Insured Pay
    • Lump – The company will mail you a bill. When you’re on the lump payment plan, you are expected to pay the premium in full. With this option, you can mail in a check or money order, call the company’s billing department directly and make a payment over the phone, or write your checking account or credit card information on the billing slip and mail in your payment. Once again, with this pay in full option, you avoid the most fees.
    • Monthly – Each month the company will mail you an installment notice. But this option comes with the most fees added to each payment. Those fees after a while can really increase your premium. However, sometimes this is the only option that may work for you.

 

  • E-Service
    • Sometimes it’s just not going to work to get to the post office to buy stamps. Instead you go see your agent at their office and they go to the company’s website and submit your payment information on-line.  You would have to have a credit card or checking account in order to use this option.  Plus, there may still be some fees applied to your monthly payment. However, with the paid in full, chances are there would not be a fee.

 

  • Mortgage Bill
    • This option is for the Homeowner’s Insurance policy only.  Each year your mortgage company can mail the company a check from your escrow account. This way you don’t have to worry about the hassle of remembering your insurance payment and usually the money for your insurance is included in your house payment.

 

  • Account Linking
    • This option allows you to combine the bills for your Auto, Home, Boat, and Umbrella Insurance IF all your policies are with the same company.  This is a fast and convenient way to pay all your insurance with one payment instead of multiple payments.

 

Talk about lots of options. When setting up your insurance policies, find out what option works best for you and your family.  What works for one person, may not work for another person.  Just make sure you don’t forget to pay your insurance! To get a policy back enforce could end up getting you where it hurts the most, your wallet.

Are You Sure You Have the Right Oklahoma Auto Insurance?

Amber Helmuth

Many people opt for a basic coverage plan rather than choosing individualized insurance that could save them a lot of grief and expense.

Some might find it interesting that the phrase “one size fits all” has become so commonplace in our marketplace, since there is rarely any truth to it. Whether one is talking about shoes or clothing or cars or homes, most people have their own unique needs and preferences to consider when making purchases that will affect their everyday lives and comfort.

Insurance is no different. Many companies might present insurance within a series of easy choices, available with a few clicks of a button and an online payment. But Mick Cottom of RCI Insurance in Claremore warns about the pitfalls of making a hasty decision when buying insurance. “Trying to compare apples to apples will get you smashed when you hit the road,” he says. “You want coverage that protects your personal situation.”

Cottom uses this example to illustrate his point: A man has purchased the most basic coverage, 25-50-25,on his vehicle. This means that the coverage caps at $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 for the entire accident, and $25,000 for property damage. One day, he collides with a Mercedes Benz, driven by a doctor who is transporting his wife and two children. Not only are two people in the other vehicle killed, but the man himself is badly injured and is in the hospital for six months. “Will that 25-50-25 insurance cover the devastating costs of this accident?” Cottom asks. “Who will pay the man’s salary while he is off work?”

Protection against the worst that could happen is the reason for procuring insurance in the first place, but ironically people often don’t consider the very worst that can happen when they actually make the purchase. “We all think we are invincible,” Cottom states. “A lot of consumers are uninformed when it comes to insurance and will gravitate toward the lowest price.”

Basing a decision on the lowest price, however, will often leave huge holes in the safety net that  insurance was designed to provide. That’s why Cottom encourages current and potential clients to call or visit Amber Helmuth, personal lines risk manager at RCI Insurance, to review and discuss an individualized plan. Amber specializes in personal service, helping to set RCI Insurance apart from the “one size fits all” discount companies whose one-on-one service ends once the policy has been sold.

“Sometimes we actually can provide a person a great deal more insurance for the same price they were paying just through these discussions,” Cottom adds. He cites the example of a local businessman whose assets were worth around $2.5 million, but who was only carrying the basic 25-50-25 insurance. After discussion and review, RCI Insurance was able to provide the man over 10 times the coverage of his previous plan, combine his auto, home and other insurance policies, plus add a $1 million umbrella over all his assets – for about the same price he’d been paying for the basic insurance.

How much insurance do you need? The only way to know for sure is to talk it over with an agent such as Amber Helmuth. “Come sit down or have a meaningful conversation over the phone,” Cottom says. “In order to maximize discounts, we will review your whole situation, give you total protection, and bring you into our circle of safety.”

This article was written by Lorrie Ward of the Value News for Rogers County.