Category: Consumer protection


What’s most likely to kill you? Check out your odds for National Safety Month

It’s National Safety Month, which is a great time double down on safety both at work and at home. But where to start? One way to think about safety practices and injury prevention is to focus on the types of injuries that are most common and most likely. With the summer approaching, expect that any day now we will start seeing alarming stories about shark danger. While no one wants to get attacked by a shark and it’s certainly good to take precautions, in reality, there’s a greater chance you will die by choking on your lobster roll than by being eaten by a shark. Media attention to sensational stories about crime, disasters and unusual tragedies tend to distort our sense of what the real risks we face actually are.

The National Safety Council puts things in perspective in this short video:

The purpose of insurance is to offer you financial protection from accidental risks and calamities that may befall you. But even when you are properly insured, it’s still in your best interests to try to manage those risks as best you can because insurance may not make you whole – particularly when the risk involves life and limb. We often don’t do a good job of managing our risks. Sometimes, what we fear the most is actually less risky than other common every day occurrences. Human nature being what it is, people often worry more about rare events and can be too casual about dangers that are more pervasive.

Learn the top causes of unintentional injury and death in your homes and communities from the National Safety Council, or see this chart and learn more on Mortality and Risk from the Insurance Information Institute.

Plus, check out one of our most popular past posts: What are the odds? Mortality calculators, where we various tools and calculators that let you assess your mortality. Don’t miss one of the web’s longtime favorite sites, the Internet Death Clock, where you can calculate optimistic or pessimistic estimates of how much time you are likely to live.

Despite the odds, one sad fact remains: None of us get out of here alive, so as the late Warren Zevon advised, “Enjoy every sandwich.” And as long as you are thinking about odds, it might also be a good time to think about taking care of your survivors:

Life Insurance Survey: Most people have too little.

A few other past posts on the topic of risks and dangers

 

Reprinted from Renaissance Alliance – no usage without permission.

Hurricane Season 2019: What’s shaping up

The 2019 Hurricane Season began on June 1 and runs through November 30. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, predicts a 40% chance of a  “near normal” hurricane season. There’s a 30% chance that the season could be worse, and a 30% chance that it could be better than the average season.

For 2019, NOAA predicts a likely range of 9 to 15 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 4 to 8 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes.

But don’t let the “near normal” prediction lull you into a false sense of security – hurricane preparation is still urgent, particularly for those who live in the southeast and in Atlantic coastal areas. According to a recent Storm Surge Report by CoreLogic, the Atlantic hurricane season puts 7.3 million homes at risk with an estimated reconstruction cost of $1.8 trillion.

“Florida stands out as the most vulnerable state, with more than three times more homes at risk (2,913,886) than second-ranked Louisiana (827,032). Florida also stands out in terms of potential damage, with at-risk structures having an estimated reconstruction cost of $604 billion — a third of the total for all 19 Gulf Coast and Atlantic Coast states.

Narrowing down to metropolitan areas, Miami, New York City, Tampa, New Orleans and Virginia Beach, Virginia hold the greatest risks. In the New York City metro area, which includes Philadelphia and much of New Jersey, 831,000 homes with estimated replacement costs of $330 billion stand in harm’s way. In the Miami metropolitan area, which includes West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, 827,000 homes are at risk with an estimated replacement cost of $166 billion.”

Florida hurricane prep underway – get tax-free hurricane supplies through June 6!

Florida doesn’t take hurricanes lightly. The Orlando Sentinel posts thoughts from the region and talks about past storms in their news report,  Welcome to hurricane season 2019.

Floridians should act quickly for a discount on some hurricane supplies. Through June 6, certain hurricane supplies can be purchased tax-free during Florida sales tax holiday. Learn more from the Florida Department of Revenue’s Tax Information Publication:   Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday – May 31 through June 6, 2019

Hurricane Prep resources

 

Reprinted from Renaissance Alliance – no usage without permission.

Motorcycle Mania: Your spring guide to insurance, safety, training, laws and more

Despite the good news that motorcycle fatalities are trending down in recent years, motorcycle riders still represent a disproportionate share of traffic fatalities. May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, a good time for riders and those who share the road with motorcyclists to double down on safety as we all get ready for the warmer weather and summer road trips. Here’s a guide to important information that you need to be prepared and to ride safely, as well as to comply with licensing, insurance and other legal requirements. .

Motorcycle Laws

If you operate your motorcycle on public roads, you must register it with your appropriate state authority and must be licensed to drive it.

AAA Digest of State Motor Laws – Motorcycles

State-by-State Guide to Motorcycle Laws – helmets, headlights, passengers, noise restrictions and more

III: State Motorcycle Helmet Use Laws (chart form)

State Highway Offices

Motorcycle insurance

Most states require that you carry at least a minimum insurance coverage – Florida, Montana and Washington are exceptions. Those states that do require insurance vary as to coverage requirements; most require a minimum of liability insurance to cover bodily injury and property damage.

Whether required or not, we think it’s pretty risky to go without coverage. Should an accident occur resulting in an injury or property damage, without insurance, you are on the hook. In fact, it is generally worth looking into expanding your coverage beyond the minimum. Options to consider are comprehensive and collision, which would cover other potential losses, such as replacement if your bike were stolen or damaged.. In some states, uninsured/under-insured motorist coverage is required; in others, you may be required to have specific coverage for passengers.

Motorcycle owners sometimes ask if they can cancel insurance in the winter when they aren’t riding but that can be risky and leave you exposed if the bike is stolen. Some insurers offer winter lay-up insurance options.

Talk to your independent insurance agent, who will be able to recommend the best coverage for your local requirements and your particular circumstances. Be sure to ask if there are any discounts that you may qualify for, such as for bundling multiple policies, for being a safe driver, for having participated in training, or any other circumstances.

For more, see the Insurance Information Institute (III): Find the right coverage for your bike

Motorcycle Safety

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is a valuable resource. It is a not-for-profit resource, internationally recognized for comprehensive, research-based, Rider Education and Training System (RETS), which promotes lifelong-learning for motorcyclists and continuous professional development for certified coaches and trainers. MSF also actively participates in government relations, safety research and public awareness campaigns.

Check for available trainings and download their popular guide, You and Your Motorcycle: Riding Tips. Check out their other guides for three-wheelers, scooters, off-highway riding and more.

III: Background on: Motorcycle crashes

NHTSA: Motorcycle Safety

Choose the right helmet – how to find the right fit for safety

Helmet safety ratings – Make sure your helmet has the DOT symbol on the outside back; this means it meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 218.

Motorcycle Industry Council Tire Guide

NHTSA: Safety Issues and Recalls – search by VIN

Additional Resources

How to Prepare your Motorcycle for Spring

Consumer Reports: Motorcycle Buying Guide & Ratings

Motorcycle Club Listings

Reprinted from Renaissance Alliance – no usage without permission.

Boat Safety Week in two words: Wear It!

It’s National Safe Boating Week May 18-24, a good reminder to all boat owners and boat lovers to review boat safety best practices and to take the “Wear It” Life Jacket Pledge. And if your boat represents a serious investment, it’s also a good time to think about insurance.

Why are life jackets important? In 2017, the Coast Guard counted 4,291 accidents that involved 658 deaths, 2,629 injuries and approximately $46 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.

Life jackets may not protect you against property damage, but they will help to save lives. But simply having life jackets on board is not enough – accidents happen too fast to access them. Being a good swimmer isn’t enough – an injury or water-logged clothes can interfere with even the strongest swimmer’s abilities. Another big objection is that jackets are too hot, too restrictive, or don’t look “cool,” but new, lightweight jackets are slimmer, cooler and less restrictive. Plus, as for the coolness factor – bicycle helmets didn’t look cool at one time, until they became a sporting fashion statement. Do your part to make life jackets cool.

The U.S. Coast Guard life jacket requirements for recreational vessels:

  • A wearable life jacket for each person must be aboard
  • Life jackets must be U. S. Coast Guard approved
  • Jackets must be proper size for the intended wearer
  • In good and serviceable condition
  • Properly stowed (readily accessible)

The Coast Guard puts out a brochure that talks about the different types of life jackets and how to ensure a good fit.

Before you take put any boats int he water, make sure you know the federal laws as well as any state laws that might apply. The US Coast Guard offers links and resources on boat regulations and laws, including federal and state laws, navigation rules, and more.

Talk to your independent agent about Boating Insurance

Do you need boat insurance? Your homeowners or renters insurance may cover canoes and small sailboats or powerboats, but larger boats require a separate policy. Talk to your independent agent about the coverage you do have and whether it applies to any boats that you have. Typically, liability coverage would need to be added as an endorsement to a homeowners policy. The Insurance Information Institute offers a good overview of boat and watercraft insurance, as well as safety best practices.

 

Reprinted from Renaissance Alliance – no usage without permission.

Imposter scams top the FTC fraud list for 2018

Hand Holding Megaphone With Speech Bubble SCAM. Announcement. Vector illustration

In 2018, people reported losses of nearly $1.48 billion in fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC.) That was a $406 million over what consumers reported losing in 2017. One in every 4 people who report fraud to the FTC suffer some monetary losses.

The FTC, which monitors fraud through its Consumer Sentinel Network, has collected tens of millions of consumer reports about fraud, identity theft, and other consumer protection topics over more than 20 years. In a recently issued report, The 2018 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book (FTC), the FTC summarizes nearly 3 million consumer reports. Reports encompass both those in which money was lost, as well as those in which mo money was lost.

They sort consumer reports into 29 top fraud categories, and of those categories, in 2018, the three that topped the list of reports were:

  • Imposter Scams -18%
  • Debt collection – 16%
  • Identity theft – 15%

chart- top 10 fraud categories

Related: Imposter scams top the list of 2018 consumer fraud complaints and Fraud alert: This is (not) the government calling.

Some other key fraud report findings include:

  • Telephone was the method of contact for 69% of fraud reports with a contact method identified
  • Wire transfers continue to be the most frequently reported payment method for fraud
  • Those aged 20-29 reported losing money to fraud in 43% of reports, while people aged 70 – 79 reported losing money in 15% of their reports.
  • People aged 70 and older reported much higher median losses than any other age group.
  • States with the highest per capita rates of reported fraud in 2018 were Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Delaware, and Maryland.
  • States with the highest reports of identity theft were Georgia, Nevada,California, Florida, and Texas

You can search the full report to find a breakdown of information on fraud by state – here are more highlights.

consumer fraud infographic

Reprinted from Renaissance Alliance – no usage without permission.

Know the signs: Stroke can happen at any age

May is American Stroke Month. The recent deaths of beloved filmmaker John Singleton, aged 51 and actor Luke Perry, aged 52, serve as a sad reminder of why awareness of stroke warning signs is so vital. It’s also important to have a response plan for what to do if a stroke is suspected.

Generally, we tend to think of stroke as a medical condition affecting the elderly – and while stroke risk does increase in older years, the reality is that people of any age can suffer a stroke. In fact, health authorities say that the stroke risk for younger people is climbing.

“The deaths of Perry and Singleton underscore the fact that strokes are becoming more common among middle-aged adults. Between 2003 and 2012, the odds of being admitted to a hospital following an ischemic stroke — the most common type of stroke — increased 35.6% among U.S. residents ages 35 to 44. For those 45 to 54, the odds increased 20.5% over the same period, according to a 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.”

It’s important to learn stroke symptoms and act immediately, because with rapid treatment, stroke damage can be limited and the person can have a better chance of recovery. Experts say to think FAST: Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Slurred speech, and Take action, time is vital. The symptoms are ones that we might identify as a stroke in the elderly, but we might not be looking for such symptoms in people who are young or middle-aged. In younger people, these and other common stroke symptoms might be misattributed to intoxication or drug use.

Limit your risk

Here’s some good news: an estimated 80% of strokes in the US are considered preventable. There are two primary types of risk factors for stroke:

  • Uncontrollable factors, such as age, gender, race and ethnicity, family history, a prior stroke and certain health conditions.
  • Modifiable factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, a diet high in saturated fats, physical inactivity and obesity.

Learn more about stroke risk factors that are controllable and steps you can take to control them. See also: 7 things you can do to prevent a stroke.

This video depicts an elderly person who is having stroke symptoms and what happens afterwards. It’s well done. Save a life by having a better understanding of stroke and by knowing what signs and symptoms to look for.

Reprinted from Renaissance Alliance – no usage without permission.

Get your ride on: May is National Bike Month

Haul the bike out of the cellar or the garage because May is National Bike Month, sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities from coast to coast. National Bike to Work Week 2019 will take place May 13–19. Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 17.

Biking is a great way to experience the outdoors and to get good exercise. It’s also a much more economical and earth-friendly form of transpiration than cars. Whatever your reason for biking, there are a few important steps to take to make sure you are safe on the road.

Finally, don’t forget to protect your investment! Bicycle theft may be covered by your homeowners or renters insurance but there is ordinarily a rather high deductible. If your bike is particularly valuable, you may want to speak with your independent insurance agent about a floater policy to keep it covered at all times.See our prior post which includes a video bicycle insure quiz and link to more information on insuring your bike from the Insurance Information Institute.  In addition to a discussion about insurance, they suggest marking your bike, writing the serial number down and taking several photos of it to help police in identification. They also recommend registering your bike with local police and the National Bike Registry.

Year-Round Bicycle Maintenance

Spring Tune Up - Bicycle Maintenance
Source: Fix.com Blog

Quick Fixes - Bicycle Maintenance
Source: Fix.com Blog

Reprinted from Renaissance Alliance – no usage without permission.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day: April 27

Do you have expired or unused prescription medicines sitting around in your kitchen or bathroom cabinets? Now you have a safe and anonymous way to dispose of them: National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on April 27.

According to the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), unused or expired prescription drug medications are a public safety issue, leading to potential accidental poisonings, misuse and overdose. Too often, unused prescription drugs find their way into the wrong hands. That’s dangerous and often tragic. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. That’s why it was great to see thousands of folks from across the country clean out their medicine cabinets and turn in – safely and anonymously – a record amount of prescription drugs. During the last Take Back Day in October 2018, more than 457 tons of medications were turned in at more than 5000 collection sites nationwide for proper disposal.

Proper disposal of unused drugs saves lives and saves the environment!

Use the Collection Site Locator – enter your zip code to find a site near you.

If you or someone you love needs help for a prescription drug problem, find treatment using the treatment services locator.

The DEA offers tips for disposal if no disposal instructions are given on the prescription drug label and no prescription drug take-back program is available in your area:

  • You must not share your prescription drugs – they were prescribed to you.
  • Remove the medicine from its original container and mix it with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter.
  • Place the mixture in a sealable bag, empty bag, or other container to prevent medicine from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag.
  • Scratch out all identifying information on the prescription label to make it unreadable to protect your identity and the privacy of your personal health information.
  • Do not flush medicines down the sink or toilet unless the prescription drug labeling specifically instructs you to do so, and check with your community’s laws and regulations prior to taking such action.

See more in this PDF tip sheet: How to properly dispose of your unused medicines

Reprinted from Renaissance Alliance – no usage without permission.

Car thieves are just driving away with our cars for the darndest reason!

We’ve all misplaced our car keys at one point or another, but are people getting more forgetful?

That would appear to be the case if we review the recent report that the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) issued on car thefts. Thieves are driving away with our cars because we are making it too easy for them by leaving our keys and fobs right in the vehicles!

While car thefts in general are on a downward trend, the numbers of cars stolen due to keys in the car are on the rise. And it’s not just a slight uptick – there’s been a 56% increase since 2015 and an 88% increase since 2013!  Every single day last year, an average of more than 200 cars were stolen due to keys in the car. You can learn more in the NICB press release on thefts of vehicles with keys, along with the short video and infographic, below.

Sometimes the keys or fobs left in the car are not due to forgetfulness – thefts spike in the winter when there are more cars being warmed up in cold weather. Beyond that, NICB doesn’t speculate as to why. It may be because they are quieter. We previously talked about how quieter, keyless cars are related to an increase in carbon monoxide deaths. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess: Too much trust in anti-theft and theft-recovery systems? An aging population of drivers? Distracted by our phones as we are powering off our cars? Hard to know.

To prevent this happening, NICB advises drivers to:

  • Lock the vehicle, set the alarm and take all keys or FOBS.
  • Do not leave the garage door opener in the vehicle.
  • Take a picture of your registration on your cell phone and do not leave the registration or other papers with personal information in the vehicle.
  • Never leave a car unlocked and running to warm it up or while stopping for a quick cup of coffee. It only takes a moment for the opportunistic thief to jump inside and drive off.

Reprinted from Renaissance Alliance – no usage without permission.

Thinking of a side hustle? Check with your insurance agent

Today, it seems like everybody’s got a side hustle, which is essentially just a fancy rebranding of what used to be called moonlighting. But today’s moonlighting often comes with a twist …. these gigs often involve using your personal car or home to generate extra income. Whether it’s driving for Lyft, dropping off packages for Amazon, delivering meals through DoorDash, renting your home through Airbnb or just taking advantage of a tourist influx during a big local event by renting out your home, five words of advice: check with your insurance agent.

If your goal is earning some extra cash, make sure you understand and are covered for potential risks. You might think you are covered by working for a third-party service, but if you injure yourself or someone else while working, if you damage or lose someone’s property or if you suffer a loss to your own property, you may be on your own. Here are just two examples:

Home rental – If you want to start renting out all or a portion of your home through a peer-to-peer rental service, what happens if a guest is injured on your property? Or if a guest burns the whole place down in a cooking fire, will your rental service cover your home replacement?

Some services, such as Airbnb and VRBO, offer programs such as host guarantees or host liability insurance. On first glance, these may look adequate – $1 million liability coverage should be enough, right? But like most things, you need to read the fine print because there are conditions, limitations and exclusions that could leave you exposed to serious loss. You also should not assume that your own homeowners policy will provide coverage in a home rental scenario. Insurance Information Institute says:

Standard homeowners and renters insurance policies are designed for personal risks, not commercial risks. Some insurers now offer a home-sharing liability insurance policy that can be purchased on a month-to-month basis, but there may be exclusions and limitations, so read the policy carefully. If you plan to rent out all or part of your home on a regular basis, many companies will consider this a business use and you may need to purchase a business policy—specifically either a hotel or a bed-and-breakfast policy.

Ridesharing – Check with the service you are contracting with about any coverage that they might offer – states are increasingly mandating that third-party services provide some coverage, but again – there could be conditions, limitations and exclusions that leave dangerous gaps in your coverage. And it’s a mistake to assume that your own personal auto insurance will cover you. Insurance Information Institute says:

Generally a standard personal auto policy will not provide coverage for ride-sharing. A standard personal auto insurance policy stops providing coverage from the moment a driver logs into a TNC ride-sharing app to the moment the customer has exited the car and the transaction is closed.

They also advise:

Prospective drivers should ask the TNC what level of coverage it provides. Drivers should also contact their own auto insurer to address gaps, if any, in their liability protection. It is also recommended that TNC drivers review a copy of their TNC’s insurance contracts so they know the exact terms and conditions of the coverage.

Learn more: Ride-sharing and insurance: Q&A

These are just two common examples of so-called side-hustles, but other income-generating activities might call for other types of coverage, such as product liability or home business coverage. Your agent can also help you assess the adequacy of coverage offered by a third-party.  If you are considering a side-hustle, give your independent insurance agent a call to talk things over.

Reprinted from Renaissance Alliance – no usage without permission.

460 East Main Road
Middletown, Rhode Island 02842

Phone: 401-619-1660
Toll Free: 866-284-5924
Fax: 401-619-2689

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