Love Bites—Get Umbrella Coverage

In today’s economy, everyone is pinching pennies. So why worry about umbrella coverage? Shouldn’t a home and auto policy leave you adequately covered?

Unfortunately, we live in a world of lawsuits. Large damages can be awarded, be extremely expensive and have long-term financial impact. Those lawsuits can come from unlikely sources, such as our furry friends.

Take Herschel for instance. Herschel is a much-loved, rather timid labradoodle who enjoys taking naps on the driveway while his owner mows the lawn.

Herschel watched from eight feet away as his neighbor, a 39 year old man, showed off his rollerblading skills to his kids. The man wiped out on the sidewalk in front of Herschel’s house and broke his leg. He required surgery, costing around $35,000 in medical costs and $18,000 in lost wages.

Fair or not, the man brought a lawsuit against Herschel’s owner, suing for $220,000 in damages. He alleged that Herschel had caused the accident by getting in his way, despite multiple witnesses to the contrary.

But Herschel’s owner was lucky–a jury vindicated Herschel. However, lawsuits such as these can easily exceed the limits on a homeowner’s policy, leaving the insured responsible for the remainder. An umbrella policy would prevent that, giving you an extra $1 million to $5 million in coverage.

Our furry friends can put your assets at risk in other ways as well.   According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year, with half of those occurring on the owner’s property. Dog bites, according to the Insurance Information Institute, account for about a third of all homeowner’s insurance claims, which only cover limited damages.

Protect what you love. Call us at 330-940-2288 to talk about your umbrella options.img_1380

I’m borrowing my friend’s car … am I covered?

Most people have an idea of what’s covered and not covered under their various insurance policies. But at Advantage Insurance Agency, we get a lot of questions about borrowing or loaning a car.

Now that summer is here, and you might be looking to borrow your neighbor’s truck for a home-improvement project or a trip to the local landfill, we thought it was a great time to provide a little more information.

Generally, insurance coverage follows the vehicle rather than the driver. So in most instances, as long as the owner of the car has insurance, it’s covered even if someone other than the owner is driving it — as long as they have the owner’s permission.

The borrower’s insurance is considered secondary, meaning that in the event of an accident, it could apply if the owner’s insurance is insufficient to fully cover the damage.

It’s important to note that there are some exceptions to what is called “permissive use” coverage. For example, permission must be given by the owner, unless the borrower has a reasonable belief that they are allowed to use the car. However, the borrower cannot give permission to someone else. So if your teenager allows one of his or her friends to drive your car to Indians Game, your coverage likely won’t apply.

Coverage might also be denied if the borrower operates the vehicle in a negligent or criminal manner. And if the borrower is using your car for business purposes, your personal auto policy likely won’t cover that.

If you have a regular long-term arrangement to either borrow or lend a car, the borrower should probably be added to the owner’s personal auto policy. Those who don’t own a car, but often borrow one, might also consider “named non-owner coverage,” an endorsement that provides bodily injury and property damage liability, uninsured motorists coverage and more.

Ultimately, it’s usually safe to loan your friend your car for occasional errands or projects. And the same goes for borrowing a car. Just make sure it’s for “normal” use. You’ll want to confirm that the car has coverage and that your insurance, whether you’re the owner or borrower, will apply.

Feel free to give us a call at 330-940-2288 if you have any questions — after all, you don’t want to wait until after an accident to get answers!loan-car

Home Security is Easier — and Better — Than Ever

Think home security in Northeast Ohio is still about bulky camera equipment and wires running all throughout your home? Think again.

Today, things have changed quite a bit, and the playing field has been leveled. Advanced tools and security systems are more accessible and affordable than ever. (And installing them might get you a discount on your homeowners insurance, too.)

Full-service systems are still a popular option with many people. Companies offer central monitoring, video surveillance, smoke/carbon monoxide detection and more. Some even include home automation tools so you can control appliances from anywhere, and many will send text-message alerts in response to specific occurrences, such as when the kids enter the house after school.

Do-it-yourselfers who don’t want an all-in-one system have many choices as well. Here art three of the newest and most popular security tools:

  1. Smart (and small) cameras

Cameras today can be tucked anywhere and don’t require wires. With a good battery and wi-fi connection, you can see what’s happening outside — or inside — with a glance at your phone or computer.

  1. Key-free doors

Say you have a friend stopping by to check on your dog while you’re gone for the day. You don’t have to risk leaving a key outside. With a code-based entry system, you can simply provide your friend with temporary access that turns on and off when you want.

  1. Home automation products

It’s easier than you think to give yourself remote access to the lights and appliances in your home. At least one available product can be used with your existing power outlets; simply plug it in and control the power to that outlet from an app on your smartphone. Don’t ever worry about forgetting to leave a light on again.

Of course, even “old-school” tools, such as motion-activated outdoor lights, can still have a big impact on security. So whether you choose high-tech tools or stick to the basics, you’ll be making your home here in Northeast Ohio a less attractive target for burglars.home-security-systems-2

5 Ways to Avoid Parking Lot Fender Benders in Northeast Ohio

Parking lots in Northeast Ohio – we love the convenience but hate the frustrations, especially when people are driving too fast, backing out of spots without looking and otherwise modeling bad parking lot behavior.

That behavior just so happens to be the cause of many a door ding and irritated driver. Even worse, careless behavior can cause a collision or injury. So, let’s all slow down and follow these five tips to make parking lots safer for everyone:

  1. Don’t Speed Speeding decreases the amount of time you have to react when a child runs out in front of you, another driver stops suddenly or a car begins backing out unexpectedly. Is a collision – or even a fatality – really worth the price of getting to your destination just a bit sooner?
  2. Use Your Eyes – and Mirrors and Cameras Keep a lookout for perils at all times, even if the lot seems empty. When you’re pulling into a spot, watch for doors being opened. When backing out, look all around, in your mirrors and in your rear-view camera and proceed slowly.
  3. Give Yourself – and Others – Some Space Parking in between the lines and in a spot sized for your vehicle may help to minimize dings and scratches. Better yet, park in a less-crowded area and enjoy the stroll into the store – just don’t park where you feel unsafe. And, always park away from stray carts.
  4. Expect the Unexpected Assume things will happen. That someone will dart out in front of you, that a cart will come rolling toward you, that someone backing out of his/her spot won’t see you backing out of yours. When you’re on guard, you’re better prepared for those who aren’t.
  5. Be Respectful A little kindness goes a long way in a parking lot or parking garage. So stop for pedestrians, don’t cause traffic jams waiting for a spot and, above all, don’t lose your cool.

Remember, when you’re watching for dangers, you have a better chance of avoiding them. If an incident does occur, we here at Advantage Insurance Agency are ready to help.

Drivers Arguing After The Accident

Clean Your Way to a Longer-Lasting Car

Motor vehicle corrosion is a billion-dollar problem in the United States, according to the Federal Highway Administration. And, no wonder. Road salt, tree sap, mud, pollution and even dead bugs and bird poop all contribute to a year-round assault on your vehicle here in Northeast Ohio, potentially leading to serious damage and pre-mature aging.

Safety is also an issue. Grime across your windshield and windows restricts visibility in all directions, and even a light coating of dust or pollen can impair your vision, especially at night or when driving into the sun’s glare.

That’s why we here at Advantage Insurance Agency encourage you to visit your local car wash regularly. Washing your car removes dirt, residues and pollutants that degrade your paint finish and corrode the underlying metal. It’s like anti-aging cosmetics for your automobile!

But, is hand washing at home or visiting a commercial car wash your best bet? While both lead to a clean vehicle, you’ll cut your water usage in half by going to a commercial facility and help keep toxins and soap away from street drains, which can lead to local waterways. As a bonus, some commercial facilities recycle their water.

No matter which method you choose, these five tips will help you get the most out of your car-cleaning routine:

  1. Wash often. The longer tree sap, dead bugs and other gunk sit atop your paint, the more damage they can cause.
  2. Avoid abrasive soaps, cloths and sponges that can grind dirt deeper into your paint finish.
  3. Wash the undercarriage thoroughly to help prevent rust, especially after driving on road salt in the winter.
  4. Don’t forget the headlights. When you’re driving at night, in the rain or through an unfamiliar neighborhood, you want every lumen of illumination you can muster.
  5. Consider eco-friendly car soaps, such as biodegradable or waterless products, to help lighten the environmental impact of washing your car more often.

And, when you’re all done? Finish up with a good waxing to give your car extra protection and shinersz_foto_carro

Keeping your home secure

Everyone wants to keep their home safe from burglars or intruders, but not everyone wants to have an alarm system installed. There are plenty of people who prefer the do-it-yourself route, whether it’s home improvement or home security.

And nowadays, there are more options than ever when it comes to home security, so we at Advantage Insurance Agency want to help you sort through those options with a few tips.

Do-it-yourself options

The widespread availability of electronic tools means that homeowners can set up their own monitoring systems if they choose, without the help of a home-security company.

  • Cameras: Smaller and more inexpensive than ever, cameras can be placed nearly anywhere on the exterior of your home and monitored from inside wirelessly — or set to record footage for review later. Available software even allows you to point your laptop camera in a particular direction (say, at the front door) and check the images from a remote location.
  • Lights: Motion-detecting floodlights are an excellent deterrent to thieves, because they don’t want to be seen. Make sure they’re installed near entryways, and that they aren’t easily reached from the ground. And using timers for interior lights is a good way to give the appearance that your home is occupied.
  • Alarms: Vibration alarms are available for windows, alerting you if someone is trying to get in. Similarly, other monitors can be installed near doors and programmed to sound if a person comes within a set distance. Some even emit barking sounds to make it appear that a dog is in the house.

Even if you aren’t interested in installing security equipment around your home, there are a number of things you can do to increase safety:

    • Keep your home locked. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many people leave windows or doors unlocked. Make sure that sliding doors and windows have extra security, such as a track lock or dowel in the track.
  • Don’t leave a key outside. If you need to provide access to your home while you’re away, leave your key with a trusted neighbor or friend.

 

  • Watch the landscaping. Thick shrubs and bushes around your porch or yard can give thieves a good place to hide. Keep them well-trimmed and ensure that problematic areas can be illuminated with your outdoor lighting.
  • Use common sense. If you’re going away on vacation, cancel your newspaper and other deliveries. Ask a neighbor to keep watch, and park a car out front. Don’t post publicly on social media or leave a message on your answering machine or voicemail indicating that you’ll be away for an extended period.

Burglars really do consider deterrents such as alarms, cameras, dogs, etc., when looking at targets, according to a study released by the University of North Carolina. So a small investment in security can make a big difference!

Sidebar:

It’s a great time for a home inventory

If your home was burglarized, would you know what was missing? A home inventory is a crucial tool to help replace everything that was lost. And we can help you do one! Give us a call at 330-940-2288 or visit our website at www.advantagecf.com to learn more.

Contact Us!

At Advantage Insurance Agency, 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 330-940-2288 or send us a note at sales@advantagecf.com We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!f_13936448_1

Before the wind blows, secure your trees and shrubs

The seasons are changing, and the colors of autumn abound.

Regrettably, fall’s stunning display is often accompanied by some unwelcome weather hazards in Ohio namely, wind – that can cause considerable damage to the very trees that produce those beautiful fall leaves.

At Advantage Insurance Agency, we want your yard and home to stay great throughout the season. Take a look at the following tips to ensure you keep your trees and shrubs healthy and avoid destruction that can result when the wind blows.

To protect existing trees

  • Bundle ‘em up. Go to a home and garden store and buy enough landscape fabric and plant ties to cover trees and shrubs vulnerable to the changing weather. Wrap them up for the winter and then unwrap them after spring has sprung.
  • Exercise pruning prowess. Proper pruning is essential to ensure trees can withstand winds, so make sure you use correct pruning techniques or hire a professional.
  • Trees and more trees. If you have trees that are especially susceptible to wind, consider planting more trees. Experts say to choose trees, like conifers and evergreens, to create a windbreak. As an added bonus, a windbreak placed in correct proximity to a home can reduce energy costs by up to 30 percent. Keep in mind: conifers should be planted at least 20 feet away from a structure, evergreens at least 30 feet away.

 

When planting new trees

  • Know which way the wind blows. Pay attention to the wind patterns in your part of Ohio through the fall and winter seasons and how they affect your particular lot. Plant trees in areas where structures, such as your home, garage or shed, can serve to shelter them from the wind.
  • Give them some space. Plant trees far enough away from structures and foundations. A smaller tree should have at least a 10-square-foot space to itself, and a larger tree needs at least 30 square feet.

At Advantage Insurance Agency, we hope these tips will ensure that you and your yard hang tough all season long… even when the wind starts howling.tree_falls_on_vehicle_-_toronto_ice_storm_2013

Eight Tips For The Road Ahead Be Safe, Be Smart On A Long-Distance Road Trip

Whether you’re traveling alone, with a buddy or with your spouse and a car full of kids, there are few things more “American” than the long-distance road trip. Countless vacation travelers will drive the highways looking for fun and making memories with every mile. If traveling down the “holiday road” is in your plans, take the time to prepare for your trip. You’ll have a more enjoyable vacation if you plan carefully. Here are a few driving tips, courtesy of Advantage Insurance Agency:

1) Maintain your car. Make sure your vehicle is up to date on its maintenance schedule, and be sure to check the battery and tires.

2) Plan your trip and know where you’re going. Call ahead for proper and safe directions to get you to your destination safely and have maps of the area on hand to help you navigate once you are off the main road. You’re more likely to make good decisions, even in dangerous situations, if you’re clearheaded and know where you’re going.

3) Be alert. Seems obvious, but driver inattention is surely the cause of a lot of accidents. If you stay focused behind the wheel and plan carefully, you will have a wonderful summer road trip.

4) Take precaution with a cell phone. Cell phones can be a lifesaver when you need immediate access to emergency services after an accident. Keep your phone within easy reach and get to know its features. However, use it prudently. Reports suggest that driving while talking on the phone increases accident rates.

5) Wear your seat belt. Whether or not it’s required by law in the state through which you’re driving, always wear your seat belt as a safety precaution.

6) Protect your car against theft. Help deter criminals from taking your car with steering wheel locks, switches that disable fuel or ignition systems, and electronic tracking devices.

7) If you’re in an accident. Taking immediate steps if you’ve been in an accident can protect your family and your car from further damage. Stop immediately and make sure your car is not blocking traffic. Turn off your car to keep it from overheating or catching fire. Warn oncoming cars using road flares or orange triangle reflectors. After you have protected yourself and your family, call your insurance company immediately.

8) Make sure your auto insurance is up to date. Before you even leave the driveway, you want to be sure you’re protected when you’re on the road and far from home. An independent insurance agent or broker can provide the personal service and advice you need to travel in confidence.

To learn more about what an independent insurance agency offers you, visit Advantage Insurance Agency or call 330-940-2288.image1

Why an Independent Agent?

Not all insurance agents are the same! Choosing the right one can make a big difference – in price, service, and value.

With other agencies, you get one company that sells one brand of insurance. With an independent insurance agency like Advantage Insurance Agency you get choices.

Why? Because independent insurance agencies, like Advantage Insurance Agency, represent a number of different insurance companies, and can compare coverage and prices to find the best possible value for your individual circumstances. As independent agents, we are members of the Akron and surrounding area community, and we’re committed to doing business face-to-face and being your advocate in times of need.

Serving Greater Akron and the state of Ohio here are a few reasons why Advantage Insurance Agency should be your first and last top when looking for insurance.

  • We work for you when you have a claim.
  • We are not beholden to any one company. This means you don’t have to change agencies as your insurance and service needs change.
  • We are your consultants, working with you as you determine your needs.
  • We are value-hunters who look after your pocketbook in finding the best combination of price, coverage, and service.
  • We offer one-stop shopping for a full range of products, including home, renters, auto, business, life, health, and retirement plans.
  • We can periodically review your coverage to keep up with your changing insurance needs.
  • We are committed to customer satisfaction – it’s the key to our livelihood.
  • We treat you like a person, not a number.
  • We are licensed professionals with strong customer and community ties.

There is a difference. To find out how our independent insurance agency can help you find the right insurance coverage, please contact Advantage Insurance Agency today. Give us a call today at 330-940-2288 or sales@advantagecf.com100_1013resize

Driving Dangers: Responding to 4 Unexpected Incidents

This Fall, you might be headed out on a road trip to a state park or maybe just for a quick visit to the in-laws. But, if you lose your brakes, blow a tire or experience another unusual (but not unheard of) problem, you could be headed for trouble.

So, let’s take a look at four situations you might face and some general guidance that may help you reach your destination safely:

  • The brakes go out Your primary concern, of course, is to work your way over to the shoulder and stop the vehicle. To do so, try to downshift smoothly through the gears, which should slow down the car. Once you’re off the road, try the emergency brake and, if needed, roll into something that will help bring you to a stop while going at a low speed. Always avoid high-speed collisions, if at all possible.
  • The accelerator sticks Quick action may help you get things under control here. Shift into neutral, which will stop the engine from powering the wheels. Doing this allows you to retain power steering and braking ability, so you can better control the car. You can try turning off the car (which will certainly slow it down), but it will be harder to control without power.
  • A tire blows The National Safety Commission advises drivers to not slam on the brakes. The car will want to veer toward the side of the bad tire, and braking can make it veer even more. Instead, concentrate on steering to the side of the road as you slow down gradually.
  • An animal jumps into the road There are more than a million collisions between vehicles and wildlife each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Be mindful whenever you’re driving, especially around dawn and dusk, which are high-activity times for large animals. If you encounter a deer, moose or other animal in the road, hit your brakes and sound your horn. Try not to swerve — serious injuries and fatalities often occur when cars make extreme maneuvers to avoid animals.

We here at Advantage Insurance Agency hope you never encounter any of these situations. But, if you do, keep your cool and respond safely. If something does happen, we’ll be here to help you through it!

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