Category Archives: Personal

Information You Should Get/Give After An Auto Accident

This article was taken from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website,, highlighting a great new mobile app, called “WreckCheck,” that can help insured’s capture the appropriate information after an auto accident. This is very important information to know since providing too much information after an accident is a very easy way for your personal information to fall into the wrong hands.


Accidents Happen 
Take steps to protect yourself, your property and your identity

In an automobile accident, you are concerned first about your safety and secondly about your vehicle. Likely, the last thing on your mind is protecting your identity. In fact, a recent survey by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) suggests that, after an accident, many Americans do not really know what information they should share with the other driver. State laws vary, but in most cases you need only provide your name and vehicle insurance information, which should include the name and phone number of your insurance provider. Sharing personal information such as your address and phone number may put your privacy and identity at risk. However, if another driver is unable to provide vehicle ownership and/or insurance information it is appropriate to ask for their phone number, address and driver’s license number.

According to the July 2012 survey:

  • Thirty-eight percent of consumers believed they should share their driver’s license number with the other driver — one in six would even allow the other driver to photograph the license as a convenient way to exchange information.
      • So what’s the risk? Many retailers accept driver’s license information to verify your identity over the phone. In fact, your license number is the most common way to confirm your identity after Social Security number and date of birth.
  • Twenty-five percent of consumers surveyed said they would share their home address.
      • Actually, your home address gives identity thieves the physical location of your mail or garbage, the first place criminals often look for personal financial information. And, now a stranger knows where you live, possibly putting your personal safety at risk.
  • Twenty-nine percent of survey respondents believed they are required to share personal phone numbers. In fact, sharing your phone number is rarely necessary.

Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States. The Federal Trade Commission estimates nearly nine million consumers have their identities stolen each year, disrupting finances and damaging credit histories and reputation. Knowing what to share helps keep property and identities safe.

The survey also found that consumers were unsure about other auto accident best practices. For example, nearly 20 percent of respondents believe the only reason to call police after an accident is if someone is injured. However, filing a police report can help facilitate the insurance claims process.

Wreck Check App

New WreckCheck App for Smartphones

To take some of the guesswork out of a tense situation, the NAIC has developed WreckCheck, a new, free mobile app for iPhone® and Android® smartphones. The new app outlines what to do immediately following an accident and walks users through a step-by-step process to create their own accident report. The app directs them to capture photos and helps document and share only what is necessary to file an insurance claim. Users can even email their completed reports to themselves and their insurance agents.

No smartphone? NAIC offers a downloadable accident checklist and tips for staying calm, safe and smart on the road.

For more tips and tools to make sure you are protected in case of an auto accident, visit

Tips For At The Scene Photography After An Auto Accident

Taking pictures of the scene of a car accident can be very beneficial to handling your auto insurance claim. Pictures can help claim adjusters determine what happened, who hit who, and if there were any street signs or signals that weren’t obeyed.Accident Pics by Insured copy


Have you ever wondered what pictures to take after your vehicle has been involved in a car accident?

Property & Casualty 360: A National Underwriter Website, has shared six photography tips that an insured can follow to make sure they have the essential documentation for their auto claim. Not everyone wants to take their own pictures, or has the capability of taking pictures at the scene of the accident, but if you are one of those who do, these tips will help capture the damage that the claims adjusters are looking for.

  1. Photograph all the vehicles involved and their relative positions from all angles to establish the boundaries of the crash scene and the impact zone. Think about tracing the main points of a compass to catch all those angles.

  2. Broaden the view and take photographs of the street layout, landmarks, traffic controls, and signage. Try to include pictures that show the vehicle’s position relative to its closest landmark. Investigators deployed later rely on such distinguishing details to help them reconstruct accident events accurately.

  3. Focus on the damages sustained by all the vehicles involved in the crash. Photograph the vehicle’s four corners, making sure to capture two sides of that vehicle in the viewfinder with each shot. (Example, front of car and passenger side of car.) Next, photograph each side of the vehicle straight on before focusing on documenting the damaged areas of the car. Take close-up photos of the damage and broader views for context.

  4. Make sure also to take shots of the vehicles’ identifying features like license plates and VIN numbers.

  5. Look inside the vehicle and take photographs of any interior damage, deployed airbags, seatbelts, and so forth.

  6. Document roadside debris, marks, and gouges on the roadway; strewn vehicle parts; and anything else pertinent to the accident. Try to show the relationship of the vehicle(s) to the debris depicted in image.

Above all else, make sure you take care of any injuries and safety concerns FIRST. Be mindful of traffic around the accident scene and stay safe while taking pictures.

Read the full article from Property & Casualty 360 here.


What Financial Documents You Should Keep Safe and Dry

(This post originally ran in July of 2011 on the LIFE Foundation website, but in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, it seems pertinent to run it again–especially in light of the advice in the last paragraph.)

How many of you have legal and financial documents stashed in different drawers in different locations? Perhaps you have some in your home safe, some in drawers in the bedroom, others in the den and more in the office. What happens when you become sick or die? Does any one person know where all the documents are located? Probably not, including you.

The Wall Street Journal published a very interesting article, The 25 Documents You Need Before You Die, addressing just this problem. The article was two pages long, very detailed and well written, so let me give you a synopsis of what it said.

According to the WSJ, there are six categories of documents which should be maintained: marriage and divorce, life insurance and retirement, health care, bank accounts, proof of ownership and the “essentials.” Here is what should be included in these categories.

Marriage and Divorce
o Marriage license
o Divorce papers
Life Insurance and Retirement
o Life insurance policies
o Individual retirement accounts
o 401(k) accounts
o Pension documents
o Annuity contracts
Health Care
o Personal and family medical history
o Durable health-care power of attorney
o Authorization to release health-care information
o Living will
o Do-not-resuscitate order
o Pre-need declaration of guardianship (not required in all states, but an excellent idea)
Bank Accounts
o List of bank accounts
o List of investment accounts
o List of all user names and passwords
o List of safe-deposit boxes
Proof of ownership
o Housing, land and cemetery deeds
o Escrow mortgage accounts
o Proof of loans made and debts owed
o Vehicle titles
o Stock certificates, savings bonds and brokerage accounts
o Partnership and corporate operating agreements
o Tax returns
The Essentials
o Will
o Letter of instruction
o Other business documents such as buy-sell or stock redemption agreements

My list includes more than the 25 mentioned by the WSJ, and your list may include others. Here is another hint from someone who lives in an area prone to severe storms and flooding. Put your documents in water-tight containers to prevent loss or damage due to water.

Now you have your list. Start organizing!

Article was taken from:

Written by: Marvin H. Feldman, CLU, ChFC, RFC, President and CEO of the LIFE Foundation


Gov. Rick Snyder Talks Auto Insurance Overhaul for Michigan

Gov Rick Snyder Pic
Photo courtesy of

In Governor Rick Snyder’s State of the State address, he mentioned that “Michigan is the 10th most expensive state for auto insurance.” This isn’t new information to anyone who has auto insurance in Michigan because we’ve continually seen our auto insurance premiums increasing every year.

The fact is, “this ‘one size fits all’ system is expensive, has few cost controls and does not provide any incentives for thrift,” says Jeffrey Junkas, the regional manager of the Property Casualty Insurance Association of America. “As a result Michigan drivers pay 20-30 percent more than in neighboring states.”

I am certainly not the first insurance agent who has heard customers complain about their increasing premiums, but good news! Hope may be on its way. Read the Property & Casualty 360 article titled, “Michigan Governor Talks Auto-Insurance Reform in Address,” highlighting the auto insurance reform Gov. Rick Snyder proposes.

IIHS Top Safety Picks for 2013

As as insurance agent, I am frequently asked auto questions from ‘what is the best car to look for when purchasing a new vehicle’, to ‘which vehicle is the least expensive to insure’.

Hopefully I’m not the first to tell you that vehicle safety is one of the many components to determining your insurance rate. If a vehicle does a poor job at keeping its passengers safe during accidents, then that increases the cost of the claim that the vehicle’s owner would file. Injuries from auto accidents can add up quickly, so if a vehicle does a good job at minimizing those injuries, then insurance companies reward that with lower rates.

“IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal or poor based on performance in a moderate overlap frontal crash, small overlap frontal crash, side impact and rollover, plus evaluations of seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts. Top Safety Pick+ winners must earn good ratings for occupant protection in at least 4 of 5 evaluations, with no less than acceptable in the fifth test.”

Here is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Picks for 2013. To read the full article, click here.


IIHS logo   News Release | December 20, 2012

New TOP SAFETY PICK+ award goes to 13 cars;
117 additional vehicles earn Top Safety Pick

To qualify for Top Safety Pick vehicles must have good ratings for occupant protection in the moderate overlap frontal test, side impact, rollover and rear tests, regardless of their small overlap rating.

“Models that earn Top Safety Pick also offer outstanding protection in many crashes,” Lund says. “These vehicles are much safer choices than most vehicles on the market just five years ago.”

Midsize moderately priced cars Midsize luxury/near luxury cars
Chrysler 200 4-door Acura TL
Dodge Avenger Volvo S60
Ford Fusion built after Dec. 2012
Honda Accord 2-door
Honda Accord 4-door
Kia Optima
Nissan Altima 4-door built after Nov. 2012
Subaru Legacy built after Aug. 2012
Subaru Outback built after Aug. 2012
Suzuki Kizashi
Volkswagen Passat built after Oct. 2012

Make Sure You Are Covered In 2013

Since we’ve begun a new year, it’s time to reflect on the year prior to make sure your insurance policies are updated to reflect any life changes you may have gone through. Here are some tips from once of our carriers, Grange Insurance: Grange Insurance Hi Res Version

1. Save Money.

In the new year, your insurance company may release new offerings, such as coverages or services of which you can take advantage and from which you can benefit. Your insurance provider may also offer new discounts, or you may now be eligible for discounts that you were not eligible for in 2012.
“Talk with your local independent agent to see what new options may be a good fit for you and where life will take you in 2013,” said John Ammendola, president, Grange Personal Lines. “Oftentimes, policyholders find that by making changes or bundling two policies under the same provider, such as homeowners and auto, they can save money. Reviewing these options is a great way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your insurance policy, whether it covers your home, car or even your life.”

2. Review the Past Year’s Events.

Perhaps you tied the knot in 2012 or purchased a new home. Whatever your major life change, you should ensure that your policy coverage is updated to properly protect your family and your assets.
When reviewing your policy, Ammendola suggests considering these important factors:


  • Did you make improvements or renovations to your home? If yes, you may need to increase your dwelling limit to ensure you have adequate coverage in an event of a fire or other damage to your home.
  • Did you purchase something of a significant value? If yes, consider increasing your contents coverage to ensure it is properly covered in the case of theft or damage.
  • Do you have a newly licensed driver? If yes, it may be a good idea to consider an umbrella policy – a policy designed to provide additional liability protection on both your homeowner and auto policies.
  • Did you get married or divorced? If yes, then you may need to add/remove your spouses name to your policies, purchase life insurance or change beneficiaries on your current policy.

3. Insure your Holiday Gifts.

If the holidays bring sparkly gifts, then review your homeowners or renters insurance policy to make sure you have adequate coverage for your new valuables.
“Oftentimes, under standard homeowners or renters insurance, gifts such as jewelry, watches, coins, hand tools and guns have coverage limitations,” said Ammendola. “It is important to check your policy for these value limitations and, if needed, purchase broader coverage to ensure your gifts are properly covered in the case of theft, fire or damage.”

Call the Reno Agency today at 269.792.2232 to schedule your insurance review to make sure there are no gaps in coverage on your insurance policies.

Personal and Business Insurance Rates Continue to Rise

Rates in both commercial and personal lines insurance continued to increase through November, according to the electronic exchange MarketScout.* 

– Commercial-lines accounts increased an average of 5 percent in November.

– Personal lines increased an average of 4 percent in November.

What is the reason for the increase?

In the article, MarketScout: Rate Increases Continue Through Nov. for both Commercial and Personal Lines, Meyer Shields, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus wrote, “we see insurers’ deteriorating calendar-year results as the primary catalyst for rate increases, and we expect these increases to accelerate as favorable reserve development subsides, net investment income declines and accident-year results worsen.”

Super-storm Sandy will be a main contributor to insurance costs increasing in the near future as companies are anticipating to pay out in upwards of $25 billion in claims.

To read the full article, which highlights which insurance products are increasing and by how much, click the link below.

*MarketScout is an insurance exchange based in Dallas, Texas. MarketScout has over 47,000 users, the vast majority of whom are independent retail agents. This is the largest amalgamation of independent agents in the United States. All users are linked into the MarketScout Exchange. Agent interest, buying habits and activity has been tracked since June 2000, the inception date of the MarketScout Exchange.

Prepare Your Home or Business for Freezing Temps

Well, it’s finally December, even if there is no snow on the ground. Soon enough though, the freezing temps will arrive and we’ll all be bundled up for the winter months. When the outside temperature drops, the chance of a loss occurring for homes and businesses rises. The most important thing you can do to prevent losses due to cold weather is to be aware of what could happen and prepare for it. Before the snow falls is the best time to check your home or business for maintenance/repair issues so you can minimize the chance for loss when the snow piles up.

Remember the Metrodome stadium roof collapse in 2010? Don’t let a similar situation happen to you. Fox Sports – Metrodome Roof Collapses

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety has a list of ways to prepare for water leaks, burst pipes, roof collapses, ways to prevent ice dams, and how to heat your home safely. This is a great website that offers excellent tips, so I highly recommend that you take a look so you can prepare your home or business for those freezing temps.

For Homes:

For Businesses: