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Will Obtaining Insruance Quotes Affect your Credit Score?

Will Obtaining Insruance Quotes Affect your Credit Score?

Anyone that has recently shopped around for home or auto or home insurance quotes may realize that most insurance companies will now check your credit score along with your driving record and other insurance history. In turn, the better your credit score the more likely you will be offered a more affordable rate quote.  Therefore the question has been asked: although your credit score may affect your insurance rate, will shopping for insurance quotes affect your credit score?

The short answer is “no”. Shopping for multiple insurance quotes will not affect your credit score. When it comes to credit checks, we must differentiate between two types of inquiries: “hard pulls” and “soft pulls.” A hard pull refers to credit inquiries for actually acquiring credit, such as from a credit card company or a lender. A soft pull is an inquiry that will review your credit score only, will not lower your score and often is not even recorded on your credit report. Insurance companies generally do not look at your actual credit report. Instead, it receives your credit score or your insurance score from one or more of the three major national credit repositories — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. “An insurance score is going to be less concerned with your propensity to take on new credit and more interested in how long you’ve been managing credit,” says Craig Watts, a FICO spokesman. “Insurance scores focus on issues of stability.” Therefore, this is what most insurance companies will focus on.

The bottom line on this issue is as follows: Insurance companies and agents that see a potential client with a high credit score will consider you a low-risk client, someone who promptly pays their bills on time and is responsible. They will then be able to offer you more affordable insurance quotes. The best thing you can do if you have good or bad credit is to shop around for insurance quotes and narrow your choice down by the reputation of the insurance company (and staff) and premium and coverage quoted. As a starting point please visit Staten Island Insurance for a free insurance quote.

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GPSAuto accidents are the number one killer of teens. Teens account for approximately 14% of all motor vehicle accident deaths. 5,288 teens died in motor vehicle accidents in 2005 in the United States. Unfortunately, car crashes are the leading cause of death among teens, accounting for more than one-third of all deaths of 16 to 18 year-olds.

Once they get behind the wheel, they think they can control their car at any speed and tend to push the limits. The problem is that inexperience and immaturity contribute to their reckless behavior and unfortunately, the results can be disastrous.

Naturally, the question arises as to how can I ensure that my teen drives safely. Recently, in New York State, we have begun to see an increase in sales for GPS monitoring systems. Constant and direct supervision or monitoring with a GPS tracking system for at least the first year of driving can significantly reduce teen driver auto accidents and give parents some much needed peace of mind. In the past year, a number of companies have come out with tracking systems that can help parents monitor their new teen drivers. While we believe that education is the most important component of safe teen driving, there are also some situations where parents might want to have some monitoring capability. Here are some guidelines if you are considering a teen monitoring system:

1. Make sure you understand how the system works and that it will work with your model and year of car.
2. Check the total fees. They might include an installation fee as well as a monthly fee.
3. Find out if there is a minimum time limit for a contract.
4. Find out what data will be monitored and transmitted to you: speed, location, etc
5. How does the system notify you of your teen’s location.
While GPS is a technology with a proven track record, the ultimate impact it can have on teen driving safety is still being explored. But one thing is clear–with millions of Americans nationwide focused on helping teenagers drive more safely, GPS tracking services will play a significant role.  To find out more ways you can help your teen driver’s saftey, contact your insurance agent.

Graduated drivers license systems in the United States are designed to give young drivers the opportunity to practice driving with various restrictions in place. With traffic accidents being the leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States, graduated licensing programs have been designed to reduce teen accidents and fatalities. Graduated licensing laws vary and not all states have an official program. Recognizing the importance of driving experience, New York-like many other states-has adopted a graduated driver’s licensing program for drivers under the age of 18.

In general, an individual must have a New York State driver license or a valid driver license from another US state or from Canada to drive in New York. Additionally, in most cases you can drive in New York if you have a valid driver license from another country. The minimum driving age in NYS is 16.
The State of New York has what is called a “graduated license law”, as mentioned above. It was enacted in September of 2003 and it affects all junior drivers (16 and 17 years old) and senior permit holders in New York State.

What is a “Limited Junior License?
According to this article , a Limited Junior License is an “intermediate step between a learner permit and a “full” Junior license, allowing young drivers (16 and 17-year olds) time to gain driving experience before obtaining unsupervised driving privileges”.

What Can’t You do with a Limited Junior License
For all permit holders, regardless of your age or when your received your learners permit: Your supervising driver must be at least 21 years old.

For all junior learner permit and junior license holders, regardless of when you received your learner permit: No more than two passengers under the age of 21 are allowed in the vehicle unless they are members of your immediate family; this does not apply if the accompanying driver is your licensed parent, guardian, person “in loco parentis,” driver education teacher or driving school instructor.

Are there any restrictions on Limited Junior Licenses?
Limited Junior Licenses are subject to the restrictions listed below. These restrictions based on what specific area in New York you are from.

In Nassau County, Suffolk County (including Long Island), Westchester County, Putnam County, & Rockland County, the restrictions are:

Between 5AM and 9PM: Driver is not allowed to drive alone. They are required to be supervised by a parent/guardian who is 21 or older and has a valid license for the specific vehicle that he/she is driving.

Between 9PM and 5AM: Driver is not allowed to drive under ANY circumstance.

How should a parent keep track of teen drivers?
If you have a child under 18 years old that is driving, you have the option of being automatically notified by mail whenever the teenager has a traffic conviction, license suspension, or reported accident.

To enroll in this program, fill out this form and mail it to:
Office for the Younger Driver
NYS Department of Motor Vehicles
6 Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12228

For more information about this specific program (known as TEENS – Teen Electronic Event Notification Service), please read this document, published on the New York State DMV site.

Does Owning a Trampoline Affect Home Insurance?

Does Owning a Trampoline Affect Home Insurance?

Many insurance companies throughout New York State region and Long Island have begun to take a hard look at the existence of trampolines in the backyard of homes that they insure. The industry has watched these backyard trampolines go from being a non-issue in underwriting to being a factor used to disqualify a risk, deny a claim or even cancel an existing policy.

 

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, trampoline injuries have tripled over the past ten years. Additionally, sales of trampolines have increased more than 350%, with an estimated 3.5 million trampolines in use.

As insurance companies react to this increase in exposure, homeowners are advised to review their home insurance policy with their agent/broker to make sure that they are properly covered. Some home insurance policies will contain a Trampoline Exclusion Clause which will exclude liability resulting from a trampoline related injury. This can be a huge financial insurance gap in coverage and may result in a devastating financial hardship should one be sued. It is therefore recommended that you obtain insurance from a carrier that does not exclude this type of liability exposure.

 

Our insurance agency, among others, is one company that will provide coverage for this. With some carriers the existence of such an exposure is an issue and they may ask you to remove the trampoline or have your insurance policy canceled. Also, in the event that an invited friend or guest is injured while jumping on your trampoline, and you are uncertain whether you have liability coverage for this, you may find out the hard way that you are responsible for some hefty medical bills and legal bills in defending a claim. It would be best to find out now, and not after the fact and take the necessary steps in order to be held financially responsible.

 

In summary, the important thing is to make sure that your home insurance policy has the necessary coverage to protect you and your family from liability that arises out of trampoline related injuries. If not, then it’s is time to start shopping again.  If you are wondering where to start, click here to obtain a free online insurance quote.

Frozen Pipes

Frozen Pipes

Protect Your House: Avoid Damage From Frozen Pipes:

 

In New York, the winter weather can change dramatically. The temperature can fluctuate from a balmy 55 degrees one day and then plummet to sub-freezing temperatures the next day. Vulnerable pipes can burst if water in them freezes and expands. This can lead to thousands of dollars in property damage to the home and its contents. According to the Insurance Information Institute, winter storms are the third largest cause of loss, resulting in over 23 billion in insured losses over the past decade.

To prepare for the onset of cold weather BEFORE the freeze, homeowners should:

  1. Cover any vents around your home’s foundation
  2. Add extra insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces
  3. Drain water sprinkler supply lines
  4. Protect faucets, outdoor pipes, and pipes in unheated areas
  5. Learn how to shut the water off and know where your pipes are located.    In the event of a burst pipe you need to be able to locate the shut off valve and stop further damage.
  6. Set your thermostat at a minimum temperature of 55 degrees, especially when you’re gone for the day or for an extended period.
  7. Let indoor faucets drip if they are connected to pipes that run through unheated or unprotected space.

If You Have a Loss:  

Mitigate the damage by turning off the water supply and moving personal property out of harms way. At this point you should contact your insurance agent or insurance broker and he/she will advise you whether to make temporary repairs to prevent further damage. Keep all damaged property and any receipts that you have so that they are available for inspection by the adjuster.

 

Most standard home insurance  policies cover this water damage to your home and its contents, subject to your deductible. Also, most home insurance  policies will cover the cost to obtain access to the pipe.  What is not covered is the actual repair of the pipe itself-this will usually be excluded.  For more information on this important coverage you should contact your insurance agent or broker to review coverages before a loss occurs.

Hurricane-Proof Your Home

 
As we edge closer to another hurricane season in the New York/Long Island area, preparing your house for disaster should be a priority.

 

Whether your home is old or new, it may not be able to withstand hurricane force winds.  To protect your home, the American Red Cross recommends that you focus in on three particular areas of your home: the roof, the windows and the doors (including a garage door if you have one).

 

 

Hurricane Roof Damage

Hurricane Roof Damage

 Window Protection:

 Unprotected windows are very vulnerable to wind damage and damage from wind blown debris therefore it is critical that you protect them. The easiest and most effective way to protect them is with storm shutters. Steel is the best and the most expensive. Aluminum and plywood shutters are also available.    

  

 

These are readily obtainable from many building supply stores, including Home Depot and Lowes.  If you live in a hurricane or storm-prone area, you may want to also think about installing impact resistant windows according to the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes. These windows are designed to withstand flying debris. Also be aware that taping your windows will not protect them and is not effective.

 

Storm-Proof the Roof:
Another vulnerable area of your home is the roof. During a hurricane, the wind can actually get underneath the roof shingle and peel it off the roof.  The Federal Alliance for Safe Home recommends you go to your local building supply store and get premium flooring adhesive. Apply with a caulking gun to the underside of your roofwhere the roof and the support beams meet. Be sure to look for an adhesive that has been tested and has a strong rating.

 

Hurricane Damage to Garage Door

Hurricane Damage to Garage Door

Even the best methods of roof and window protection is not enough if you don’t also protect your doors (including your garage door). The garage door is potentially the largest and weakest opening of your home to a hurricane. According to the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes about 80% of residential hurricane wind damage starts with wind entry through garage doors, making this a critical area to reinforce.  However, many garage doors are made of lightweight materials that make it vulnerable to hurricane damage. A qualified inspector can determine if both the door and the track system can resist high winds and, if necessary, help replace them with a stronger system.  
 
Pay special attention to any sliding glass doors that you may have, as they are more vulnerable to wind damage than most other doors. When building a home or replacing a door, you should consider impact resistant door systems. As a temporary measure, you can cover the entire patio door with plywood.
 
Finally, periodically review your home insurance policy with your agent and make sure you are properly covered BEFORE disaster strikes.

In New York, particularly on Long Island in Nassau County, Suffolk County, Queens County, Brooklyn County, and Richmond County, homeowners may be faced with the prospect of trying to obtain home insurance (or having existing insurance) for a home that they own which is on or close to the water. In recent years this has become a complicated challenge.

A Flooded House on Long Island
A Flooded House on Long Island

Most insurance companies have restrictions based on the homes’ proximity to the ocean and other tidal waters, therefore, it becomes important know the obstacles you are up against BEFORE you purchase that dream house. The cut-off for most companies is 2500 feet of the ocean or tidal bay, although this may vary.

In recent years, the increased hurricane activity and the over-development along waterfront property has put more homes in harms way of wind and water damage. To limit exposure to these catastrophic storms and hurricanes, many insurance carriers have introduced wind or hurricane deductibles into their policies. This deductible typically can be 2%, 5% or 7% of your dwelling coverage, which can be a hefty amount.  For example, if your dwelling coverage is $250,000, your 5% deductible will be $12,500. You should therefore review your home insurance policy and understand this important deductible language. You must understand:

1. What % deductible your policy carries (2%, 5%, 7%) 

2. What triggers the deductible to apply (a windstorm, a category one or category two hurricane).

Another important consideration when insuring your home near any body of water should be flood insurance, as your home policy will not normally cover damages arising out of a flood. In New York, companies selling the National Flood Insurance policy can help you with this coverage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has established flood zones for your home’s location and the insurance premium will be based upon that flood zone.  For example, premiums for $250,000 of dwelling coverage will range from $338 annually in the most desirable “X” zone and could be as much as $1,000-2,000 in the more vulnerable “A” zone.   

As insurance companies re-evaluate their risk management in the New York coastal areas it is more important than ever to continually review your home insurance policy and set up a meeting with your agent to make sure you are properly covered. The cost for this “insurance check-up” should be free, and could give you some much needed peace of mind knowing that you are properly covered before disaster strikes.

A Flooded Street in NYC
A Flooded Street in NYC

If you are one of the unfortunate policyholders that have received a non-renewal notice due to your home’s location you should not panic, as you will have a couple of months to secure new coverage. First, try and get a referral from the company that is cancelling you, as they may have a relationship with a local broker that is able to write your insurance. And secondly, make sure you try and stay with a financially secure and reputable company.