THURSDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2022
Posted 2:02 PM
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13, 2022
When The Wizard of Oz blew into theaters in 1939, one major character was absent from certain news reports. Before 1948, mentioning "tornado" during a weather broadcast could end the career of the meteorologist. Because of their seeming unpredictability and the likelihood of public panic, the term was effectively banned by the Weather Bureau. But thanks to advances in technology and the work of two Air Force meteorologists, the tornado forecast celebrated its 74th anniversary on March 25th .
While science has improved the ability to forecast these destructive storms, the fact remains they are still incredibly erratic, wreaking havoc on one side of a street while leaving the other unscathed. That is why organizations should know what to do before, during, and after a tornado.
Darkening Skies: Prepare Now for the Threat of a Tornado
Tornado season is considered to start in March and end in June, and this season is already off to a devastating start. However, storms with the potential for tornadoes can happen any time of year. And while many believe these happen mainly in the Central Plains states, known as Tornado Alley, major tornados have been documented all over the country.
No matter where they are located or what time of year it is, organizations need to be prepared by implementing and continually updating their Emergency Action Plan (EAP). The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides an online eTool that allows organizations to build their own plan that covers a variety of emergencies, including tornadoes.
Key Pieces of a Tornado Preparedness Plan
Identify a safe area in your buildings or a shelter. OSHA suggests the following when determining a safe place:
- Seek a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible
- Stay away from doors, windows and outside walls
- Stay in the center of the room, and avoid corners because they attract debris
- Seek rooms constructed with reinforced concrete, brick, or block with no windows and a heavy concrete floor or roof system overhead
- Avoid auditoriums, cafeterias, and gymnasiums that have flat, wide-span roofs
Have a disaster preparedness kit. Among other items, these kits could include a hatchet or cutting tool to help clear debris, shoes, water, weather radio, and fresh batteries. Also, consider emergency kits for the vehicles in your fleet in the event your drivers are caught in a storm.
Know your local warning system. You should be able to recognize the siren of your community warning system. Sign up for emergency alerts from the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) system, the Emergency Alert System (EAS), and the NOAA Weather Radio (NWR).
- Watch vs Warning - A watch means the conditions are favorable for a tornado to form. A warning means rotation has been verified or a funnel cloud has been identified and you should seek shelter immediately.
Train employees and complete tornado drills regularly. Training for employees should include the warning system, what to do, and where to go. Drivers should also be trained on what to do if they are caught in a tornado while operating a vehicle.
Consider implementing vehicle telematics. Vehicle telematics can help add another level of protection, from locating vehicles that are stranded through GPS technology to getting vehicle health alerts. PHLYTRAC is a no-cost telematics solution provided to PHLY auto insurance clients.
When the Skies Fall: Staying Safe During a Tornado
There are several signs of an oncoming tornado, including a greenish sky, large hail, and even a roaring noise like an oncoming train. The most recognizable element is the churning clouds that suddenly drop to the ground, spinning up debris. These funnel clouds can be thin columns or miles wide. Be ready to take action if you are caught in an oncoming tornado.
Get to your safe room or shelter immediately. Be sure to grab your disaster kit if it is not already in the room. Stay away from windows, auditoriums, and upper floors.
If possible, stay up to date with reports from EAS, NOAA Weather Radio, or local alerting systems. Make sure a battery-operated weather radio is available or use smartphone apps if phones are charged.
If you're in a vehicle, do not try to outrun a tornado. Drivers should find shelter immediately if possible. If the driver can't get to a shelter, find a safe area to park, leave the engine running and seatbelt buckled. Put your head down below the windows and cover your head with your hands and a blanket or jacket if possible.
If outside, get to a shelter or sturdy building. If unable to get to a building, find a low-lying area such as a ditch and lie flat, covering your head and neck with your arms and a blanket or jacket. Stay away from bridges or overpasses.
As the Skies Clear: Staying Safe After a Tornado
The hours after a tornado can be equally as dangerous so it's important to stay alert and remember to keep yourself and others safe while checking on employees and surveying damages.
Contact emergency services if anyone is injured or in need of assistance.
Continue to monitor weather reports and follow instructions from local authorities.
Activate your Business Continuity and Emergency Response Plans. Having these plans ready to go will help guide your organization in responding and recovering from disasters. Online tools are available to help with this important planning.
When safe to do so, begin documenting damages to buildings and other property. Take pictures and make notes of what is damaged or missing. Attempt to mitigate further damages by using tarps or other mitigating measures.
Be safe during clean-up and while using equipment such as generators. Wear appropriate clothing such as thick-soled shoes, long pants, and work gloves. Be mindful of fuel-powered generators as they can produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
While these powerful forces of nature can be erratic and terrifying, creating a plan, employing that plan, and responding to the aftermath, can help your organization survive the storm.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2021
A SPECIAL ALERT for Auto Insurance Customers
Across the nation, law enforcement is reporting a dramatic increase in the theft of catalytic converters
from personal vehicles. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), there were fewer than
1,300 such thefts reported in 2018. That number jumped to more than 14,000 in 2020.
We want to make you aware of this emerging trend and share some tips on how you can help protect your catalytic converter from theft.
What is the Catalytic Converter? The catalytic converter is a device that helps control your vehicle’s
emissions, by converting hazardous exhaust to less harmful gasses. It’s part of your exhaust system, and
usually located between the engine and your muffler. Catalytic converters contain precious metals, which
thieves can sell to scrap metal recyclers.
Are some types of vehicles more susceptible to catalytic converter theft? Hybrid vehicles, trucks
and SUVs are popular targets. Because a hybrid car doesn’t use the gas engine as often, the catalytic
converter retains more of its precious metals. Trucks and SUVs can also be targets as it’s easier for
thieves to slide underneath the vehicle where the converter is located.
What can I do to help prevent the theft of my catalytic converter?
• If you have a home garage, park your car inside and keep the garage door shut. If you can’t park
inside, install motion sensing lights in your driveway.
• No home garage? Consider a parking garage or other type of secured parking area. When garages
are not an option, park in locations that are well-lit, highly visible and/or have security cameras, all
of which may help dissuade would-be thieves.
• If you have a high-riding vehicle (truck, SUV) back into parking spaces near lower profile cars,
fences, bushes or other obstacles to make it more difficult to access underneath.
• If you have a car alarm, set it to respond to vibrations.
• Several specialized clamps and shields are now on the market to protect catalytic converters. Talk
with a trusted mechanic or dealership to determine if one is right for your vehicle(s).
• Talk to your local body shop about etching your vehicle’s VIN on the catalytic converter. VIN
etching can help police identify the owner, aid in a criminal investigation, and alert metal recyclers
that the catalytic converter may have been stolen.
What should I do if my catalytic converter is stolen?
Report the theft to the police and then contact your insurance company. You may be covered
for the theft if you carry comprehensive coverage on the vehicle.
Catalytic converter thefts are a growing issue, but with some simple steps you can
better avoid becoming a victim.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2021
What is covered by a basic auto insurance policy?
Understand the coverage for your car
While different states have different mandates for auto insurance, most basic car policies consist of six types of coverage. Here's what you need to know about each.
While different states mandate different types of insurance and there are several additional options (such as gap insurance) available, most basic auto policies consist of: bodily injury liability, personal injury protection, property damage liability, collision, comprehensive and uninsured/underinsured motorist.
Note that each type of coverage is priced separately, so there is variability in policy limits and pricing.
Bodily injury liability
Bodily injury liability coverage applies to injuries that you, the designated driver or policyholder, cause to someone else. You and family members listed on the policy are also covered when driving someone else’s car with their permission.
It’s very important to have enough liability insurance, because if you are involved in a serious accident, you may be sued for a large sum of money. It's recommended that policyholders buy more than the state-required minimum liability insurance, enough to protect assets such as your home and savings.
Medical payments or personal injury protection (PIP)
This coverage pays for the treatment of injuries to the driver and passengers of the policyholder's car. At its broadest, PIP can cover medical payments, lost wages and the cost of replacing services normally performed by someone injured in an auto accident. It may also cover funeral costs.
Property damage liability
This coverage pays for damage you (or someone driving the car with your permission) may cause to someone else's property. Usually, this means damage to someone else’s car, but it also includes damage to lamp posts, telephone poles, fences, buildings or other structures your car hit.
Collision coverage pays for damage to your car resulting from a collision with another car, an object, such as a tree or telephone pole, or as a result of flipping over (note that collisions with deer are covered under comprehensive). It also covers damage caused by potholes.
Collision coverage is generally sold with a separate deductible. Even if you are at fault for the accident, your collision coverage will reimburse you for the costs of repairing your car, minus the deductible. If you're not at fault, your insurance company may try to recover the amount they paid you from the other driver’s insurance company and, if they are successful, you'll also be reimbursed for the deductible.
This coverage reimburses you for loss due to theft or damage caused by something other than a collision with another car or object. Comprehensive covers events such as fire, falling objects, missiles, explosion, earthquake, windstorm, hail, flood, vandalism, riot, or contact with animals such as birds or deer. It will also pay to repair your windshield if it is cracked or shattered.
Comprehensive insurance is usually sold with a separate deductible, although some insurers may offer the glass portion of the coverage without a deductible.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage
Underinsured motorist coverage reimburses you, a member of your family, or a designated driver if one of you is hit by an uninsured driver or a driver who doesn’t have sufficient insurance to pay for your total loss. This coverage also offers protection in the event a covered driver is the victim of a hit-and-run or if, as a pedestrian, you are struck by an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2021
In life, there is no worse place to be than when you feel like the ground beneath your feet is being swept away. These are those times when things you took for granted or the progress you made in life is suddenly obliterated, and your life as it existed, suddenly dematerializes before your eyes.
But it is for times like these that insurance companies exist. And although there is no way of escaping the emotional turmoil of a distressing event, insurance helps to ensure that, to a large extent, you don’t have to worry about the cost of replacing material goods that are lost, stolen, or damaged.
This is the central idea behind homeowner’s insurance: giving homeowners a sense of security. It is about making the future less unpredictable by giving you a cushion to help break your fall when unforeseen events happen. With proper insurance a person should never have to find themselves back to zero.
But this will only happen if an insurance policy is understood and allowed to work as it is meant to. Insurance policies, like physical goods with a warranty, come with their own set of usage guidelines. And an important part of those guidelines is what the policy can or cannot do.
The two main reasons why insurance policies sometimes appear to disappoint the expectations of a policyholder are the insured persons do not understand the limits of the policy or they violated its terms. This is the reason why homeowners often have problems with their homeowner’s insurance.
And one of the areas where homeowners have such problems is with homeowner’s insurance treatment of water damage. Homeowners often buy homeowner’s insurance with the belief that they are protected from water damage. But when a problem actually occurs they soon discover otherwise.
The issue here is that how homeowners define water damage is often in conflict with what a homeowner’s insurance policy means by water damage, explains AlltradeProperties.com. Resolving the differences in meanings and interpretations can help clear the confusion. So, does your homeowner’s insurance cover water damage?
The answer is yes and no.
Homeowner’s insurance and water damage
If you wake up to a flood inside your basement due to a ruptured water heater, how will homeowner’s insurance deal with this event? Most homeowner’s insurance policies will cover the cost of the damage caused by the leak. But this is not the case with every kind of water damage to your home.
As a rule, homeowner’s insurance only covers water damage, if the incident meets the following conditions:
- If the water comes from a source within your home
- If the water is released suddenly and accidentally
By these two rules, the standard homeowner’s insurance will provide the following:
- Dwelling coverage: It will offer compensation for any damage to the structures of your home if an internal water source malfunctions suddenly and accidentally, thereby causing damage to your home.
- Personal property coverage: If your personal belongings inside the home are also affected by the same incident, homeowner’s insurance will cover the cost of the damage.
However, there are specific types of water damage that homeowner’s insurance will not cover.
Water damage not covered by homeowner’s insurance
All kinds of water damage where the source of the water is not within the home and the water was not released suddenly and accidentally are not covered. This includes the following types of water damage:
- Water damage that results from poor maintenance
If you, the homeowner, failed to carry out proper inspections and due maintenance of the structures and systems in your home, any resulting water damage will not be covered by homeowner’s insurance. This is because even if the water comes from an internal source, the water was not released suddenly or accidentally. It was the result of neglect and could have been avoided.
- Water-backup from an outside sewer or drain
This kind of damage cannot be covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy because the water source does not come from a source within the home. So if a sewer in your property is blocked and sewage backs up into your toilet, even though the damage is inside the home, its source is outside and will not be covered by homeowner’s insurance.
Damage by floodwater, even though sudden, does not qualify for coverage by homeowner’s insurance because the water source does not come from inside the home. This includes water damage from storms, over-saturated grounds, and overflowing rivers, ponds, lakes, and oceans. All of these will not be covered by homeowner’s insurance.
- The cost of repairing or replacing a damaged appliance
Even though homeowner’s insurance may cover the cost of repairing water damage when the source is within the home and the water accidentally/suddenly released, it will not cover the cost of fixing the cause of the damage. In other words, the cost of fixing the ruptured water heater or broken washing machine will not be borne by the policy.
In order to get protection from these other sources or water damage, you either have to extend the protection offered by your homeowner’s insurance policy or buy additional insurance.