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Wednesday, January 12, 2011  by WebSolutions

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Identity Fraud

Tuesday, August 3, 2010  by WebSolutions

We are pleased to announce that Peerless Insurance now offers a new homeowners’ policy endorsement to help you in the event you become the victim of identity fraud.

Protect yourself with our Identity Fraud Expenses* Coverage Endorsement.

We are pleased to announce that an optional Identity Fraud Expenses Coverage Endorsement is available for attachment to your Peerless Insurance homeowners' policy. When you purchase the optional endorsement, it provides up to $15,000 in coverage to reimburse you for expenses* made necessary to restore your credit history if you become a victim of identity fraud.

Subject to the endorsement provisions, coverage is provided for the following:

  • Costs for notarizing affidavits or similar documents attesting to fraud required by financial institutions or similar credit grantors or credit agencies.
  • Costs for certified mail to law enforcement agencies, credit agencies, financial institutions or similar credit grantors.
  • Actual loss of earnings (but not loss of other income) resulting from time taken off work to complete fraud affidavits, meet with or talk to law enforcement agencies, credit agencies and/or legal counsel, up to a maximum payment of $500 per week for a maximum period of up to four weeks.
  • Loan application fees for re-applying for a loan or loans when the original application is rejected solely because the lender received incorrect credit information.
  • Attorney fees, incurred with our prior consent, for:
    - Defending lawsuits brought against an "insured" by merchants, financial institutions or their collection agencies;
    - Removing of any criminal or civil judgments wrongly entered against an "insured"; and
    - Challenging the accuracy or completeness of any information in a consumer credit report.
  • Reasonable charges incurred for long distance telephone calls to merchants, law enforcement agencies, financial institutions or similar credit grantors, or credit agencies to report or discuss an actual "identity fraud".

Please contact your independent agent for details and more information about our valuable optional Identity Fraud Expenses Coverage Endorsement.

*Special Note:
Optional Identity Fraud Expenses Coverage Endorsement is available with a limit of liability up to $15,000 per occurrence for covered reimbursable expenses. The coverage is subject to a $250 per occurrence deductible and certain provisions and exclusions. Loss or expenses not described in the coverage endorsement are not covered. This information only provides coverage highlights - it does NOT provide any coverage. If there are any conflicts between the contents of this page and the endorsement, the endorsement provisions apply. We reserve the right to change the coverage provisions described in this page without prior notice. If we do so, the changed provisions apply.

Peerless Insurance member underwriting companies:
Peerless Insurance Company (not licensed in New Jersey), Excelsior Insurance Company
The Netherlands Insurance Company Peerless Indemnity Insurance Company
Includes copyrighted material of Insurance Services Office, with its permission.
Copyright, Insurance Services Office, Inc., 2002.

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Before Going on Vacation

Wednesday, July 21, 2010  by WebSolutions

How can I secure my house or apartment while I'm away?

  • Create a lived-in look to deter burglars
  • Stop newspaper and mail deliveries
  • Ask a neighbor to turn lights on in the evening
  • Use a telephone answering machine or call forwarding to quiet ringing telephones
  • Make sure that all windows and doors are locked to make entry more difficult for intruders

If my home is burglarized or damaged by fire, are all of my possessions covered?

Under a standard homeowner's insurance policy for a single-family home, the contents of the home are covered for 50% of the amount of insurance on the dwelling ($50,000 of contents coverage on a house insured for $100,000). A renter's policy is written for a specified dollar amount, based on what you own, to cover the loss of personal belongings in your apartment. There are special limits of liability on certain items, however.

Typically, there is a $100 or $200 limit on money and a $1,000 limit on securities, passports, tickets and stamps. There is generally a $1,000 limit on watercraft, trailers and outboard motors. For fine jewelry, furs and watches which are stolen, a usual limit of $1,000 is provided. And, there is typically a $2,000 limit for theft of guns, a $2,500 limit on theft of silverware, goldware and pewterware and a $2,500 limit on business property. A home inventory is important to have. The inventory is a list of your possessions, including makes, models and serial numbers. Photographs or videotape of your belongings are other ways of recording what you own. These records should be kept in a safe place away from the house or apartment so they would not be lost in the event of a fire.

What if the items I take with me on vacation are stolen?

Your belongings are generally covered by your homeowner's or renter's policy anywhere in the world, including items in storage facilities, suitcase contents and items lent to friends. However, coverage for property kept at a second home and business property away from home is limited.

We'll be traveling by car on vacation. Do you have any suggestions?

Check with our agency to be certain that your auto insurance is up to date. Make sure that your vehicle is in good running condition. While traveling, be sure your passengers wear seat belts and that young children ride in car seats at all times. Also, keep cameras, purses and other valuables with you while on vacation. Never leave them in the car.

I plan to rent a car for this trip. Is it necessary to buy the insurance the rental agency sells?

Maybe not. Prior to leaving on vacation, check with us to determine if your personal auto insurance policy covers damage to a rented vehicle. You may also want to contact your credit card company to ask if a rental car charged to your account is covered for damage. If you don't have either of these coverages, it may be wise to purchase insurance from the rental agency.

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Identity Theft

Wednesday, July 21, 2010  by WebSolutions

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that identity theft (also referred to as identity fraud) is now the number one complaint received from consumers. In fact, nationwide, there are hundreds of thousands of identity theft victims each year. The FTC also notes that despite our best protection efforts, skilled identity thieves use a variety of low and hi-tech methods to gain access to your personal information. Below are several methods identified by the FTC as common ways thieves can obtain and illegally use your personal information.

Identity thieves can get your information by:

  • Stealing your wallet containing your identification, credit and bank cards
  • Stealing your mail, including your bank and credit card statements and pre-approved credit offers
  • Completing a "change of address form" to divert your mail to another location
  • Rummaging through your trash or the trash of a business for personal data
  • Fraudulently obtaining your credit report by posing as your landlord or employer
  • Obtaining your business or personnel records for your place of employment
  • Accessing your personal information from an internet transaction
  • Buying your personal information from an "inside" source such as a store employee

Once identity thieves get your personal information, they use it to:

  • Obtain new credit cards in your name
  • Change your credit card mailing addresses and then run-up charges before you realize there is a problem
  • Establish phone and wireless service in your name
  • File for bankruptcy under your name to avoid paying debts incurred
  • Counterfeit checks or debit cards, and drain your bank accounts
  • Buy autos or merchandise by taking out loans in your name

The financial and emotional cost of Identity theft:

  • It's costly — on average, victims spend up to 175 hours and over $800 in out of pocket expenses (not including lost wages) to clear their names.
  • Victims experience frustration and anxiety because of the criminal act and the invasion of their privacy.
  • Victims feel a sense of guilt until their innocence is proven.
  • Those targeted feel an emotional need to both investigate the crime and catch the thieves .

To reduce your chances of being victimized by identity theft:

  • Never provide strangers with social security numbers, mother's maiden name or financial account numbers.
  • Guard your mail from theft, know when bills are supposed to arrive and check on them if they are late.
  • Secure credit cards, bank and telephone account passwords.
  • Replace cards showing your social security number with copies without it.
  • Carry only needed credit or identification cards.
  • Before discarding, shred anything containing information others could use as identification (e.g., charge receipts, credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, financial information of any type, etc.).
  • Add Identity Theft Expenses Coverage to your Peerless Insurance Homeowners policy (see Identity Fraud for specifics).

If you become a victim of identity theft:

  • Contact your creditors as soon as possible to notify them. Obtain and complete a copy of the FTC's standard Identity Theft Affidavit and provide it to your creditors. You can obtain a copy of the FTC affidavit by visiting: www.consumer.gov/idtheft or by calling the FTC Hotline toll-free at 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338).
  • Call the following major credit-reporting bureau fraud lines and have fraud alerts placed on your accounts.
    Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
    Experian: 1-888-397-3742
    TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
  • Report the theft to the police and, for advice about personal insurance, contact your independent insurance agent.

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Do You Have a Domestic Employee?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010  by WebSolutions

By Dan Corbin, CPCU, CIC, LUTC

Workers' compensation laws exist to protect employees who are injured while in the service of their employers. Homeowners, who are not otherwise deemed to be employers with regard to business activities, may find themselves subject to the Connecticut Workers' Compensation Law. Homeowners have a nonbusiness exposure for both domestic employees subject to the Workers' Compensation Law and domestic employees subject to tort law.

Subject Employment

When homeowners employ an individual to do any type of service in or about their private residence for more than 26 hours per week on a regular basis, a separate standard workers' compensation policy must be purchased, unless the homeowners policy is specifically endorsed to provide this coverage (which is very unusual). This will satisfy the obligation to compensate the employee with statutory benefits should an injury occur.

Some homeowners decide that they want to voluntarily protect employees who work 26 or less hours per week with benefits available under the Workers' Compensation Law. Again, this is possible with the purchase of a standard workers' compensation policy.

Domestic workers are classified for rating purposes as either inside (0913), outside (0912), occasional inside (0908) or occasional outside (0909). The basis for rating is not payroll, but the number of persons employed. Since domestic employers may voluntarily insure employees not subject to the law, an occasional classification is available to accommodate the diminished exposure represented by less time spent on the job. In order to be rated as occasional, a worker's employment cannot exceed more than half of the customary full-time hours. (The number of persons to be rated is based on the aggregate time for all occasional workers divided by the number of hours considered to be half of the customary full-time hours; including one for the remainder.)

The Jan. 1, 2007, Connecticut Workers' Compensation Insurance Plan rates are as follows:

  • (0913)-$603 per person, $703 min. premium
  • (0908)-$275 per person, $500 min. premium
  • (0912)-$650 per person, $500 min. premium
  • (0909)-$221 per person, $500 min. premium.

Minors

Connecticut and the federal government have extensive labor laws which govern the employment of minors. The Connecticut Department of Labor publishes a convenient brochure titled Checklist for the Employment of Minors. It may be obtained free-of-charge by writing to: Connecticut Department of Labor, Wage & Workplace Standards Division, 200 Folly Brook Blvd., Wethersfield, Conn. 06109-1114, or by telephone: (860) 566-7184. Also available online at:
http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/wgwkstnd/minors/wgminors.htm.

You also may obtain information from the department on the Internet at www.ctdol.state.ct.us/. Most homeowners would be surprised to discover that federal law prohibits minors under 16 from operating power-driven machinery, including lawn mowers. Connecticut's Labor Law does not have a restriction on a minor's use of lawn mowers, unless it is a riding reel lawn mower. Nevertheless, the more restrictive federal law would apply. Your advice to homeowners should be to avoid hiring minors under age 16 to mow their lawns.

Employers Liability

If the household employment does not involve domestic employees working more than 26 hours per week, then an injured employee who is not protected by the Workers' Compensation Law would retain the common law right to sue for injury damages. Though a judgment against the homeowner may include general (pain and suffering) damages, the outcome for the worker is much less certain than compensation under the Workers' Compensation Law. To prevail in a suit, the worker must overcome certain defenses available to the employer, proving that some wrong was committed against the worker.

A homeowner's employment of baby-sitters, painters, landscapers, caterers, house cleaners and various other types of casual employment creates the possibility of a lawsuit. Section II-Liability Coverages of a homeowners policy will provide defense against such a lawsuit as long as it is not related to a business activity; in which case it would necessitate the purchase of a standard workers' compensation policy. 11/05

PIA—your best source of information

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