Insurance Articles

Save More When You Bundle

Want to save money on your insurance? (Who doesn’t?) The best way to do that, especially as rates trend upwards, is to purchase your home and auto insurance from the same insurer. If you have a home policy from ERIE in addition to your auto insurance, you’ll earn a Multi-Policy Discount.

There are lots of other discounts available for your home and auto policies, too, like the Multi-Car Discount, Safe Driver Discount, Car Safety Equipment Discounts, Driver Training Discount, Fire and/or Burglary Alarm System Discount, Age of Insured Discount and more.

Give us a call today. We can help you review your current discounts and bundle your insurance, if you haven’t already, for an added discount. (518) 512-5247.

Guaranteed Replacement Cost: The Big Difference

When purchasing a home insurance policy, it’s important to buy enough coverage to protect yourself against financial loss if a catastrophe would occur.

Sixty-four percent of homes are undervalued, and potentially underinsured, by an average of 19 percent, according to Marshall & Swift/Boeckh, a California-based company that calculates residential building cost data. In the event of a total loss, you may be responsible for making up the difference out of pocket, an amount that can easily mean tens of thousands of dollars.

That’s why Erie Insurance offers Guaranteed Replacement Cost.* That one extra word — guaranteed — means you’ll be covered if your home is damaged or destroyed from a fire, tornado or other covered loss. You could rebuild your home after a major loss without worrying about depreciation, policy limits or insurance construction costs once you’ve repaired or replaced the damaged property.

The coverage is available with Erie Insurance’s home insurance policies. For more information, contact our agency today.

*Guaranteed Replacement Cost requires home improvements over $5,000 to be reported within 90 days and may be limited by a Functional Replacement Cost Loss Settlement endorsement. Coverage of costs to comply with laws or ordinances is subject to limits. Depreciation may be deducted until repair or replacement is made. Visit or talk to your ERIE Agent for more information.

Shop Local

Local food. Local theater. Local products. We’re paying more and more attention to things that come directly from our own communities. Why shouldn’t your business auto insurance agent be local, too?

Everyone hates feeling like a number, and we promise never to make you feel that way.

We’re local. We live here in the same community that you do. We understand the unique dangers that face our town: how Main Street curves sharply to the left, making it dangerous for high-profile vehicles, or how slippery that hill outside of town can be in the winter. Our understanding makes it easier for us to help you avoid the accident in the first place — or how to fix things afterwards. ERIE’s local claims employees will help you get you back on the road.

We also know how important your company’s vehicles are to your business’ success: without them you can’t visit clients, deliver goods and perform other critical functions.

Don’t chance your business’ success on an Agent who treats you like a number, or someone in a far-off city. Our agency has earned a place of honor in the communities we serve. Let us help you, here and now. When it comes to your insurance Agent, shop local. Call (518) 512-5247.

What Kind of Insurance Fits Your Business?

Businesses come in all shapes and sizes. We can help design the coverage that’s right for you, tailored to your needs.

Generally, most businesses need a combination of:

• Property insurance for the building, structure and other property you use to do business. 
• Liability insurance in case someone claims that your business caused him or her harm. Your liability insurance pays damages to third parties resulting from bodily injury or property damage for which your business is legally liable, up to the policy limits, as well as legal fees. It may also cover the medical bills of people injured by your business. 
• Commercial auto insurance for vehicles owned by your business. The insurance pays any costs to third parties resulting from bodily injury or property damage for which your business is legally liable, up to the policy limits. Depending on what kind of coverage you buy, the insurance may pay to repair or replace your vehicle because of damage resulting from accidents, theft, flooding and other events. 
• Workers’ compensation insurance for medical care and a portion of lost wages for an employee who is injured in the course of employment, regardless of who was at fault for the injury. (Not available in Ohio.) 
• Terrorism insurance, which is offered to owners of commercial property as mandated by the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, enacted by Congress in 2002. Insurance losses attributed to terrorist acts under these commercial policies are insured by private insurers and reinsured by the federal government.

In addition to these basic coverage's, we can help you select from optional coverage's available from Erie Insurance, like:

• A business catastrophe liability or umbrella policy that is designed to protect against catastrophic losses. For the typical business, the umbrella policy would provide protection over and above general liability and auto liability policies. 
• Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) that provides protection against claims brought by employees alleging discrimination, wrongful termination or harassment, including sexual harassment. 
• Other specialized liability insurance policies that are designed to meet specific needs of individual businesses. They include:
o Errors and Omissions Insurance (E&O)/Professional Liability Insurance
o Directors and Officers Liability Insurance (D&O)

To learn more, give us a call. (518) 512-5247

Have Questions about Your Home Insurance Claim? We Can Help 

If a severe storm has swept through your community and damaged your home, our agency is here to help.

You can file a homeowners insurance claim by contacting:
• Our agency; or
• One of ERIE's local offices.

You can also file the claim online. ERIE has adjusters available 24/7 – ready to help you. The sooner you report the loss, the faster we can get moving on your claim.

The claims process
After you’ve reported the loss, the following steps will take place:
• The loss report is assigned to a claims handler. 
• A property adjuster will contact you to confirm the facts of the loss. This may include an inspection of the damaged property. The adjuster will then determine what coverage may apply. 
• The adjuster or claims handler will continue to check on the progress of the claim and make every effort to complete the process efficiently. Some claims can be settled quickly. Others – especially those involving severe damages – may take longer. 
Protecting your home

When a storm damages your home, you should:

• Protect your home from further damage. Stop water from leaking by shutting off the valve, place buckets in rooms with water leaks, hang plastic over damaged areas to prevent water from leaking into your home or board up broken windows for example. 
• Record the damage done to your home. Make a list of what is damaged in your home. Include details when possible – such as the brand name, manufacturer, serial number and approximate price you paid. Organize your list by room. ERIE’s home inventory form can help you with this process. 
• Maintain a list of repair expenses. Keep track of the time you spend cleaning up or repairing your home after the claim. Also record any money you’ve spent on materials to temporarily fix the damage. It’s important that you don’t make any permanent repairs until your ERIE adjuster has seen the damage.

For more information, contact our agency by calling (518) 512-5247. On evenings, nights and weekends, call Erie Insurance’s claims service at (800) 367-3743.

College Student in Your Household? Check Your Insurance Coverage

If you’re helping one of your children go off to college for the first time, or return to college, we may be able to help you save some money and gain some extra protection. 
Here are four things to consider about insurance when a child enters college.
1. You could get a discount on your auto insurance. Because you’ll have one less driver living at home when your son or daughter goes off to school, your household might get a discount — as long as they don’t take a car along. If he or she does take a set of wheels, contact our agency. We can review your coverage to make sure your child is properly insured. 
2. Your homeowners insurance might extend to his or her belongings. Usually, the belongings of your child-turned-college-student will be covered by your homeowners insurance, but it’s best to be sure. If for some reason the coverage doesn’t extend, consider purchasing renters insurance. Students who live off campus may not be covered by their parents' homeowners policy and may need to purchase their own renters insurance.
3. Insurance can help in the most unexpected cases. Accidents happen — sometimes tragically. Extra liability coverage through a Personal Catastrophe Liability policy, commonly called an umbrella policy, can help protect you should a lawsuit ensue from a big mistake.

Most importantly, let our agency know of the changes happening in your household so we can double check your specific situation and coverage needs. Call us at (518) 512-5247.

R U Texting n Driving?

For as long as there’ve been cars, there’ve been distracted drivers. And that’s never been truer than now, with drivers facing temptation from Internet-enabled mobile phones, GPS devices, iPods and all the other electronics out there.

That said, one of the most dangerous distractions remains texting while driving, an activity that the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reports makes it 23 times more likely that a driver will crash.

With statistics like that, it’s no wonder states like Pennsylvania feel spurred to action. The commonwealth became the 37th state to ban texting while driving when it enacted Act 98 in March. This new law stipulates that anyone caught tapping out a message behind the wheel can be pulled over and fined $50.

The Keystone State joins the District of Columbia and nine other states within ERIE’s footprint — including Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin — to prohibit texting while driving.

The District of Columbia, Maryland and New York take it a step further by banning drivers from texting and talking with handheld devices.West Virginia is set to do the same by July 2012.

Smart moves

Research out there shows that these laws are smart moves. For instance, a recent study by the Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC) at the University of California, Berkeley, revealed that California’s 2008 prohibition on using handheld devices behind the wheel led to a direct 47 percent decrease in fatalities.

Even still, with more than 3,000 fatalities at the hands of distracted drivers in 2010 alone, there’s more work ahead. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an independent federal agency whose recommendations have led to the passage of many state and federal laws, advocates banning motorists from using all hand-held and hands-free devices while driving.

To get that message in front of Congress and the public, NTSB hosts, a resource where visitors can learn more about the dangers of distracted driving and take action. Give it a click to learn more about what you can do to keep the roads safe — especially if you reside in Ohio, the only state within ERIE’s territory without any prohibitions against using handheld devices while driving.

Trying to Save Money? Avoid the Five Biggest Insurance Mistakes

With nearly one in 10 Americans out of work, and others forced to make ends meet with less money, many people are looking for ways to cut costs.

There are many ways to save on home and auto insurance. Be careful, though, not to make mistakes that could result in your being dangerously underinsured.

“When money is tight, it’s extremely important to be financially protected against a catastrophe with the right amount and type of insurance,” said Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president and consumer spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). “By taking a few simple steps, it is possible to cut costs and still be protected should disaster strike.”

According to the I.I.I., these are the five biggest insurance mistakes that people often make:

1. Insuring a home for its market value rather than for the cost of rebuilding. When real estate prices go down, some homeowners may think they can reduce the amount of insurance on their home. Insurance is designed to cover the cost of rebuilding, not the sales price of the home. You should make sure that you have enough coverage to completely rebuild your home and replace your belongings. 

A better way to save: Raise your deductible. An increase from $500 to $1,000 could save you up to 25 percent on your premium payments.

2. Selecting an insurance company by price alone. It is important to choose a company with competitive prices, but also one that is financially sound and provides good customer service.

A better way to save: Check the financial health of a company with independent rating agencies. You should select an insurance company that will respond to your needs and handle claims fairly and efficiently.

Financially strong insurers like Erie Insurance have the financial wherewithal to ensure that  payment is made when it’s due. ERIE has an A.M. Best rating of A+ (superior) with a stable financial outlook. Additionally, ERIE ranks among the 50 top performing insurance companies, according to the Ward Group, which analyzes the financial performance of 3,000 property-casualty companies. ERIE has also won awards for customer satisfaction and claim service by independent organizations.

3. Dropping flood insurance. Damage from flooding is not covered under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. Many homeowners are unaware they are at risk for flooding. Coverage is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), as well as from some private insurance companies.  Erie Insurance offers coverage through American Bankers.

A better way to save: All types of homes, including condominiums, are eligible for flood insurance. You can even purchase flood insurance to protect your contents if you rent your home. It’s a good idea to start the process as soon as you can because most flood insurance policies have at least a 30-day waiting period before they take effect. If you’re already living in a flood zone area, look at mitigation efforts that can reduce your risk of flood damage. Before purchasing a home, check with the NFIP to determine if it’s in a flood zone; if so, consider a less risky area.

4. Only purchasing the legally required amount of liability coverage for your car. In today’s litigious society, buying only the minimum amount of liability coverage means you are more likely to have to make out-of-pocket payments — and those costs may be steep.

A better way to save: The insurance industry and consumer groups generally recommend a minimum of $100,000 of bodily injury liability protection per person and $300,000 per accident. Also, consider dropping collision and/or comprehensive coverage on older cars worth less than $1,000.

5. Neglecting to buy renters insurance. A renters policy covers your possessions and additional living expenses if you have to move out due to a disaster. Equally important, it provides liability protection in the event someone is injured in your home and decides to sue.

A better way to save: Look into multi-policy discounts. Buying several policies with the same insurer, such as renters, auto and life will generally provide savings. 

For more information about how you could save money on your insurance policies, contact our agency.  We can answer your questions and review your insurance coverage needs

Even Renters Need to Protect Their Homes

It may not be a house, but your apartment is still a home, filled with memories and personal belongings. The best way to keep them financially protected is with renters insurance.* (Your landlord’s insurance should cover any structural damage that might occur, but it won’t cover your personal things.) 

Most importantly, renters insurance includes protection against thieves. Since the burglary rate for renters is about 50 percent higher than for homeowners, according to the Insurance Information Institute, renters insurance is a worthy investment to consider. It also covers: 
• Personal property, wherever it may be. (If you go camping or traveling, your tent, luggage or other belongings will be financially protected). 
• Loss of use, which covers the additional living expenses you incur due to temporary relocation. 
• Personal liability for bodily injury, property damage or personal injury claims brought against you anywhere in the world. 
• Medical payments to others who are injured in an accident arising from your premises or personal activities. 
Want to know more? Give us a call. If you purchase ERIE's Tenantcover Policy, you may also be eligible for a discount on your ERIE auto insurance policy. (518) 512-5247.

*Coverage exclusions and limitations may apply. See policy for details.