Brier Grieves August 22, 2017 No Comments

Company Car Insurance Tip: Avoid Negligent Entrustment

Automobile accidents are an expensive liability for companies that rely on the use of vehicles for their business. That risk has increased in recent years, mainly due to distracted driving and a legal concept called negligent entrustment.

Negligent entrustment occurs when an employer is held liable for negligence in choosing an employee to operate a dangerous instrument, usually a vehicle. An employer can be found negligent if both of the following situations occur:

  1. A driver becomes injured while driving for company business, causes injury to a third party or damages physical property.
  2. The employer knew, or should have known, not to trust the vehicle to the driver or that the vehicle was unsafe.

If a driver is working within the scope of his or her job duties and has permission to use a company vehicle, it is presumed that the employer has trusted the driver with the vehicle. The following can be used to prove a finding of negligence:

  • An investigation of the accident scene
  • Interviews with the drivers and witnesses
  • Other applicable evidence that includes citations issued to the drivers

Companies must be able to show that they took all possible precautions to prevent accidents. If not, the actions they did or did not take might be construed as negligent entrustment.

Liability Coverage is Not Sufficient

General liability policies do not offer coverage for incidents of negligent entrustment. Although business auto policies do not exclude negligent entrustment, coverage may not be sufficient if an employee is involved in a harmful accident. Juries often award the plaintiff punitive damages in excess of any compensatory damages resulting from negligent entrustment.

How to Avoid Negligent Entrustment

Reduce exposure to negligent entrustment lawsuits by adhering to the following best practices:

  • Prescreen all individuals granted permission to drive for company business. Review their driving records annually.
  • Provide regularly scheduled driver reviews and comprehensive training sessions.
  • Maintain company vehicles to ensure that they meet strict safety standards.
  • Provide post-accident reviews and training on how the accident could have been avoided.
  • Put clear safety policies in writing to minimize risks. Follow all OSHA guidelines as well as guidelines specific to your business.
  • Define your permission policy. Anyone with permission to drive a vehicle for company business is classified as an insured on a company policy. That is why it is important to define your permission policy in a way that ensures flexibility but isn’t too broad.
  • Regularly enforce drug and alcohol policies.
  • Enforce a zero tolerance policy for driver misconduct.

By taking the aforementioned precautions, you’ll minimize the risk of your employees creating a situation in which your company is found liable. Although commercial auto insurance can minimize some liability risks, more advanced business and umbrella policies can protect against additional risks.

Brier Grieves Insurance can help you choose an auto insurance policy that is best for your business. Contact us for more information on how you can reduce your risk of negligent entrustment liability.

Brier Grieves August 16, 2017 No Comments

Homeowners Insurance, Explained: What You Need To Know

Choosing an insurance policy of any kind can be an overwhelming process. Not only can coverage options be difficult to understand, but because many are so similar and each have their pros and cons, finding one that truly fits your needs can feel like a fool’s errand. If you’re looking into the types of homeowners insurance options available to you but are finding you’re a bit overwhelmed, our brief guide can help clear up some confusion and may give you a better idea of what kind of homeowners insurance policy will work best for you.

In terms of standard policies, there are actually eight different types of homeowners insurance. They’re often referred to as “HO-1” through “HO-8.” While that may make it easier for insurers to keep track of, it doesn’t do much to inform homeowners of what they’re getting. Each of these types of homeowners insurance covers different situations, or perils. Some are very basic, covering only damages to your home’s structure or your belongings. Other plans may include liability insurance or may be geared specifically towards those who rent or own an older home.

To add to the confusion, some types of homeowners insurance policies mention only the perils not covered by the plan. But other policies won’t mention situations that aren’t covered. This explains why so many people operate under the assumption that flood damage will be included in their policies. Unfortunately, those situations require a separate policy completely. That’s why it’s so important to understand the terms of your agreement and ask your insurance agency to clarify anything you aren’t sure about.

Here’s what may be covered in your homeowners insurance policy.

  • Dwelling coverage: This refers to protection for your home’s structure (i.e., floors, walls, ceilings, built-in appliances, attached buildings). In situations involving fire, theft, vandalism, explosion, hail, wind, smoke, lightning, or volcanic eruption (believe it or not), even the most basic plans will cover you and can help rebuild the home you’ve lost due to these disasters.
  • Contents coverage: In a similar fashion, this part of your policy protects the belongings (such as furniture and clothing) in your home, should one of the aforementioned incidents occur. You’d receive compensation to cover the value of the items you lost as a result.
  • Personal liability: Some plans, but not all, may help cover you in case of bodily injury. This pertains to situations wherein you have a guest staying on your property. Be sure to read the fine print about whether it’s outlined in your own policy, should you want this kind of protection to be included.

Here’s what’s included only in certain or additional policies.
Some policies provide coverage for incidents involving falling objects, snow/ice weight, freezing, electrical currents, earthquakes, war, nuclear hazards, collapse, governmental action, mold, smog, pests, neglect, or water damage. But you may require a higher-level policy or an additional plan to get this type of coverage. If these incidents are of concern to you or are common in your area, you’ll want to talk to your insurer about your options.

Unfortunately, purchasing homeowners insurance is never going to be totally straightforward. You’ll have to weigh the positives and negatives of each kind of plan before moving forward. But most importantly, you need to have a thorough understanding of the plans available to you. The worst thing you can do is to simply pick a policy just because it’s the cheapest one or because you want to get the process over with. Make sure your insurance agent takes the time to explain the finer points of your plan to you and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification when needed.

Brier Grieves August 14, 2017 No Comments

4 Home Insurance Tips for Remodeling

So it’s finally time to go ahead with all of your home renovation plans. The day you’ve been waiting for! It’s easy to be excited, but before you start with your project it’s important not to forget about your homeowners insurance. As it turns out, you need to reevaluate your home insurance needs both during and after the renovations because the new changes you make may not be covered under your current insurance policy.

The four biggest factors that influence the cost of different homeowners insurance solutions are the estimated cost to rebuild your home if it were destroyed, your home’s age, the neighborhood’s fire protection rating, and your personal claim history. With these details in mind, you need to develop a plan that works with both your renovations and insurance plan in mind.

Here are four home insurance tips for remodeling.

  1. Check to make sure your contractor is insured – If you’re working with a contractor, make sure to ask for a copy of their general liability insurance. This means that even if there is an accident in your home, you won’t be liable for damages.
  2. See if you qualify for a discount – Some home renovations, such as installing a security alarm, a fire protection system, or even a metal roof may actually make you eligible for a discount on your current insurance policy. Check with your insurance agency before you make your final decisions as this potential deduction may make you change your mind on some aspects of the remodel.
  3. Keep everything – You need to keep a paper trail of everything so you can update your policy once the renovations are complete. Keep all the invoices, bids, estimates, and receipts so you’ll have documentation of everything if your insurance company needs it for any reason.
  4. Schedule a personal insurance review after the project is done – It’s always a good idea to see if your remodel has in any way changed your plan’s coverage. So just to be safe, make sure you complete a walk through of your home to reevaluate your possessions and your home’s dwelling value.

As fun as it can be, make sure to consider your home insurance policy before you start your renovations. It’s far better to be safe rather than sorry! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact one of our professionals for advice today.

Brier Grieves August 10, 2017 No Comments

4 Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Auto Insurance Plan

Insurance of any kind is interesting. It is something we always hope to have but never want to use. This is because we want to make sure we’re covered if and when the worst happens. But if you’re lucky, you won’t ever have to file a claim.

This is especially true with auto insurance, considering that on average, a driver will have an auto accident claim to file only once every 17.9 years. But in order to make sure you are adequately covered with the right kind of insurance plan, there are a few things to consider before you pick your amount of coverage. Here are some factors to keep in mind when choosing the right auto insurance policy for you.

Major accident coverage
While it may not be pleasant to think about, you never want to ignore the worst-case scenario when choosing a plan. Remember, you don’t buy automobile insurance to protect others, you buy it to protect yourself. You never know how someone else will act on the road and if any of the other drivers are intoxicated in any way. Even though you may not have to use your policy if the accident wasn’t deemed your fault, it is crucial to have it as a fail-safe option to protect yourself.

Personal injury
It goes without saying that you always want to put the safety of your family before anything else. Automobile insurance can provide additional coverage that is not part of your health insurance policy in case you or anyone else is severely injured in an accident.

Quality and age of your vehicle
Simply put, newer cars have less of a chance of breaking down and needing hefty repairs. However, if you have an older car, consider an auto insurance policy to cover these excess costs as chances are your plan can cover everything and not require any out of pocket expenses when you need to be towed.

Becoming stranded
You never know what could happen — your tires could blow out while you’re on a country road or your battery could die in a grocery store parking lot. This is where a mobile repair service can come and help you, but there will be a hefty expense if you aren’t insured. You may want to choose a plan that gives you ample coverage in case of situations like these.

Simply take these four factors into consideration when choosing between different auto insurance policies. Once you do, you can rest easy knowing you are insured in case anything bad happens on the road.

Brier Grieves August 8, 2017 No Comments

Wire Fraud in Real Estate

No industry is exempt from cyber crime, and the real estate industry has become a common target. As hackers devise plans to obtain sensitive information about real estate transactions, real estate professionals need to take particular interest in cyber security to protect their clients and themselves from wire fraud.

What is Wire Fraud?

In instances of wire fraud, a common ploy involves hackers breaking into a real estate agent’s email account to obtain details about upcoming transactions. Once the hackers have all the information they need, they send an email to the buyer, pretending to be the agent or a representative of the title company.

In an email to the buyer, the hackers state that there has been a change in the closing instructions and that the buyer needs to follow new wire instructions listed in the email. If a buyer falls victim to the scam and wires money to the fraudulent account, they’re unlikely to see the money again.

Red Flags

A potential indicator of wire fraud is an email that makes any reference to a Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) wire transfer, which is sent via the SWIFT international payment network and indicates an overseas destination for the funds.

However, since the emails tend to include detailed information pertaining to the transaction—due to the perpetrator having access to the agent’s email account—many people make the mistake of assuming the email is from a legitimate source. The email addresses often appear to be legitimate, either because the hacker has managed to create a fake email account using the name of the real estate company or because they’ve hacked the agent’s actual email account.

How to Avoid It

Wire fraud is one of many types of online fraud targeting real estate professionals and their clients. To prevent cyber crime from occurring, every party involved in a real estate transaction needs to implement and follow a series of security measures that include the following:

  • Never send wire transfer information, or any type of sensitive information, via email. This includes all types of financial information, not just wire instructions.
  • If you’re a real estate professional, inform clients about your email and communication practices, and explain that you will never expect them to send sensitive information via email.
  • If wiring funds, first contact the recipient using a verified phone number to confirm that the wiring information is accurate. The phone number should be obtained by a reliable source—email is not one of them.
  • If email is the only method available for sending information about a transaction, make sure it is encrypted.
  • Delete old emails regularly, as they may reveal information that hackers can use.
  • Change usernames and passwords on a regular basis, and make sure that they’re difficult to guess.
  • Make sure anti-virus technology is up to date, and that firewalls are installed and working.
  • Never open suspicious emails. If the email has already been opened, never click on any links in the email, open any attachments or reply to the email.

If You’ve Been Hacked

Take the following steps if you suspect that your email, or any type of account, has been hacked:

  • Immediately change all usernames and passwords associated with any account that may have been compromised.
  • Contact anyone who may have been exposed to the attack so they too can change their usernames and passwords. Remind them to avoid complying with any requests for financial information that come from an unverified source.
  • Report fraudulent activity to the FBI via the Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov/default.aspx. Also contact the state or local realtor association, which will alert others to the suspicious activity.

Contact Brier Grieves Agency today for more information on avoiding real estate fraud and other types of cyber crime.