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Monday, March 15, 2010

Forecasters Predict Active 2010 Hurricane Season

Meteorologists are predicting an active 2010 hurricane season with above-normal threats on the U.S. coastline.

Hurricane Forecaster Joe Bastardi, with the Hurricane Center, said Wednesday that he predicts seven landfalls. Five will be hurricanes and two or three of the hurricanes will be major landfalls for the U.S.

Bastardi forecasts 16 to 18 tropical storms in total, 15 of which will likely be in the western Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico.

In a typical season, there are about 11 named storms, with only two or three impacting the coast of the United States.

The rapidly weakening El Nino, warmer ocean temperatures, weakening trade winds and higher humidity levels will all contribute to greater storm activity.

Funds raised for 2010 AIDS Walk

David Lorms, Farmers Insurance Agent, raised more than $250 for the March 14, 2010 AIDS Walk in Houston, TX.

Friday, March 12, 2010

David Lorms, Farmers Insurance Agent, donated $600 to the 2010 Senior Class of Waltrip High School for a Senior Breakfast, as part of a alcohol free graduation celebration. Pictured from l-r are: Lori Frodine (Dean of Instruction), Rebecca Medrano, Ariel Villarreal, Lorms, Eliza Porterfield, and Erica Palomo.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Follow the following tips to reduce your chances of being the victim of auto theft.

1. Always Take Your Keys. Never leave them in the car. Nearly 20% of all vehicles stolen had the keys in them.

2. Always Lock Your Car. Approximately 50% of all vehicles stolen were left unlocked.

3. Never Hide A Second Set of Key In Your Car. Extra keys can easily be found if a car thief takes time to look.

4. Park in Well-lighted Areas. Over half of all vehicle thefts occur at night.

5. Park in Attended Lots. Auto thieves do not like witnesses and prefer unattended parking lots.

6. If you Park in an attended lot, leave only the ignition/door key. If your trunk and glovebox use the same key as the door, have one of them changed. don't give the attendant easy access to your glovebox and trunk. Upon returning, check the tires, spare and battery to insure they are the same as those you had when you parked.

7. Never leave your car running,even if you will only be gone for a minute. Vehicles are commonly stolen at convenience stores, gas stations, ATM's, etc. Many vehicles are also stolen on cold mornings when the owner leaves the vehicle running to warm up. Leaving your key in an unattended motor vehicle is a crime in some states.

8. Completely close your car windows when parking. Don't make it any easier for the thief to enter your vehicle.

9. Don't Leave Valuables in Plain View. Don't make your car a more desirable target and attract thieves by leaving valuables in plain sight.

10. Park with With Your Wheels Turned towards the curb. Make your car tough to tow away. Wheels should also be turned to the side in driveways and parking lots.

11. If Your Vehicle is Rear-Wheel Drive, Back Into Your Driveway. Front-wheel drive vehicles should be parked front end first. On four-wheel drive vehicles the rear wheels sometimes lock, making them difficult to tow.

12. Always Use Your Emergency Brake When Parking. In addition to ensuring safety, using the emergency brake makes your car harder to tow.

13. If You Have a Garage, Use It. If you have a garage, take the time to use it rather than parking outside where your vehicle is more vulnerable.

14. When Parking in a Garage, Lock the Garage Door and Your Vehicle. By locking both the garage and vehicle doors, the chances of deterring a thief greatly improve.

15. Don't Leave the Registration or Title in Your Car. A car thief will use these to sell your stolen car. File the title at your home or office, and carry registration in your purse or wallet.

16. Disable Your Vehicle When Leaving it Unattended for an Extended Period. Remove the electronic ignition fuse, coil wire, rotor distributor, or otherwise disable your vehicle anytime thieves may have extended access to it.

17. Replace "T" shaped Door Locks With Straight Locks. Some vehicle doors have lock assemblies at window level that flare out in a knob or "T' shape. A thief can use various tools to gain access inside the vehicle, grab and pull the lock. Straight locks prevent this.

18. Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Stolen cars/parts are more easily traced when vehicle VIN numbers have been etched on car windows and major parts. IDstickers include VINs and can assist police in identifying your vehicle in the event that it is stolen.

19. Engrave Expensive Accessories. Engrave personal I.D. numbers on car stereos, cellular phones, etc., so the thief will have difficulty disposing of them. Do the same for car by using an IDsticker and VIN etching.

20. Drop Business Cards, Address Labels, or Other I.D. Inside Vehicle Doors. Car thieves usually alter vehicle identification numbers. By marking your vehicle a much as possible, you assist police in identifying your car.

21. Ignition Kill Switch. Splice an inexpensive toggle switch into your ignition wire or to your starter. The trick is hiding the switch well. Keypads, pressure pads and more expensive "Immobilizes" and "Passkeys" can also be used.

22. Fuel Kill Switch. The valve that halts the fuel supply is closed.

23. Visible Steering Wheel Lock. Prevents the steering wheel from being turned.

24. Floorboard Locks. Devices that disable the gas or brake pedal.

25. Gearshift Locks. Disables shifting of the transmission.

26. Tire/Wheel Locks. Prevents the vehicle from moving.

27. Hood Locks. Prevents the thief from gaining access to your security system and battery.

28. Armored Collar Around the Steering Column. Protects the column and ignition.

29. Alarms. Loud warnings sound when doors/hood/trunk are opened. Optional sensors include glass breakage, motion, tampering and towing. Panic buttons, back-up batteries, flashing parking lights or headlights, and automatic engine disable features are also recommended.

30. Vehicle Tracking. Transmitter hidden in car enables police to track car. IDsticker enables police and citizens to identify stolen car.

31. Be suspicious of any deal that sound too good to be true.

32. When buying from a private individual, make sure the title and registration match the name and address of the person selling the car.

33. Be cautious of a seller with no fixed address of employment or phone number.

34. Ask the seller for references about past financing and insurance on the vehicle. Verify the information with the bank, finance company, or agent.

35. Ensure the vehicle identification number (VIN) plate on the automobile dash is present, secure, and has no loose rivets. Check to see if there is an IDsticker in the glove box that matches VIN on dashboard.

36. Ensure that the VIN plate has not been repainted and the numbers stamped in the plate appear to be original factory numbers.

37. Ensure the VIN plate rivets are original. All 1970 and newer automobiles produced in North America have stainless steel "rosette" rivets with six petals and a hole inside the middle. They are difficult to scratch with a knife.

38. Thieves may remove the VIN plate and replace it with one from a similar wrecked vehicle. If in doubt about plate authenticity,check with a new car dealer who handles the same model or contact a law enforcement agency.

39. The VIN on the dash must match the vin on the registration, title and federal safety inspection sticker on the drivers door.

40. If the VIN plate is scratched, bent or missing rivets, tampering may have occurred.

41. Make sure the federal safety inspection sticker, located on the driver's door or door jamb, is securely in place and none of the numbers appear to be tampered with.

42. Use special license plate locking screws to make it hard for thieves to remove your license plate during a robbery.

43. An excessively loose ignition switch may indicate tampering. Check the switch for chisel or pull marks.

44. Be wary of a fresh paint job on a newer vehicle. This may indicate an attempt to change the car's identity.

45. Check the inspection and license plate stickers to be sure they are current and issued by the same state.

46. If the seller provides you with only re-made keys, not original manufacturer's keys, for a newer model car, be suspicious.

47. Titles and registrations are frequently counterfeited. Therefore, demand the title before paying, and make sure it matches the registration. By completing all paperwork at the time of sale, you avoid giving the thief extra time to obtain fraudulent documents.

48. Question the seller if the registration was recently issued on an older vehicle.

49. Compare the engine identification numbers with all other numbers to ensure a match.

50. Be cautious of new license plates on an old car, or new plate bolts on an older plate

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

National Flood Insurance Program Temporarily Restored

The U.S. Senate last night passed legislation that includes an extension of the federal flood insurance program until March 28. President Obama has signed the measure.

The extension means that the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which has been unable to issue policies since its authorization expired at midnight on Feb. 28, should be able to again start issuing new and renewal policies. NFIP issued a memo on Feb. 26 that included guidelines for operations during a hiatus. However, the agency has not yet released any follow-up guidance for insurers or agents following this reauthorization.

The several days' hiatus did not affect NFIP claims paying. The program insures more than 5 million properties.

The emergency legislation reauthorizing funding for the flood program was part of a larger $10 billion bill dealing with unemployment insurance, subsidies for COBRA benefits, transportation projects and several other federal programs.

The legislation had been held up by Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., who objected that it did not address funding. Supporters noted that as emergency legislation, it was exempt from the "pay-as-you-go" law. Bunning eventually agreed to lift his hold after he offered an amendment on funding, which was defeated. The unemployment benefits legislation with the flood insurance reauthorization then passed with a bipartisan vote of 79-19.

The NFIP sunset caused delays for some consumers waiting to close on the sale of a property within a flood hazard area.

While no new policies could be issued during the lapse in authorization, consumers with current policies remained covered by the federal program, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

This short-term extension is itself an extension of a previous emergency authorization of NFIP. In December, the Senate extended it to Feb. 28.

Last Thursday, the House passed the bill addressing the expiring federal programs, but Bunning's opposition kept the Senate from advancing the legislation before the NFIP's Feb. 28 deadline.

Congress has been working on longer-term legislation to authorize NFIP for up to five years, which would be welcomed by the insurance industry.

"We applaud the Senate for recognizing the urgency in extending the National Flood Insurance Program," said David Sampson, president and CEO of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI). "This vitally important program protects over five million families across the country. The recent debate in Congress underscores the need to bring greater certainty and stability to the flood program in 2010 and advance a long-term extension that ensures the program's fiscal soundness."

Monday, March 1, 2010

Flood Insurance Program Closed; No Policies Until Senate Votes

Insurance agents with customers waiting to be covered in the federal flood insurance program should tell those customers about the program’s suspension, an insurance expert is advising.

As reported by Insurance Journal, the program could be in limbo for about a week while the Senate finds a way to vote on its extension over the objections of Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will not be able to issue new policies, increase coverage, approve renewal policies or pay claims until Congress approves reauthorization.

Generally agents should not be facing an errors and omissions (E&O) exposure since the NFIP is the principal source for flood coverage and its closure, expected to be temporary, is beyond agents’ control, according to Christopher J. Boggs, director of the Insurance Journal Academy of Insurance.

“If you can’t get coverage from what is essentially the main source that provides it, I really don’t see an issue. Now, that could change if the agent doesn’t tell the insured about the problem and something happens,” says Boggs.

If, however, it looks like there is going to be a long delay in the return of the program, Boggs says agents might want to discuss alternative programs such as Lloyd’s of London with their insureds.

The premium will likely be much higher for any alternative program than it is through NFIP, but it’s not a bad idea for an agency to have in its file that coverage was offered but denied, according to Boggs.

Another concern is excess flood policies and Difference in Conditions (DIC) coverages. Both of these forms generally have a deductible equal to the amount available through the NFIP when the structure is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). This could leave an insured with a major out-of-pocket expense, according to Boggs.

“So here, too, the agent should at least offer and get the denial in the file,” he advises.