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Monday, May 24, 2010

10 Smart Moves After A Car Accident

Tires squeal and you brace yourself for the inevitable sound of metal crunching. The actual accident is over in a few seconds, but what should you do afterwards? Here are 10 smart moves to make after you've been in a car accident.

1. Think safety first.
It's a given to think safety in a more serious crash, but the after affects of fender-benders can be dangerous too. While in many states, the law requires you to stop after a collision, it's important to pull out of any driving lanes, even if the traffic behind you is stopped. This is to avoid a secondary collision, as well as to not impede traffic flow.

If you are the front car in a collision, motion to the other driver and have him follow you to the closest spot where there's room for both of you to pull over safely. If you are parked in the breakdown lane, be sure to stay as far away from moving cars as possible as you exchange information and assess damage.

If you can't move your car out of traffic, stay in the car with your seat belt buckled and call 911. No matter where you are stopped, turn your hazard lights on or put out flares or an emergency triangle if it's safe to do so.

2. Check for injuries.
Even in a relatively minor collision, people can be hurt. First, look at yourself, in a mirror if possible. While your adrenaline will be flowing hard, stop and think about if any part of your body hurts or if you are dizzy, short of breath or have other symptoms of an injury. Once you decide you are okay, ask the others involved if they are hurt. If anyone is injured or even seems like they might be, call 911. Unless you have first aid training, don't move anyone who is injured unless they are at risk of further injuries because of their location.

3. Consider calling the police.
In many states, if no one is hurt, the cars involved are not blocking traffic and damage is under $1000, reporting the accident to the police is not required (New York and Massachusetts are two such places), but you may choose to make the call if you want a police report taken. If you think getting a report of the accident would be helpful in establishing fault or because you suspect fraud, then certainly make the call to request police assistance.

Sometimes, especially in cities where officers are busy responding to calls of injuries and lawbreakers, the police may not respond to this request for a minor accident. Even if they don't respond, you may be required to file a report yourself, if anyone is hurt or if the damage exceeds a certain amount. Check with your local police, Department of Motor Vehicles or insurance company to find out. Keep in mind though, that in many states, if a police report is filed, your insurance company will be notified of the accident, which could derail you if you have plans to keep the accident quiet, though not reporting it is illegal in many states.

4. Look for eyewitnesses.
Noting any eyewitnesses to the collision is a smart move, especially if there's any question of fault in the collision. Go to the eyewitnesses as quickly as possible to get the full name, street address and day and evening phone numbers for each witness. Even if no police report is taken, you can provide this info to your insurance company.

5. Make a plan if your car is being towed.
If the damage to your car is severe enough that it needs to be towed, take a few minutes to make a plan your next steps. Where do you want the car to be towed? Having it delivered to a dealer, mechanic or body shop you trust is ideal, even if you need to pay a bit because it's being towed further away. If you car is taken to the towing company's yard or other nearby location and you'll want it to go somewhere else later, you could end up paying for a second tow.

If your car is being towed, make sure to get all of your personal belongings out of it first. If these items are stolen, they won't be covered under your auto insurance, plus they may be things you need later.

6. Make notes.
In addition to the contact info of any eyewitnesses, take a moment to jot down the time of day as well as the street or highway where the collision occurred and the nearest cross-street or exit -- your insurance company will ask you for these details. It's also a good idea to note the road conditions, the weather, the speed limit sign, traffic signals and accident results, such as skid marks, since your insurance company may ask that information as well.

7. Take pictures.
If you have a camera, even in a cell-phone, take pictures of the damage (or lack of it) of all the cars involved, as well as any pictures that can help the insurance company understand how the accident occurred and possibly determine fault or fraud. If possible, photograph each car by standing at an angle from each wheel, so one side and either the front or rear of the car is visible in the frame. Take close-up pictures of any vehicle damage (from this accident or not) and, if appropriate, of any people involved. You might also want to photograph the items you took notes on.

8. Double check the other party's information.
Everyone knows to exchange information, but do so by writing down the info yourself by copying it from the person's driver's license and insurance card versus having them write it down for you. As you copy the info, ask if this is the person's current address and also compare the vehicle description, including the VIN, from the insurance card to the car itself. Make note of any discrepancies.

9. Call your insurance company.
Even in a fender bender with minimal damage, you are going to want to call your insurance company (and, in some states, you may be required to do so). Repair costs for even a new bumper and taillight can easily exceed a low deductible, and even seemingly minor damage to a car's exterior can reveal underlying damage once a body shop looks at the car more carefully. Be very cautious if you opt to try to handle the repair costs between the parties involved, check your state laws on this and decide in advance how to handle it if your car repair costs go up if they find more extensive damage once they have your car apart or if a person decides they are injured later.

10. Consider visiting a doctor.
Even if you are not seriously hurt, it may be wise to see a doctor within the day or so after the crash. Soreness and stiffness can be signs of a more serious injury and if they are, it should be diagnosed and treated promptly. While it's not right to take advantage of the system, it is appropriate to ensure that any medical issues that are a result of the accident are taken care of by the at-fault party. You don't want to wait until months later to discover the lingering problem you have is a result of the car accident.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Soiree Pelouse III: WONKA was a fundraiser that benefited Legacy Community Health Services, Houston GLBT Community and AssistHers.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Why should I buy life insurance?

Many financial experts consider life insurance the cornerstone of a sound financial plan. Yet many of us remain uninsured or underinsured. If you're wondering whether or not you should buy life insurance, ask yourself one question: "Would my death leave anyone in financial difficulty?" If your answer is yes, you may want to think about life insurance and how it may fit into your financial plans:

You're a two-income family
Does your family depend on two incomes to support your current lifestyle? If you died suddenly, could your family maintain its standard of living on your spouse's income alone? If not, life insurance may help to ensure that your plans for the future live on after you're gone.

You're a single parent
According to the Life Foundation® nearly four in ten single parents have no life insurance whatsoever, and many with coverage feel they need more.* As a single parent, you're it: the caregiver, breadwinner, cook, chauffeur, and so much more to your family. With all that's riding on you, life insurance may help to safeguard your children's financial future if you weren't there.

You're a small business owner
What would happen to your business if one of your partners or a key employee died tomorrow? Life insurance can be used to provide the surviving business owner(s) with the funds to buy the deceased owner's interest. Or if a key employee dies, life insurance payable to the company can provide the owner(s) with the financial flexibility needed to hire a replacement or work out an alternative arrangement.

Why might you want to buy life insurance? Because you have a mortgage, a small business, someone who depends on you, long-term financial goals or plan to send your kids to college. Life insurance can help fill the financial gap left in the event you are no longer there. Call me today to discuss your life insurance needs.

Note: Careful consideration should be given to the ownership and beneficiary arrangements of any life insurance purchased for business or estate purposes. You should consult with an attorney and other professional advisors.


Life insurance issued by Farmers New World Life Insurance Company, Mercer Island, WA 98040

Friday, May 14, 2010

How — and why — should I take a home inventory?

Would you be able to list all the possessions you've accumulated over the years if they were destroyed by a fire or other disaster? If your answer is no, you may want to consider doing a home inventory. It may help you get your insurance claim processed faster and make it easier to verify losses for your income tax return.

1. Make a list. Go room by room, starting with newer possessions. If you're just moving into your home, you could do a home inventory while you're unpacking.

3. Use a personal computer. Many financial software programs include a home inventory program that allows you to do a room-by-room accounting of your belongings. Or print out and complete Farmers Home Inventory Checklist and keep it in a safe, accessible place in the event you need to file a claim.

3. Take a picture or use a video camera. Save time: Take pictures or videotape the items in your home and make copies of the tape or DVD.

4. Whatever process you use, you'll probably want to keep at least one copy in a safe place away from your home and you should update it whenever you make a significant purchase.

You may want to consider purchasing a Personal Articles Floater to provide additional coverage for your valuables, such as jewelry, furs or fine arts, when their value is higher than the limits stated in your homeowners policy.

Call me: I can provide information that may help you decide whether your coverage is sufficient.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Farmers fights cancer with City of Hope

Farmers is proud to announce a new partnership with the City of Hope. In 2010 Farmers will be a national sponsor of the City of Hope Walk for Hope series to support the research and eradication of all women’s cancers.

Last year, Farmers was a local event sponsor for City of Hope’s Los Angeles Walk for Hope, and more than 100 Farmers employees walked and raised $12,000 for breast cancer research. This year, the Walk expands its reach to fight all women’s cancers, and Farmers will expand its sponsorship to seven additional cities: San Diego, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Chicago, Seattle and Washington D.C., opening the opportunity for agents and employees from around the country to become involved in a walk near them.

In its 16-year history, Walk for Hope has raised more than $29 million, and it’s the nation’s only series of walks that directly benefit research, treatment and education programs for cancers unique to women. Farmers has been a proud supporter of the City of Hope for many years, but this is the first year we’ve taken on the role of national Walk for Hope sponsor.

To learn more about Walk for Hope, visit, and to learn more about City of Hope visit

Avoid common car accidents

The sound of your vehicle colliding with another is not something you want to hear. A few preventive measures may help you reduce the chances of an accident. Here are two simple things you can do:

Look as far ahead as possible so you're more likely to see potentially dangerous situations in time to avoid them.
Keep a "space cushion" around your vehicle at all times.
The "3-second rule" may help you maintain safe space: When the vehicle ahead of you passes a certain point, such as a sign, count "one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three." This takes about 3 seconds. If you pass that certain point before you finish counting, you're following too closely. In bad weather you may want to allow a 4-second (or more) cushion.

Read on for some additional safety tips:

Avoid sudden swerving. Try to look far enough ahead to be aware of potential hazards. But if you need to swerve to avoid an object, such as an animal or vehicle in your path, turn the wheel smoothly and sparingly — turning only the amount you need to get around the object in the road. Then, without hard braking, slow down as quickly as possible. If you jerk suddenly, or turn too far, you could send the vehicle out of control, into a rollover or end up in another lane or run off the road.
You get a blow-out. If you've ever experienced the sudden loss of tire pressure you know it can be a very scary experience. Typically you're left with a vehicle that is difficult to control. Your instinct may be to slam on the brakes: Don't. A rapid slow down may make it even harder to maintain control. Instead try to ease off the accelerator gradually while continuing to drive as straight as you can. Once you have slowed the vehicle, ease over to the roadside and come to a full stop.
You're sliding on wet pavement. If your vehicle starts sliding on a wet road, turn your wheel in the direction of the skid. Look where you want to go rather than at the front of your vehicle. Your hands tend to follow your eyes and this may help you get your vehicle going straight again.
Your car suddenly accelerates.
Step on the brake pedal with both feet using firm, steady pressure. Do not pump the brakes.
Shift into neutral. Use the brakes to make a controlled stop by the side of the road.
If you're unable to put the vehicle in neutral, turn off the engine. This will cut off power assist to the steering wheel and brakes, but as long as the key is in the ignition, you should still be able to steer and brake. If you have an engine start/stop button, press it firmly for three seconds to turn the engine off. Do not tap it. If you have a conventional key ignition, turn the key to the ACC position. Do not remove the key from the ignition.

Bottom line: Stay focused, look as far ahead as possible and leave a good distance between you and other cars.

Sometimes, though, accidents happen, no matter how careful you are. Give me a call today. We can review your policy so you can be sure you have the coverage you want — just in case.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Car Insurance Tune-Up

5 Tips To Keep You Driving Safe
Posted: May 11, 2010
| By: Tom Torbjornsen, AOL Autos

We keep our cars tuned up, but what about our automobile insurance? An insurance policy is a personalized service contract that provides coverage for you and your family in the event of an accident. When you read your auto policy the language is anything but simple. And everyone knows it's not inexpensive! To regard auto insurance as a "necessary evil" to be purchased as cheap as possible is a foolish and ignorant approach to this very necessary aspect of driving an automobile. Based on our conversation, here's how to get the biggest "bang for your buck" when purchasing automobile insurance:

BUY AS HIGH A LIABILITY LIMIT AS YOU CAN AFFORD - This is the coverage that protects you in the event you get into an accident and are accused of negligence. Remember, a lawsuit can be brought against you despite your culpability - and damages sought in today's court actions seldom fall below six figures. Often the spouse of the injured party seeks more than $100,000 for "loss of services." This doesn't include the dollars requested for the injured party. Question... how far would your present policy go in responding to this kind of a suit? Be realistic, not ridiculous in determining the amount of liability you need. Most insurance companies will write liability coverage up to at least $500,000. Adding an umbrella liability policy in the amount of one, two, three million (or more depending on your situation) will go a long way in protecting you. Only buying $50,000 coverage? See how long that lasts you when you get the hospital bill from the party you hit for three or four weeks... oh, and I forgot about the "loss of services."

BUY SUPPLEMENTAL UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE - This is the coverage that protects you in the event you are involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist, or a motorist with low limits of liability insurance coverage. Let's say that you're involved in an accident resulting in serious injury to you, and possibly your passengers. No matter what the amount a court might award, if the negligent party has inadequate liability coverage and few assets, your award is of little value. The Supplemental Uninsured Motorist portion of your policy provides the liability coverage the other driver should have had up to the limit you carry on your policy.

CARRY HIGH DEDUCTIBLES ON YOUR PHYSICAL DAMAGE - Higher liability as well as Supplemental Uninsured Motorist coverage means higher premiums. A good way to help pay for this is to carry as high a deductible on your collision and comprehensive as you can reasonably afford. This brings the price of the premiums down.

CONSIDER DROPPING PHYSICAL DAMAGE ON OLDER VEHICLES - This is not an easy call. Typically, an insurance company charges less for collision and comprehensive on an older vehicle. In general, when a vehicle is six years old or more, it's worth considering this change. Things to take into consideration when trying to make this call are value of the vehicle, its condition, how much you drive it, and the policy charge for the coverage. At some point the charge for the coverage will not be worth what you could collect in the event of a loss. Never skimp on liability coverage in order to pay for less important physical damage coverage on a vehicle that is worth less than what the policy would pay in the event of a loss.

DEAL WITH AN AGENT THAT HAS YOUR CONFIDENCE - Make sure your agent gives you the service you need. Ask questions about coverage under different scenarios and ask for recommendations. Deal with a full-service agency; one that offers all the products you need and has the staff to make the complex insurance marketplace bearable.

People spend money on maintaining their cars and ignore their insurance coverage. When you get in an accident and have the other party's lawyers breathing down your neck is not the time to find out that your insurance coverage was inadequate. Get with your agent and tune up your insurance policy now.