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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Federal Flood Insurance Reauthorized Until May 2012

The federal flood insurance program has been extended until May 31, 2012 under another short-term consolidated appropriations bill (H.R. 2055) passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by President Obama on Dec. 23.

Had the appropriations bill not passed, the National Flood Insurance Program’s authority to issue new or renewal flood insurance policies would have expired at midnight on Dec. 23.

Insurance agents— the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (Big “I”) — applauded the reauthorization while continuing to press for a longer term authorization and program reforms.

“It is important to note that our work on this important issue is far from over and the next few months provide ample opportunity for Congress to pass long-term extension and reform legislation that provides the necessary certainty for consumers,” said Charles E. Symington Jr., Big “I” senior vice president for government affairs.

Symington noted that Congress has traditionally extended the program for five year periods in order to provide stability for the marketplace; however, for the last few years Congress had only extended the program for short periods, mostly from 30 days to six months.

“Today’s extension, although greatly appreciated, is just a temporary patch,” said John Prible, Big “I” vice president for federal government affairs.

Auto Insurance Claim Costs Rising Again

Auto insurance claim costs countrywide have recently increased, reversing previous trends of declining or relatively stable costs.

A new report from the Insurance Research Council (IRC), “Trends in Auto Injury Claims, 2011 Edition,” documents auto injury claim trends, both countrywide and by state, using private passenger auto claim data from national and state-level statistical reporting agencies.

Although injury claim severity (the average cost of injury claims) has been increasing steadily in the last several years, much of the increase has been offset by declining claim frequency, which produced relatively stable injury claim costs per insured vehicle, according to the report.

However, recent data indicate that claim frequency, on a countrywide basis, is no longer decreasing. In the case of personal injury protection (PIP) claims, the effect of rising claim severity has been magnified by a simultaneous increase in claim frequency. PIP claim costs per insured vehicle countrywide increased more than 18 percent from 2008 to 2010.

For bodily injury (BI) liability claims, the effect of rising claim severity has been mitigated somewhat by stabilization, rather than an increase, in claim frequency. However, 2010 marks the first year since 1994 that BI claim frequency did not decline.

The report says that much of the deterioration in PIP trends has been concentrated in three of the largest states with no-fault approaches to compensating auto injuries—Florida, Michigan, and New York. In Florida, the average PIP claim cost per insured vehicle in the state jumped 62 percent in just two years (2008-2010). PIP costs per vehicle in Michigan have been increasing rapidly for several years now—rising more than 120 percent over the last decade. The New York system has been on a roller coaster of rising and falling costs driven by a surge in suspected claim abuse in the New York City area, according to IRC.

“These are not encouraging findings for insurers or drivers,” said Elizabeth Sprinkel, senior vice president of The Institutes. “While we hope these findings represent temporary conditions, we can’t be sure that is the case and can’t afford to ignore the factors driving rising claim costs.”

Friday, December 9, 2011

To buy or lease?

If you’re interested in a new car, the question typically arises: Should I lease or buy? As is often the case, it depends on your individual situation. Many people equate leasing with renting but it may be more useful to consider leasing as financing the use of a vehicle whereas buying with a loan finances the purchase of a vehicle.

Your lifestyle, your priorities
As you think about whether to lease or buy a new vehicle, it’s important to make financial comparisons but it’s also important to consider your lifestyle, your objectives and personal priorities — what’s important to you.

If you …
Enjoy driving a new car every three or four years; want lower monthly payments; want a car that is always under warranty; don’t want to trade or sell used cars; don’t care about building equity in your vehicle; have a predictable lifestyle and drive an average number of miles per year1; properly maintain your cars and are willing to pay more over the long haul to get these benefits, then you may want to consider leasing.

On the other hand, if you …
Value long-term cost savings over lower monthly payments; enjoy owning your vehicle and would like to pay it off and be payment-free for a while; don’t mind the unexpected cost of repairs after the warranty has expired; like to customize your vehicle; drive more than the average number of miles per year and don’t mind higher monthly payments, then you may want to consider buying your vehicle.

Caveat: Lack of flexibility
Some consider the inflexibility of the lease agreement a significant drawback of leasing. If you want or need to terminate your agreement before maturity, you will likely pay a significant penalty for early termination. In many cases, the penalty may equal the remainder of payments due under the agreement. So before you enter into a lease make sure your lifestyle and ability-to-pay are predictable and stable.

Contact me at 713-688-8669 or visit

Visit for more information about leasing. When you decide which option you feel is appropriate for your situation, call me. We can sit down and review your coverage and options so you can be sure you have the insurance you want to go with your new ride.

1According to SmartMoney, the average American driver puts about 12,000 miles per year on his or her car. (

The Case for Leasing

Allows you to get a new car frequently
Provides short-term affordability
Results in fewer repair bills
Avoids upside-down loans

The Case against Leasing

You don’t own the vehicle
Penalties for early lease termination
Additional charges for excessive mileage and any damage to the vehicle
Must buy or return car at end of lease

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Real Men Read

Reading to a class at Black Middle School as part of their "Real Men Read" mentor program! Black Middle School has great students and faculty!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Just what is the Texas FAIR Plan?

The Texas Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) was formed in response to a lack of homeowners insurance in various regions of the state. The intent of those who drafted the language in the FAIR Plan was make it the market of last resort and not intended to be a competitor with the private homeowners market.

Policies are written by licensed insurance property and casualty insurance agents in the state. Applicants cannot apply for insurance directly through the FAIR Plan. If a consumer has a complaint about the service of an agent they may contact the FAIR Plan Association at P. O. Box 99080, Austin, TX 78709.

To become eligible for coverage, a potential customer must have been declined residential property insurance by at least two insurance companies licensed and writing property insurance in Texas. Further, to be qualified, consumers may not have received a valid offer of comparable residential insurance from an insurance company licensed in Texas (not including surplus lines insurers).The FAIR Plan can decline coverage to an applicant if the person or the property to be insured does not meet the FAIR Plan’s underwriting standards.

It is important to mention that the FAIR Plan offers limited coverage which may not be as comprehensive as coverage in the voluntary insurance market. Many homeowner insurers offer coverages which are not offered by the FAIR Plan.
It would be difficult to compare premiums in the FAIR Plan with premiums in the voluntary market. Most private insurers offer credits or discounts not offered by the FAIR Plan for variables such as insurance risk scores, newer homes and carrying both homeowners and auto insurance with the same company.

Recently the FAIR Plan has experienced explosive growth in various parts of Texas. For example, in Harris County at the conclusion of July 2010, the FAIR Plan had 54,084 policies in force with $8,728,588,157 in exposure as compared to the end of July 2011 when the FAIR Plan had 62,994 policies in force and $10,201,898,578 in exposure. These statistics result in increases in policies in force and exposure of 16.5 percent and 16.9 percent respectively while the growth in premiums during the period was 15.9 percent.

In Fort Bend County at the conclusion of July 2010 the FAIR Plan had 5,256 policies in force and one year later that number grew to 6,093. Exposure in July 2010 was $1,037,168,246 contrasted with July 2011 when it was $1,184,421,942 representing a growth rate of 13.32 percent.

Lastly, it is important to emphasize that the purpose of the Texas FAIR Plan was to be the market of last resort for consumers but in some parts of Texas it is becoming a market of first choice.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Farmers Agent David Lorms participated in the Oak Forest Elementary School Parents night Thursday September 8, 2011 by handing out free finger printing kits and saftey coloring books for children. The finger printing kits are part of an Identification Packet that serves as the first step in an Amber Alert.

State Farm Seeks 10% Homeowners Rate Hike in Texas September 14, 2011

State Farm Insurance has filed notice seeking an average 10 percent increase in Texas homeowner rates. But company officials say discounts will be boosted to hold the actual premium hike to 1.4 percent statewide. The Dallas Morning News reports State Farm has also proposed a requiring customers to shift to a deductible of 1 percent of the home’s insured value. Current deductibles are often a flat rate, such as $500 or $1,000. Company officials said that the new deductibles are in line with the increased cost of home repairs. State Farm wants the changes to take effect Oct. 15 for new customers and Dec. 1 for existing policyholders. A new Texas law requires the state insurance commissioner to complete a review of the request within 30 days

Allstate planning 'dramatic' rate hikes within homeowners

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 1:25 PM ET

By Adam Cancryn

Allstate Corp. will combat mounting catastrophe losses with significant price hikes in its homeowners insurance segment, Chairman, President and CEO Thomas Wilson II said at a conference hosted by Barclays on Sept. 13.

Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and other natural disasters have cut into the company's profitability over the last three years and left its homeowners division with combined ratios exceeding 100%. Rather than hoping for calmer years going forward, Wilson said Allstate is adapting its business based on expectations that catastrophe losses will remain at these elevated levels. "We're assuming that expenses and losses will stay where they're at," Wilson said. "The first thing you've got to do is raise prices."

Allstate increased its homeowners rates by 8.4% in 2009 and 7.0% in 2010. It raised them another 3.4% during the first half of this year. However, the company plans on a few more years of "pretty dramatic price increases" before it is comfortable with the segment's disaster risk. At the same time, Wilson said the division has steadily reduced its exposure by cutting a significant number of policies in force.

Allstate will also reduce claims costs by redesigning its roof coverage products to age-rate the roofs it covers. The new approach will lower payouts for damage to older roofs. The fixed annuities segment has also dragged on Allstate's performance, Wilson said. The single-digit returns have been "subpar" while the broader economy struggles, but the company has no plans to radically alter the portfolio until interest rates start to improve.

"We're intentionally keeping returns low because we don't want to invest long term," he said. "When rates go up, we'll be able to reposition that business with different investments." Wilson also provided a brief update on Allstate's pending acquisition of Esurance, saying it is rethinking the company's marketing strategy. No major steps can be taken until the deal is closed, but Wilson said the insurer is considering bringing in a new advertising agency to lead the promotional push.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Safety Information given to Parents by David Lorms

David Lorms, Farmers Insurance Agent, passed out child safety information and identification packets to parents of studends of LU LU Stevens Elementary School on Parents night last Tuesday, September 30th, 2011. Pictured with Lorms is Principal Lucy Anderson.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Life insurance - Now is the time to get it started

According to a recent study published by the Life Insurance and Market Research Association, in 2010, 30 percent of U.S. households had no life insurance coverage at all.1

Taking steps to help protect your family’s financial future — it’s never too late or too early to start. For many of us, life is hectic and fast-moving and life insurance may not seem like a priority. Consider, however: Your ability to earn income is a significant asset to your family, and life insurance could help replace lost income in the event of your death. And if you do own life insurance, it’s important to review it and re-evaluate your needs periodically. Why? Well, as changes in your life circumstances occur, changes in your life insurance needs may follow. That’s why it’s a good idea to review and evaluate your needs at least every few years and certainly when big changes or life events occur.

Life is full of the unexpected
We can’t prevent or predict the unexpected, but we can prepare for it. Life insurance gives you the opportunity to help protect your family’s lifestyle, dreams and finances should the unexpected occur.

Life insurance can help your family:

Continue to pay the home mortgage
Maintain their current standard of living
Pay off debts, estate taxes and final expenses
Create a fund for college education
Create a fund for a family member with special needs
Help protect their dreams for the future
Take some time to think about life insurance and talk about life insurance. And call me — we can work together to help you be sure you have the coverage you want and the protection your family deserves.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Peak Hurricane Season is Here

The height of the 2011 Hurricane Season is here, which means a significant risk of flooding in both coastal communities and those far inland as well. In fact, some of the worst damage from recent hurricanes occurred hundreds or even thousands of miles from the coast—as far as New York state due to Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and through much of the Midwest and into Pennsylvania because of Hurricane Ike in 2008. While your customers may not be aware of the risk until your community is threatened with an impending storm, they need to know now that there is typically a 30-day waiting period for a flood insurance policy to take effect.

Encourage your customers to get covered now. Let them know that flood insurance is more affordable than they may think. The average flood insurance policy is around $579 a year and in moderate-to-low-risk areas, Preferred Risk Policies start as low as $129 a year.

Costly Consequences

Eight of the top ten most expensive federally declared disasters were caused by hurricanes. Just a few inches of water can cause tens of thousands of dollars of damage and last year, the average individual flood insurance claim was more than $24,000. Without flood insurance protection, many property owners have to absorb the financial losses on their own, potentially draining their savings.

Tools You Can Use to Market Flood Insurance

Visit to find essential information and tools that will help remind your customers to prepare for the dangers of flooding all year long, and please share these interactive resources with your customers, colleagues and partners as well.

Cost-of-Flooding Tool: Gives consumers an estimate of how much they will have to pay to repair their properties based on various levels of flooding.
One-Step Flood Risk Profile Assessment Tool: Enables consumers to enter their address and learn about their property’s flood risk.
Hurricane Flooding Fact Sheets: Explains hurricane season risks.
Hurricane Season Widget: A simple interactive application that you can post to your website that includes helpful flood risk/flood insurance information and tips for your customers.
Levee Simulator: Demonstrates how levees work and the risks home and business owners face when they fail.

Condo coverage

As many of us consider downsizing, condominiums or co-ops may become an attractive alternative to the responsibilities that go along with single-family home ownership. But sometimes questions arise with regard to responsibility for and ownership of various parts of the property. Obviously, you — the unit owner — own your personal property, like your sofa and bedroom dresser. But what about the interior walls, plumbing and other parts of the property? Those questions often lead to concerns about insurance. How do you know what insurance you need?

Who owns what?
When a condominium or co-op is being built, the developer creates a declaration that provides the organizational structure. This declaration usually becomes the guiding document for the association and each unit owner because it outlines the common elements — parts of the property owned and shared among all unit owners — that are the association’s responsibility. The association normally obtains an insurance policy to cover association property and liability. As the unit owner, you buy insurance to cover your personal property and liability, as well as building property that’s defined as part of the condominium unit and for which you’re responsible under your association’s documents.

The “association policy” — Sometimes called the “master policy,” this is provided by the condo/co-op board, and generally insures the common areas for both liability and property damage — the roof, basement, elevator, boiler, pool and walkways, for instance.
Your individual condo policy — This covers your personal possessions and provides additional living expenses in the event your unit becomes uninhabitable due to damage caused by fire, tornado or other covered loss. Typically, your policy would include personal liability, unit owner’s building property and loss assessment coverage as well.

Let’s work together
Insurance coverage for condo or co-op owners can get complicated, so call me. I can answer your questions about the condo policy, explain coverage provisions and identify discounts for which you may qualify and deductibles you may choose. And if you’re sticking with your single-family home — or if you rent — I can help you with that as well. Forward this to someone you know — I can help them, too.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Buying a Car

There's more to buying a car than picking the paint color and upholstery. That's the fun part. Truth is, buying a car is a major purchase, and if you're financing your car with an auto loan, it's a significant financial commitment that will impact your finances for years to come.

Whether you're buying or leasing, there are important insurance considerations to take into account. Depending on your lease, you may be required to purchase more coverage than you might have if you were buying the vehicle. Also, some cars are simply more expensive to insure than others, whether because of safety records, theft statistics, or even how you plan to use the vehicle.

If you're considering several models and can't decide, your Farmers agent can help you make an informed decision. Contact them for coverage price comparisons for the models you're interested in. A higher -- or lower -- insurance coverage premium may make the decision for you!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Does Property Value have anything to do with Reconstruction Value?

One of the biggest questions I’ve been asked is ”how is the coverage on my home owners policy determined?". Most people equate it to the market value but the problem here is that the property value has NOTHING to do with what it would cost to reconstruct you home.

Most homeowners policies cover the reconstruction of your home if damaged or destroyed by certain perils (risks). The ”dwelling coverage” on your homeowners policy is what covers the reconstruction of your home, plus tearing out old debris and hauling it off. If properly written, your homeowners policy would have exactly enough “dwelling coverage” on the policy to rebuild you home if it was totally destroyed.

The bottom line is that the cost to rebuild your home has nothing to do with what it would sell or appraise for. Depending on the condition of the home and the market in the area, the sale or appraised value may be less than what it would cost to rebuild that same house. On the flip side, if a house is in good condition and the housing market is stable, then the sale price or appraised value should be greater than what it would cost to rebuild the home.

Here are some practical ideas you can do today to make sure you have the proper reconstruction cost limits on your homeowners policy;

*Contact your agent and ask for a meeting to review your policy.They should be using state approved recosntruction calculators.
*Call some local contractors and ask them to give you a approximate cost per square foot if they were to build a home in your area. Then once you get that cost simply multiply it by the square footage of you home and you can get a good idea of the coverage limit needed on you policy.
*Ask some of your neighbors what their coverage limits are – hoping they have the proper coverage.
*Ultimately for most insurance companies, the responsibility for having enough coverage is on the insured NOT the company. So it is so important that you take the time to be sure you have the right coverage – you don’t want to find out when it’s to late!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Your auto insurance premiums change: Do you wonder why?

Many factors affect your auto insurance cost. You can control some of them, such as your choice of vehicle, your driving habits, and the coverages and deductibles you choose.

Then there are some factors over which you — and in many instances your insurance carrier — have little or no control, such as medical costs to treat injuries, vehicle repair costs, costs to adjust claims, and uninsured drivers.

Controlling insurance costs
What is Farmers doing to control insurance costs? Actually, quite a lot. Take a look at some of our ongoing initiatives:

We make available a network of reliable auto repair facilities.
We vigorously oppose frivolous lawsuits.
We have an active Anti-Fraud Unit.
We offer a youth driving safety education program to all parents of young drivers.
We actively support organizations devoted to auto safety, including anti-drunk driving efforts and those dedicated to improving youth driving safety.
In many states, we offer annual policies to help keep your rates more stable. Call me to see if this option is available to you.
Farmers offers many discounts that may help you keep your insurance costs low, including:*

Multiple-Policy Discount: Insuring both your home and automobile with Farmers may entitle you to reduced rates on each.
Alternative Fuel Discount: You can save on all major coverages if you drive a hybrid or other alternative fuel vehicle.
Electronic Stability Control Discount: Vehicles equipped with a stability control feature may qualify for a discount on collision coverage.
Professional Affinity Group Discount: Doctors, Registered Nurses, Engineers, Scientists, Educators, Accountants, Police, Firefighters and other professionals may qualify for discounts.
Anti-Lock Brake Discount: If your car is equipped with a factory-installed anti-lock braking system on all four wheels, you may pay less.
Anti-Theft Discount: You may save on your Comprehensive Coverage if your car is equipped with an anti-theft device.
Accident Free Discount: A good driving record could save you even more.
Good Student Discount: Households with young drivers who are students and maintain a "B" average may be eligible for a discount.
Let's get together, review your coverage and discuss your individual needs so you can be sure you're taking advantage of available cost-savings and that you have the coverage you want.

*Discounts apply to select coverages, perils and policy types, and may vary by state. Eligibility and actual percentage of discounts may vary.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Texas Lawmakers Pass Sweeping Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) Legislation

After weeks of negotiations during a legislative special session, the Texas Legislature finally passed a meaningful Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) bill. Gov. Rick Perry placed TWIA on the special session agenda forcing legislators to solve problems that surfaced at TWIA after Hurricane Ike. Texas House members wanted to limit damages to the actual cost of a policy, lawyer fees and interest. However, Texas Senators wanted to keep the ability to sue TWIA for triple damage while adding on hefty interest penalties. House & Senate negotiators met roughly in the middle when forging a compromise on the bill.

The bill eliminates treble damages and an eighteen percent penalty interest. Insureds must file a claim within one year of the date of loss with extensions for good cause. Premium discounts are required for insureds electing binding arbitration. Insured must exhaust administrative remedies, including appraisal where appropriate, before a lawsuit can be filed. The bill will allow double damages under limited circumstances for knowing and intentional violations by TWIA; and impose deadlines for TWIA to complete investigation and notice of claims. A new expert panel is required to recommend how to settle disputed wind v. water claims and where evidence is limited (slab losses).

Other key provisions included in the bill:

Funding. Pre-event bonds can be authorized and the $2.5 billion in aggregate funding for bonds is the maximum in any calendar year. This clarifies provisions of the law passed in 2009. The TWIA board is authorized to purchase reinsurance and if TWIA does not purchase reinsurance, it has to submit an actuarial plan to pay losses in excess of $2.5 Billion.

Operations. TWIA is subject to open meeting and open records act. The insurance commissioner can be present in executive session meetings; TWIA must publish salary information for certain managers and contractors.

TDI Oversight. TDI is allowed to put TWIA into conservatorship. Random claim audits are required after 1,000 claims have been filed following a storm. TDI has authority to issue cease and desist order to inspectors. A study for a single adjuster program is required.

Agent Commissions. TDI must set agent commissions by rule; however, current commissions remain in place until technologies and efficiencies improve the process for the TWIA applications.

Loss Mitigation. Provides for alternative certification requirements for certain noncompliant structures and consumers building to higher code standards can receive premium discounts.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

President Declares Major Disaster For The State Of Texas

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today announced that federal disaster assistance has been made available to the state of Texas to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by wildfires during the period of April 6 to May 3, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

We LOVE it when you “Just Keep Talking” about the special treatment and low prices you receive from us! Now, we want to add a little FUN to the process! We’re going to make YOU A WINNER when you tell a friend, relative or colleague to call us at 713-688-8669 or visit us at We could give our advertising dollars to newspapers, ad agencies, etc., but we’d rather give it to you because… YOU are the best advertising we can get!
Thank you for your support!
David Lorms

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hurruicane Season Starts June 1st - November 30

Educate Yourself
After getting flood insurance, there are several things you can do to minimize losses in your home and ensure your family's safety.

1. Safeguard your possessions.
Create a personal flood file containing information about all your possessions and keep it in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box or waterproof container. This file should have:

A copy of your insurance policies with your agents contact information.
Conduct a household inventory: For insurance purposes, be sure to keep a written and visual (i.e., videotaped or photographed) record of all major household items and valuables, even those stored in basements, attics or garages. Create files that include serial numbers and store receipts for major appliances and electronics. Have jewelry and artwork appraised. These documents are critically important when filing insurance claims. For more information visit
Copies of all other critical documents, including finance records or receipts of major purchases.

2. Prepare your house.

First make sure your sump pump is working and then install a battery-operated backup, in case of a power failure. Installing a water alarm will also let you know if water is accumulating in your basement.
Clear debris from gutters and downspouts.
Anchor any fuel tanks.
Raise your electrical components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers, and wiring) at least 12 inches above your home's projected flood elevation.
Place the furnace, water heater, washer, and dryer on cement blocks at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation.
Move furniture, valuables, and important documents to a safe place.

3. Develop a family emergency plan.

Create a safety kit with drinking water, canned food, first aid, blankets, a radio, and a flashlight.
Post emergency telephone numbers by the phone and teach your children how to dial 911.
Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family. Know safe routes from home, work, and school that are on higher ground.
Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be your emergency family contact.
Have a plan to protect your pets.

For more information on emergency preparation, talk to your insurance agent or visit

Friday, May 27, 2011

Farmers Agent David Lorms donated money to Oak Forest Elementary School for a Perfect Attendance Program. Pictured with Lorms is Principal Scott Pollack.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

David Lorms, Farmers Insurance Agent, donated money to Lu Lu Stephens Elementary School for a Perfect Attendance Award Program. Pictured with Lorms is Principal Lucy Anderson.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Houston’s Top Ten Stolen Vehicles for April 2011

The following is a rundown of the “Top 10” makes of vehicles reported stolen to the Houston Police Department during the month of April 2011.

1. Chevrolet Trucks 127

2. Ford Trucks 123

3. Honda Cars 85

4. Dodge Trucks 68

5. GMC Trucks 38

6. Toyota Cars 36

7. Chevrolet Cars 34

8. Dodge Cars 28

9. Ford Cars 23

10. Buick Cars 17

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

State Farm's Dog Bite Claim States

This makes you think twice about what kind of dog you may want to have!

State Farm reportedly paid more than $90 million as a result of the nearly 3,500 dog bite claims in 2010.

The list of the top 10 states for dog bite claims in 2010 processed by State Farm is as follows:

State - Number of claims – Claims paid (estimated)

1. California 369 $11.3 million

2. Illinois 317 $9.7 million

3. Ohio 215 $5.7 million

4. Texas 202 $3.7 million

5. Michigan 166 $5.2 million

6. Pennsylvania 155 $3.9 million

7. Florida 146 $5.6 million

8. Minnesota 139 $3.4 million

9. New York 119 $4.3 million

10. Indiana 114 $1.8 million

The Insurance Information Institute (III) estimates that in 2009, insurers across the country paid more than $412 million in dog bite claims.

Source: State Farm

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How to protect your family if you die...what everyone must know about life insurance

What you'll discover in this report:
How to make sure your family is really protected!
Cut through the confusing "insurance jargon" and know what a life insurance policy really says!
The different kinds of life insurance policies...what they're good for, when to use which one
Why smart consumers use life insurance...and the mistakes that other people make too often
...and much more!
How to protect your family if you die...
Life insurance is a simple concept -- you buy a policy that pays to your beneficiary or beneficiaries when you die -- but the decisions of what kind life insurance to purchase, how much of a death benefit and how much you pay are extremely complex.

* Note. There are more than 2,000 companies selling life insurance in this country. Some are very good, financially solid companies; others are not so sound. A company's financial strength is vitally important to you because, hopefully, no one is going to collect on your life insurance for a long time.

You want to make sure your life insurer will be around for the long haul. How do you do this? You can consult a seasoned insurance professional, which is probably your best bet, or you can look at how various independent organizations "rate" the life insurers you are considering. Ratings are like school grades, A+, A, A-, B+, etc. In general, it's wise to stick with companies that are rated A or better by most rating organizations.

Many Purposes for Life Insurance
Life insurance is far more than just a decision of how much to buy. Depending on your financial situation, life insurance can be used for a variety of purposes, such as:

estate planning
accumulating cash
transferring wealth
achieving estate tax liquidity.
Life insurance is like auto insurance in that you can buy a lot of it or not very much of it. Life insurance differs from auto insurance in that, depending on the type of policy you buy, you can pay a lot or a little for basically the same death benefit. Keep in mind, though, that the younger and healthier you are, the less you will pay for coverage. Life insurers like to have their policyholders around for a long, long time.

* Tip. So how much life insurance do you need? It depends. One common benchmark says your death benefit should be about six to eight times your annual earnings, but there are a variety of factors to consider:

Other income sources.
The size of your family. Whether your spouse works and his or her earning capacity now and in the future. The number of people who are financially dependent on you and for how long. The death benefits your family will receive from Social Security and any life insurance plan through your employer. And any special needs such as mortgages, college education funds and estate planning.

Make Sure Death Benefit Is Adequate
What kind of life insurance should you buy? That also depends. But keep this very important principle in mind:

* Tip. Whatever type of policy you buy, make sure it provides enough of a death benefit to meet your family's needs if you aren't there. When you consider buying life insurance, calculate what your family must have in terms of a death benefit. Don't lose sight of this number.

What kinds of life insurance policies are there? There are several, but keep in mind that the terms and costs of the policies vary widely among insurers.

There are two basic types:

term life, which is good for only a certain period of time, and,
cash-value, which is "permanent" insurance that also includes a buildup of value in cash in addition to your death benefit. You can borrow against your cash value. You can even take out some of that cash value, but your death benefit will be reduced.
What exactly is "cash value?" It's the part of a permanent life insurance policy not needed for so-called "mortality expenses." The greater your risk of dying, for whatever reason, in the near term, the greater your mortality expense to your insurer.

When young, healthy people buy life insurance, they have a very low mortality cost to their insurer (which is why life insurers are so willing to provide coverage to the young and healthy).

What You Need to Know about Term Life Insurance...
Term life policies provide coverage for specific periods of time, sometimes as little as one year. While you usually can renew term life policies for one or more terms even if your health has changed, there's potentially a big risk here if you get sick during the term.

* Tip. If your health does change, you probably won't be able to buy another term without watching your premium skyrocket. You should ask your insurer or agent what the premium will be if you continue to renew the policy.

* Note. You should also ask whether you will lose the right to renew the policy when you reach a certain age. Because this coverage is fairly cheap, it's often a good option for young people in good health who can't afford to buy "permanent" coverage.

Here are a couple of term life policy options:

Yearly Renewable Term Life -- This is coverage for a longer term, five, 10 or 20 years. The longer term also means that the costs to cover you are spread out so that you will avoid the potential for huge annual premium increases.
Convertible Term Life -- This is yearly renewable with the option to convert to a permanent policy in the future. The coverage, which often has the lowest cost and highest death benefit options of term insurance, can be a good choice for younger people who can't afford permanent coverage but who need a large death benefit and the option to convert to a permanent policy down the road.
What you need to know about Cash Value Life Insurance...
Cash-value life policies have premiums that are higher at the beginning than they would be for the same amount of term insurance.

The part of the premium not used to cover the yearly cost for mortality and other expenses is invested by the company and builds up a cash value that you may use in a variety of ways. Here are some specific examples of cash-value life insurance:

Whole (or Ordinary) Life -- Like other cash-value policies, this is permanent coverage. The cost is literally stretched out over your entire life, or what the insurance company expects your entire life period to be. Life insurers have tables that tell them how long, on average, someone of your age and physical health will live.

Say you want $500,000 in coverage. The insurance company's rates are based on how much they need to charge you in order to allow the company to recoup the eventual death benefit while you are alive. The premium and the death benefit don't change much in whole life policies. You pay so much a month for a given death benefit. However, dividends to policyholders can increase the coverage or decrease the premium.

Universal Life -- This is the flexible life insurance. You can change your premium and your death benefit at any time, although a substantial increase in the coverage usually requires you to prove you are still in good health.
Variable Life -- This is a hybrid whole/universal coverage in which the death benefit is dependent on the investment performance of the insurance company's assets. And you get to choose the investment vehicle -- money market fund, bond fund or stock fund -- for your premium.
* Note. If your investments do well, your policy's cash value and death benefit will increase. If not, they'll go down, but most variable life policies won't let your death benefit drop below a certain level. However, it's possible a company will charge you for a guaranteed death benefit.

Which type of policy is best for you? In general, if you have significant assets, it's better (and less risky) to have some sort of cash-value policy. But which one? It's more important to buy the coverage from an insurer that has the best chance of performing well in the future; an insurer that has low actual expenses and mortality costs. Such an insurer will be able to offer better terms, including higher death benefits, higher cash value and lower premiums.

* Tip. But, again, there are more than 2,000 companies selling life insurance in the United States. As a result, you have thousands and thousands of options. This makes it even more imperative that you have a trained insurance professional analyze your financial situation and determine what kind of policy, from which insurer, is best for you.

Are you protected from bad weather?

A severe line of thunderstorms extending 100 miles pounded portions of north central Texas this week producing hail as large as tennis balls. The line extended from Denton to Hillsboro.

The communities of Itasca and Covington located north of Hillsboro were hit with tennis ball size hail. Residents reported damage to homes and automobiles. Golf ball size hail was reported in cities along Interstate 35 W from Denton County to Hill County. (see above map)

The heaviest thunderstorms this year occurred on April 10, when four tornadoes and hailstorms struck north, south and east of the DFW area. The April 10 storm caused $100 million in insured losses. A second round of storms occurred April 14, with multiple reports of golf ball size hail falling in suburbs north of Dallas and Fort Worth.

All three storm systems have been responsible for nearly 300 tornadoes that have resulted in dozens of fatalities and property damage in 14 states.

“We don’t want the violent weather, but the entire state is in dire need of a good rain to not only end our drought-like conditions, but to bring a halt to the wildfires that continue to ravage our state,” said Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas.

Source: The Insurance Council of Texas

Thursday, April 7, 2011

House Flood Insurance Reform Bill Wins Bipartisan Support

April 7, 2011

Article Comments A House subcommittee yesterday approved a bipartisan bill to reauthorize and reform the nation’s flood insurance program.

The 10 Republicans and eight Democrats on the Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee approved the bill on a voice vote.

The legislation (HR 1309) provides for a five-year extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and phases out the program’s rate subsidies, gradually raises all premiums to reflect actual costs, improves the accuracy of flood maps and allows more public input into the mapping process, and encourages private insurer and reinsurer participation in the market.

The bill also adds two new coverage options, ties policy limits to inflation, and sets higher deductibles for rate-subsidized properties.

The NFIP, which is more than $17 billion in debt, is currently slated to expire on Sept. 30. It has been operating on short-term authorizations and has been criticized by fiscal watchdogs for under-pricing risk and by environmental groups for promoting development in environmentally-sensitive areas.

“I’m very pleased we were able to move this bill forward with bipartisan support. The current program is in deep financial trouble and our bill places it back on sound footing by phasing in actuarially sound rates, and it addresses a broad range of concerns about new maps, as well as dams and levees,” said Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., subcommittee chair and chief sponsor of the bill.

“Together, these reforms will help ensure reliable protection for homeowners and businesses while shifting the burden of risk off American taxpayers.”

The bill is co-sponsored by subcommittee members Maxine Waters, D-Calif., Scott Garrett, R-N.J., Robert Dold, R-Ill., Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va, and Steve Stivers, R-Oh.

Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., commended Biggert’s committee for its bipartisan action. “Thousands of communities and millions of property owners depend on flood insurance to provide some measure of security. To protect them while minimizing the risk to taxpayers, the NFIP must be made more self-sufficient,” Bachus said.

The plan pushes the program to reduce subsidies in flood insurance rates in several ways.

It requires that rates for most properties be raised by 20 percent a year until they reach actuarially sound levels. These include commercial properties, vacation homes, repetitive loss properties, homes that have had damage exceeding 50 percent of their value, homes that have had improvements exceeding 30 percent of their value, and homes sold to new owners.As part of its effort to move to cost-based rates, the bill raises the cap on increases for certain properties in the program, including commercial buildings, second homes, vacation homes, homes sold to new owners, homes that have had substantial flood damage and improvements, and homes that have had multiple flood claims.

For all other existing policyholders, rates would be allowed to go up within a flex-band of between 10 percent and 20 percent a year. Current law does not allow increases above 10 percent a year.

Also, rates for property owners in communities newly designated as in flood hazard zones would be move to cost-based pricing over a five-year span. Their rates would be start at 50 percent of the actuarial indications the first year, with 20 percent hikes each year thereafter until they are brought in line with what actuaries say they should be.

The bill sets minimum deductibles of $1,000 for properties being charged cost-based rates, and $2,000 for those with subsidized rates.

Maximum coverage limits — currently $250,000 for residential structures, $100,000 for residential contents and $500,000 for commercial properties — would be indexed to inflation starting in 2012.

The bill does not add wind coverage to the NFIP offerings as some lawmakers from coastal states have urged in the past, but it does add two new coverage options: additional living expenses (ALE) up to $5,000 aggregate and business interruption (BI) coverage up to $20,000 per property. This expansion has been backed by business and insurance groups but questioned by some taxpayer and conservation groups.

The bill would establish an advisory council to give local communities more say in the flood mapping process and it directs the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that manages the prorgam to take steps to improve the accuracy of maps.

It also lends support to efforts to privatize the program. FEMA must report within 18 months on a “broad range of options, methods and strategies” for privatizing the program. Also, within six months, FEMA must conduct a study to assess the capacity of the private reinsurance, capital, and financial markets to assume a portion of the program’s risk. It authorizes FEMA to secure private reinsurance to help maintain the program’s ability to pay claims and minimize its need to borrow from the Treasury.

The bill also calls for incentives for communities and individuals to take mitigation steps and enforce local building codes.

The legislation has the backing of insurance groups.

Ben McKay, senior vice president of federal government relations for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, called the legislation “a step in the right direction for strengthening the program with a critical long-term reauthorization to protect the over 5.6 million Americans who rely on flood insurance.”

“Today’s vote was an important first step for reforming the National Flood Insurance Program,” said Jimi Grande, senior vice president of federal and political affairs for National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies. “But there’s still a long way to go. We urge the full Financial Services Committee to take up HR 1309 swiftly.”, a coalition of conservation and business groups, also praised the action.

“This is a concrete first step towards real reform of the NFIP program. For over 40 years, the federal government, through NFIP has provided significant subsidies for flood coverage. It has provided the wrong incentives, helping to subsidize development in harm’s way,” the group said in a press release. “The American taxpayer has been put at significant risk through this program. The Biggert bill takes significant strides towards protecting taxpayers and we now look forward to its consideration by the House Financial Services Committee.”

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Donation to Lu Lu Stevens Elementary School

Farmers Agent David Lorms, donated money to fund a perfect attendance award program to Lu Lu Stevens Elementary School for the Spring 2011 semester. This program gives students the incentive to attend class with perfect attendance for the opportunity to win prizes. Pictured with Lorms is Lucy Anderson, Principal.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Seeking Agency Producer - Insurance Sales (TC Jester and Loop 610)

Agency producers work in Farmers agencies as field sales professionals. Agency producers are able to sell insurance and financial products much as an agent does and financial service products if the agent has the required licenses. But an agency producer does not have the responsibility of managing a business operation. Agency producers are compensated by the agent for who they provide services. If you are bilingual, you may also qualify for other financial incentives.

Minimum qualifications, usually preferred include:

• Excellent written and oral communication skills (Bilingual a plus-Spanish)
• Customer service oriented
• Good computer skills and proficient with Word, Excel and PowerPoint
• Excellent organizational skills
• Highly motivated entrepreneur
• High School Diploma
• Good credit history ; Insurance license a plus

So why wait? Explore an exciting new opportunity as a Producer in a Farmers agency.
Location: TC Jester and Loop 610
Compensation: Salary plus bonus/commission

Compensation: Salary (hourly) plus bonus/commission

Monday, March 28, 2011

Unrestrained risks

While strolling down a country road during the summer of 1999, author Stephen King was hit by a weaving van that almost took his life. As King describes in his memoir “On Writing,” a distracted driver had reached into the backseat of his van trying to push his Rottweiler away from a cooler containing meat. The out-of-control van struck the famous writer head-on.

This scenario is not that uncommon. Dog owners often take their beloveds with them when tooling around town, running errands and even on long road trips. And most often the dogs are free to move about in the vehicle. According to Paws to Click, a movement that promotes safe pet travel, unrestrained pets result in more than 30,000 auto accidents per year in the United States.

Think about this: In an accident of only 30 mph, a 60-pound dog can cause an impact of 2,700 pounds, slamming into a car seat, a windshield or another passenger.1

Shocked and scared
After a crash, when every moment is precious, unrestrained pets can attack or otherwise impede emergency medical personnel from reaching critically injured persons. Dogs thrown out of vehicles during or after a collision may be shocked and disoriented and prone to attack passersby. They may survive the initial crash and then bewildered, wander into moving traffic or onto a highway causing another accident or their own demise.

Protect yourself; protect your dog
Endorsed by Bark Buckle UP, a leader and expert in pet travel safety, pet seat belts are the preferred pet safety product. They constrain dogs from distracting the driver and protect pets from being thrown after a collision. Other popular restraints include:

Hard-sided pet travel crate
Pet vehicle seat
Soft-sided pet travel crate
Vehicle pet barrier
Remember, if your dog is near you while you’re driving, he or she can interfere with both your physical and mental ability to operate your vehicle. Learn more about smart driving with your dog at Bark Buckle Up. Traveling together is fun; keep it safe.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Industry news: Proposed Flood Insurance bill gets positive initial reaction

With the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) currently scheduled to expire September 30, a proposed bill that would extend it five years is being hailed as a good starting point for long-term reform. It would phase out most rate subsidies, tie coverage limits to the rate of inflation, vary the deductible by how subsidized the premium is, and allow the program to sell optional additional living expense and business interruption coverages. Read an Insurance Journal article summarizing the proposed bill.

Monday, March 7, 2011

What is a good car for a16 year old?

Question: I'm a 16 y/o boy and i'm going to have enough money to purchase my own car for my junior year of high school. I'm curious as to what car I should be looking in to/brand. My budget will range between 10-15,000. Definitely looking for a stylish/sporty car. I was thinking either a mustang, or a pontiac g6. I am looking for a used, and i am aware that i have to be conscious of insurance. and with the mustang it's been my dream car since I was a little kid. i love the 90's model's especially.

Answer: The best option is to get an older, 4 door vehicle, where you can buy liability only. Sport cars for anyone under 25 could be up to $1,000 per month for insurance. Be sure to take Drivers Training for a discount. If you have a GPA of 3.0 (B+) or better, you can also get a "good student" discount. You also will want to consider bundling your auto policy to your parent's policy, where you would benenfit from "multiple car", "auto home" and "good credit" discounts. If you had an accident or ticket, it would not affect your parents policy.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Black History Month February 2011

Farmers Agent David Lorms, donated Farmers Freedom Song lesson plans including a film to Lu Lu Stevens Elementary School. Celebrating a century of African-American history, the documentary film Freedom's Song: 100 years of African-American Struggle and Triumph highlights significant milestones of the African-American experience. Pictured with Lorms is Principal Lucy Anderson.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Top 5 Reasons Professionals need Errors and Omissions Coverage

1. Higher standards of care are created by you, the professional and the expert

2. Increasing Litigation in our society is generating more frivolous lawsuits

3. Average defense cost for an E&O claim is $150,000

4. Allegations of General Negligence in performance of professional services for compensation

5. Employees can make honest errors that can cause economic loss to your company
Paperwork/Administrative errors

- Funds-handling errors

- Failure to document

- Allegations of Libel, Slander, or Defamation

- Errors regarding the content of media communication

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Black History Month

Farmers Agent, David Lorms, donated lesson plans for Black History month to Black Middle School. Pictured with Lorms is Assistance Vice Principal Tom Day.

Monday, February 14, 2011


By Farmers Insurance by David Lorms

What you’ll discover in this report:
 Surprising secrets about what’s covered in a standard Renter’s Policy!
 The most dangerous myth about renters insurance
 What to do before you ever have a claim
 Protecting your jewelry, art, computer equipment and other valuables that
may not be covered!
 Insurance jargon demystified! What are you really getting? Find out here...

BUSTING THE MYTHS ABOUT RENTERS INSURANCEIt is one of the most commonly repeated myths about insurance. Renters don’t need insurance because their landlord’s policy provides coverage for the renters’ property.

No, it doesn’t. Further, if someone slips and falls in your apartment or rented home, your landlord’s insurance usually won’t provide any coverage for you if you are sued.

Renters insurance is basically like homeowners coverage without coverage for the structure.

 Note. Renters insurance provides coverage for your possessions and for liability if someone injured while on your premises sues you. Renters insurance also covers any of your possessions when they are away from your residence, including in your car.

In addition, renters policies provide what are called additional living expenses. If some catastrophe covered by the policy -- fire, bursting pipes -- makes the place you are renting uninhabitable, the policy will pay some of the costs you incur to live somewhere else while the residence is being repaired.

The coverage is usually limited to either a specific period of time, say 12 months, or what the insurance company considers a “reasonable length of time.” Also, there is a cap on the amount of additional living expenses the insurer will pay, usually a percentage of the total liability limits.

Like homeowners insurance, renters policies do not cover damage or losses resulting from flooding, landslide or earthquake -- although it is possible to buy coverage for these risks separately.

Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost for rentersLike homeowners insurance, there are two options for covering your possessions:

Actual cash value, which is the replacement cost of an item minus depreciation.

Replacement, which allows you to buy a new item to replace the one lost, stolen or damaged, no matter how old that item is.

 Note. Because replacement cost is better coverage, it costs more. Usually about 10% to 15% more.

Speaking of cost, renters insurance is fairly cheap when compared with other personal insurance policies. Usually, you can get a decent policy for about $200 a year, depending on where you live. If you choose higher limits for your personal property and liability coverage, you could pay as much as $400 a year.

The policy has dollar limits on certain types of items. For example, there is usually a $1,000 limit for jewelry and anywhere from a $3,000 to $10,000 limit for computer equipment. If you want higher limits, you can purchase an endorsement, or “floater,” to the basic policy.

Like homeowners insurance, renters coverage has a deductible -- the amount you will pay before insurance kicks in. The higher the deductible, the less your policy will cost.

You probably should have the same liability limits on your renters policy as you do on your auto insurance policy. Like your auto policy, you want to make sure your renters insurance will cover all your assets if you are sued.

If you are renting with a roommate or roommates, it’s probably best to include all your roommates on the policy. In addition, if you are living and renting with a significant other, many insurance companies will allow you to obtain joint coverage, just as if you were married.

If You Rent: How to Keep Track of What You Own...

 Tip. Like homeowners, you as a renter should have a written and visual inventory of all of your possessions. For items of significant value, you should write down the model numbers, serial numbers, date of purchase and price. Make a written copy of your inventory and keep it at another location, along with your photographs and/or video of the items. A safe deposit box is a good place to keep such records.

 Note. If one of your “possessions” is a dog, you may find it more difficult to get coverage, particularly if that dog is a Rottweiler, Pit Bull or Doberman.

 Tip. Finally, remember that many insurance companies give discounts to those who have multiple policies with a given insurer. Shop around, or have your agent shop around, for insurance companies that have the best rates, discounts, etc., for renters and auto insurance if both are placed with the same company.

Be a smart consumer...but don’t try to be your “own agent.” Protection for you and your family requires constantly vigilance....and a partnership between you and your professional agent. For the latest information on how to save money AND get the best protection for yourself and the people you care most about call Farmers Insurance by David Lorms at 713-688-8669.

Black History Month 2011: Facts on the Annual Celebration

Farmers has partnered with The Association for the Study of African American Life and History to create Freedom's Song. Complete with a DVD and additional lesson plans and learning materials, Freedom's Song, shares the African American experience in the film industry. The DVD documentary addresses the triumphs and struggles that African Americans have experienced during the past century.

The Supplemental Web downloads don't just tell students about the African American experience, they submerse students in a history that shapes the present and will continue to shape the future. Contact me today to get educational DVD's and supplemental learning materials.

February 1st marks the start of Black History Month, when African-American history is celebrated in the classroom, on television and in daily life.

According to the Library of Congress, Black History Month has its roots in something called Negro History Week. In 1925, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, an African-American historian who founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, proposed Negro History Week as a way to encourage people to learn more about black history. He selected a week in February that included the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and black abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

The first Negro History Week was celebrated in February 1926. "The response was overwhelming," says the Library of Congress. "Black history clubs sprang up; teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils; and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort."

In the early 1970s, Negro History Week was rechristened Black History Week to reflect the changing language used to describe African-Americans. Then, in 1976, as America observed its bicentennial, Black History Week was expanded to the full month we celebrate today.

Every February since 1976, the U.S. president issues a proclamation declaring the second month of the year Black History Month or National African American History Month.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Study Traces Full Impact of Teen Driver Crashes

The impact of teen driver crashes extends far beyond teen drivers' families and friends, according to a new report.

In 2008, more than half a million (681,000) people were involved in crashes where a teen driver was behind the wheel. More than 40,000 were injured, and nearly 30 percent of those who died in these crashes were not in cars driven by teens. The teen driving report is from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and State Farm Insurance Companies.

"When most people think about those affected by teen driver crashes, they think of the teens behind the wheel. We must also consider the significant impact of these crashes on other members of our communities: occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and other road-users," says Dennis Durbin, M.D., co-scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at CHOP, and a co-author of the report.

"Whether we have a teen driver in our family or not, we should all care about this issue. This report provides a concrete way to measure the effectiveness of laws, education, and other programs in reducing teen crashes and their impact on communities."

The report sets forth 11 indicators to help policymakers and safety practitioners determine progress in key areas affecting teen driving safety. Researchers focused on four key behaviors among teen drivers that contribute to crashes or crash fatalities, that can also be tracked using federal data sources: failure to use seat belts, speeding, alcohol use, and distracted driving.

"Reducing speeding and alcohol use, increasing seat belt use, and eliminating distractions for teen drivers are the four calls-to-action we see in this report that would have great impact on reducing injuries and fatalities for all road users," says Dr. Durbin, who is also an emergency physician. "More than half of teens who were fatally injured in crashes were speeding, 40 percent had a positive blood alcohol level, more than half were not wearing seat belts, and 16 percent of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving."

The report also shows that more teens die from car crashes than from cancer, homicide, and suicide combined. Teen driver and peer passenger deaths account for one-quarter (24 percent) of total teen deaths from any cause. However, the authors stress that teen fatalities are just "the tip of the iceberg." Thousands more - including friends, family members, and others on the road - suffer physical injuries, psychological trauma, and disruption to their everyday lives.

Most of these tragedies are due to inexperience, and are therefore preventable, the researchers say. They strong Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws, which allow teens to gain experience under lower-risk conditions, are one effective preventive measure. They also recommend that public health programs and GDL and other traffic safety laws should focus on the key teen behaviors known to raise crash risk: speeding, alcohol use, distractions from peer passengers and cell phones, as well as failure to wear a seat belt.

The federal government recently expanded its Healthy People 2020 initiative to include target goals related to teen driving, including a 10 percent reduction in fatality rate and a 10 percent increase in seat belt use.

The full report and more information can be found at

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Prepare Home for Snow and Cold Weather

Add the following supplies to your disaster supplies kit:
1. Rock salt to melt ice on walkways
2. Sand to improve traction
3. Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.

Prepare your home and family
1. Prepare for possible isolation in your home by having sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel sources may be cut off. For example, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.

2. Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.

3. Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.

3. Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.

4. Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.

5. Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends, neighbors or employees.

6. Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow - or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.

How to Prepare Your Vehicle for The Snow/cold Weather

Here are a few tips and ideas on preparing your vehicle for the snow/cold weather.

1.First thing first make sure your vehicle is well maintained. Check the oil, anti-freeze, brakes, tire pressure, heater, battery, etc.. These are the simplest things you can do to avoid either breaking down or getting stuck in the snow or cold weather.

2.KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS. If it is expected to be below freezing or it is supposed to snow and your vehicle is either not in the best shape or suitable for the snow don't go to far or just don't go out at all. If it is freezing outside and your car is on its last leg to go far from home that way if it breaks down you wont have to far to go. If there is snow,either a lot or a little,keep in mind the type of vehicle you drive. Trucks dont do well in snow, especially if there is a lot. Even the big trucks have problems. make sure you put sands bags in your truck bed or, if there is a lot, fill it with snow to weigh down your back end. If the snow starts to pile up be very cautious driving through big drifts. If it is any deeper then a couple of inches find a different route. Once the snow gets that bad that is when it might just be best to stay home.

3. Here are a few basic things you should keep in your vehicle in case you find yourself broken down on the side of the road on a cold day: extra pair of gloves, beanie/snow cap, hoodie/jacket, boots, blanket, flashlight, lighter, small first aid kit, ice scraper. This way if you leave for work and forget your gloves and you end up breaking down you have a pair of gloves already in your car. Just make sure whatever you use gets put back in the car.

4. For those of you that want to be prepared for any occasion here are a few other things that would be handy to keep in your vehicle if you have the space: a gallon of water, something to snack on; beef jerky works well, a basic tool kit, power inverter, extra phone charger/car charger, rechargeable batteries and charger, rechargeable lantern, folding camp shovel, automobile fire extinguisher, emergency road kit, road flares, a can of tire patch repair. Most of this stuff would fit inside a normal backpack that you could keep in the back seat or trunk.

5. Hopefully this information was useful in helping you preparing your vehicle for cold weather. These are good things to keep in your vehicle at all times of the year even when it isn't cold out.

Read more: How to Prepare Your Vehicle for The Snow/cold Weather |

Thursday, January 20, 2011

10-4 good buddy

Semis. 18-wheelers. Extra-long buses. RVs and towed trailers. From country roads to city streets, big rigs of all kinds are everywhere. If you’re not aware of their limitations, sharing the road with these large vehicles can be dangerous. For example, trucks don’t have the same stop-and-go capacity as passenger cars. And, considering their height and weight, they can inflict serious damage to smaller vehicles and their passengers — not to mention pedestrians. Here are some driving tips that may help keep you and your passengers safe when you’re sharing the road with a big rig:

•Be aware of “no zones” — Large trucks have blind spots around the front, back and sides of the vehicle. Try and stay out of these areas because the driver can’t see you. Take away: If you can’t see the driver in the truck’s mirror, the driver can’t see you.

•Passing rules — Before making a move, make sure you can see the front of the truck in your rear-view mirror. Don’t flash your lights; it’s not a universal signal and may only serve to confuse. Take away: Always signal your intent, pass on the left and pass quickly.

•Changing lanes — Large trucks take longer to stop than a car traveling at the same speed so they need greater braking distance. Take away: Don’t pull in front of a large truck and suddenly slow down or stop. The trucker may not be able to stop quickly enough to avoid crashing into you.

•Avoid a “squeeze play” — In order to negotiate a right turn, particularly in urban areas, truck drivers sometimes swing wide to the left. They can’t see directly behind or beside their vehicle so don’t create a “squeeze” by cutting between the truck and the curb. Take away: Pay attention to truck signals and give them plenty of room to maneuver.

Be extra cautious.

As you share the roads and highways with trucks, buses and large hauling vehicles, be attentive and stay focused. It may help you share the road safely.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Top 10 Grand Theft Auto Stories of 2010

Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Jovan Haye knows a thing or two about defense -- but when thieves stole his luxury SUV, he was powerless to intercept them. Fortunately, his car's security tracking device allowed him to recover his vehicle.

Haye told AOL Autos he "felt violated" when he learned that his 2010 Range Rover Sport had been stolen by a professional car theft ring after he'd taken it into his dealership for a routine service. "It belonged to me," he said. "You work hard for things in your life."

Fortunately for Haye, the car was located within two hours of it being reported missing and tracked electronically to Nashville International Airport. The car had sustained only minor damage to its paintwork and, after a quick clean-up, Haye was able to drive it to practice the following week.

"Replacing a new car's a hassle. I'm just glad to get my car back," Haye said.

Haye is not alone in having a stolen car recovered and returned to him. Across the nation, a car is stolen every 27 seconds. The most stolen late-model cars include the Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Silverado, Dodge Charger and Infiniti G37, while older vehicles that are often stolen include the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Dodge Caravan.

Thieves are also routinely stealing high-value components, and in many cases, they will steal the whole vehicle to get the prize they're after. In one widely reported case -- the theft of civil rights campaigner Jesse Jackson's Escalade last year -- it was the Escalade's leather seat covers the thieves were after.

Patrick Clancy, a representative at LoJack, which manufacturers a range of auto-recovery devices, said car owners can expect a recovery rate of 90 percent or more when using his company's theft recovery devices. "LoJack helps police track down the criminals behind vehicle theft, which is often committed as part of a much bigger crime. So, LoJack actually helps get these bad guys off of the streets."

Typically, once a car owner alerts the theft-recovery system that their car is missing, a car's tracking device will be activated and the local police department notified. Often, sensing the chance to net a wider gang of criminals, police units will be mobilized to search for the vehicle. In some instances, vehicles can be recovered in minutes, and having a theft-recovery device installed on your car can help reduce your auto insurance.

Some auto recovery tales border on the unbelievable. An Escalade owner in Dallas found his car was tracked to a storage unit where 13 other stolen GM vehicles were being parted out for profit. The total recovery value of all the cars was about a quarter of a million dollars. Electronic tracking devices also played a part in locating a 2001 Corvette in Southern California that had been stolen for the unbelievable ninth time. In a sad tale, after a Greensboro, N.C., man was found dead and his car missing, police were able to apprehend a murder suspect.

See Lojack's complete list below:

10. Major Chop Shop Busted – Dallas police tracked a 2003 Cadillac Escalade equipped with LoJack and discovered a total of 13 stolen GM vehicles, valued at $234,500.

9. LoJack Tackles Recovery for NFL Player – A Land Rover owned by Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Jovan Haye was stolen from a dealership's service center and recovered at the Nashville International Airport.

8. LoJack System Foils Lamborghini Thief – Miami-Dade police recovered two Lamborghini Gallardos – worth a combined value of $370,000 – which were rented with fraudulent credit cards from an exotic car rental company. Both vehicles were recovered in a little over an hour.

7. VIN Switching Doesn't Fool LoJack – A stolen Dodge Caravan led Rhode Island police to discover a VIN switching theft ring involving more than 10 stolen vehicles.

6. Thieving Tow Truck Driver –Philadelphia police tracked down a stolen BMW equipped with LoJack, taken at the hands of a tow truck driver who later admitted to towing and stealing a full 27 vehicles – all of which had been taken to a junkyard to be crushed for profit!

5. Saving Police Bait Car – LoJack helped Sacramento police recover its stolen Acura Integra bait car, which is used to catch car thieves in the act.

4. Professional Cadillac Thief Thwarted – A stolen Cadillac equipped with LoJack led detectives to a chop shop. The suspect later admitted to stealing and stripping 400 Cadillacs over a three-year period.

3. LoJack Gives Vehicle Nine Lives – A 2001 Corvette was stolen and recovered for the ninth time. In this instance, the vehicle was tracked down in less than an hour.

2. LoJack Makes a "Key" Recovery – A brazen thief broke into a dealership in Washington and stole a 2003 Hummer along with the keys to 60 other vehicles on the lot. Fortunately, the Hummer was tracked down by police in less than two hours. All the keys were found in the recovered vehicle.

1. LoJack Leads Police to Murder Victim's Killer – A stolen pickup led police to discover the identity and arrest an alleged murderer, who killed the vehicle's owner and drove away with the victim's vehicle. Gaston, NC, police picked up the vehicle's signal only 16 minutes after activation about 100 miles away from the crime scene. They later arrested the suspect for first-degree murder and other crimes.

Read more from our partner Motor Trend: Top 10 Celebrity Rides.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Win 2 tickets to the Super Bowl!

We just launched a contest to win 2 tickets to the Super Bowl!

The winner also gets travel and two nights stay at a luxury hotel near the spectacular new Cowboys Stadium!
Entering to win is easy: Visit

Good luck!!
~ David Lorms

Sunday, January 2, 2011

How do I get insurance without having a car?

Question: I got a DUI a few years ago and have never needed to get my license I'm about to have my first child and really need to get it back if I need to drive somewhere but I do not have a car. But I need insurance to get it back. Any help will be great. Thank you.
Asked by Ryan

Answer: You can purchase a "non owners" auto policy, that will cover you when drving other vehciles. David Lorms