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Allen & Stults Co., Inc. Blog


Why You Need a Personal Umbrella Policy

One of the most important insurance policies you can buy is the personal umbrella policy, but many people are unaware they need one. This policy provides high limits of liability to protect you against a catastrophic liability loss. For example, a major car accident may injure numerous people or cause head injuries or death that will result in liability far in excess of the limits typically purchased in a personal auto policy. An umbrella policy sits on top of the auto and homeowners policies to provide higher limits of protection. In addition to providing higher limits, this policy normally pays for some losses not covered by the underlying policy, such as legitimate allegations concerning libel or slander.

 

Personal umbrella policies are growing in popularity. In the past, only wealthy individuals and families purchased this coverage. Today, middle-income families also may procure this policy for protection in our society's increasingly litigious climate. As the tendency to sue for damages rises and awards granted by the courts grow, the personal umbrella policy is increasingly seen as an insurance necessity, rather than a luxury. It is especially attractive because of its relatively low cost.

 

In particular, people with certain characteristics or who engage in certain activities have a higher-than-average need for a personal umbrella policy. These situations include the following.

  • Your total assets are greater than your underlying liability limits.
  • You are financially responsible for the actions of a young, inexperienced driver.
  • You live in an exclusive and affluent neighborhood.
  • You have a high-profile career or high income.
  • You frequently host guests on your property.
  • Your residence includes a swimming pool.
  • You own waterfront property, a farm, or a ranch.
  • You own watercraft, aircraft, or off-road vehicles.
  • You own numerous rental properties.
  • You engage in extensive international travel for pleasure.

Indeed, one could even argue that a lower-income person needs an umbrella policy. Consider an apartment dweller who inadvertently starts a fire while smoking in bed, and the fire damages adjoining apartments. The smoker's liability exposure could be enormous in such a situation. So, once again, a personal umbrella policy is a wise purchase for people in nearly all income groups.

Get more personal lines insurance and risk management tips and ideas from IRMI.

Copyright 2014

International Risk Management Institute, Inc. 


Emergency Preparedness

Source: wunderground.com

Source: wunderground.com

Thankfully, Hurricane Joaquin is forecast to go to out to sea with no direct impact to the East Coast, Our thoughts go to those in the Bahamas and surrounding islands who have taken a direct hit from the Category 4 hurricane.

There is flooding forecast in our area over the weekend from a coastal storm located over North Carolina.  Although it’s been very dry for the past few months, flooding can happen.  Now is a good time check to see how prepared you are for potential storm.

Here’s some tips to help get started:

  • Check your homeowners policy to make sure coverage is adequate.  Make sure the homeowners policy includes water and sewer backup coverage.   Water and sewer backup coverage protects your home from damage caused by sump pump failure (power outage, mechanical failure), or the sewer backing up into the home.  This coverage is excluded unless added to the policy.
  • If you are in an area that is prone to flooding, make sure you have a separate flood insurance policy.  Flood damage is never covered under a homeowners policy.  Even if your home has never flooded, there are examples of leaves and debris covering storm drains that caused flood damage to homes.  If you are in an area that is not prone to flooding, you could qualify for a preferred rate on a flood policy.
  • Always have extra batteries, flashlights, and candles.  You don’t want the power going out at night, and not knowing where anything is.
  • If there is heavy rain, and the power goes out, or if your sump pump cannot keep up with the water entering the basement, I have found a few products that can help pump water out of the sump hole using battery or manual power:
  • Battery powered bilge pump : http://www.amazon.com/BigTProducts-Battery-Powered-Bilge-Pump/dp/B00FSWTP3S
  • Hand operated pump: http://www.amazon.com/SeaSense-Hand-Bilge-Pump-20-Inch/dp/B004XACS30/ref=sr_1_1?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1443798943&sr=1-1&keywords=hand+water+pump
  • If you have a generator, have a 5 gallon gas tank filled, and an extra quart of 10w/30 oil on hand.   Start the generator periodically to make sure it runs.  You don’t want to find out the generator doesn’t work when you need it.
  • Fill the cars with gas before the storm arrives.
  • A few gallons of water in case there is flooding, or your towns water supply is contaminated.
  • Dry, or non perishable food.  Canned items, soup, etc.  Enough to last a few days.

Ready.gov has a great resource and checklists to help prepare for natural disasters.  Here’s the link for hurricanes: http://community.fema.gov/hazard/hurricane/be-smart

If you have an emergency claim, or would like a review of your homeowners or flood insurance to make sure coverage is sufficient, feel free to contact our office.

Have a safe and dry weekend!


Holiday BBQ Safety

source: David McSpadden on flickr.com https://www.flickr.com/photos/familyclan/

source: David McSpadden on flickr.com https://www.flickr.com/photos/familyclan/

With Labor Day upon us, and a great weather forecast, naturally we will be doing a lot of barbecuing this weekend.  Here’s a few safety suggestions to consider before starting the BBQ marathon:

  • Keep the barbecue grill at least 7 ft away from the house.  Fires can be easily started, and siding melted when the grill is in close proximity to the home.
  • Many homeowners use their decks or porches as an outside living area.  Keep porch or deck furniture away from the grill.
  • If using charcoal, remember to let the charcoal cool completely before properly disposing.
  • Speaking of charcoal, never use lighter fluid to start the charcoal.  Use a proper chimney charcoal starter.  It gets charcoal burning faster, and this will keep the food from tasting like lighter fluid…just sayin.
  • Never let small children play near the grill.  With many hosting bbq parties, there’s a good chance kids will be running around and throwing balls, other siblings, etc.  Keeping them away from the hot grill ensures a safe weekend.
  • Be mindful of open flames around propane tanks. Fire pits are very popular now, and accidents can happen.  Propane tanks are extremely dangerous if not careful.

With these tips, you are off to have successful barbecue party. and a safe Labor Day weekend, have fun!


Protect Your Secondary Home

Image by David Mertl on Flickr {link to https://www.flickr.com/photos/dmertl/5963103547/in/photolist-a5WsW8-vg4BT8-quMyLf-7JYcG4-b5wwwt-9CvFup-88UHCZ-6AtRa4-pcTdNq-5Ra8H4-vuusdN-5aqc-du1KNE-4p7ZAG-wxyjPm-58hpFL-fkP6My-83dUAx-8eS8bP-8My9Xb-vA1pdE-nPrrR2-4p7Zro-338ZqU-ffS8Tt-5NR6Ad-cV2JNm-8prndN-pDngGY-jBkNxR-6Ay1ah-6AtMm6-6AtTRF-8uKm11-5PhWSa-6AxZ3y-6AtViX-5NV76R-by96Xa-6AtPWr-6AxXzE-9653Mp-by96YM-fFFugp-5pMfqf-8x3c7V-qeoHAa-6AtTag-4E9QzY-fNhPpn}

Image by David Mertl via Flickr

Secondary or vacation homes often have greater exposure to loss since the home owner is not present for extended periods of time. Here are some tips to follow to reduce the chance of suffering a loss to your secondary home.

  • Ask a neighbor or the police to periodically check your home for any problems.
  • Use programmable interior and exterior lighting, with varying times, to make it appear the home is continuously occupied.
  • Utilize the services of a burglar alarm system with a central reporting feature.
  • Turn off the water to the home if possible to reduce the chances of an undetected water loss.
  • Store valuables in a safety deposit box.
  • Utilize the occasional services of a house sitter to check for interior leaks or signs of other problems.

Get more personal lines insurance and risk management tips and ideas from IRMI.

Copyright 2014
International Risk Management Institute, Inc.


Allen & Stults Honored as New Jersey Family Business of the Year

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Madison, NJ (September 29, 2014) — Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurship will host the 22nd Annual New Jersey Family Business of the Year Awards. The event with take place on Wednesday, October 15, 2014 at the Crystal Plaza in Livingston, N.J. with a reception at 11:30 a.m. and the luncheon and awards ceremony following at noon.

Businesses are judged on rate of growth over the last three years, their philanthropic and economic impact, how they have overcome challenges, their vision for the future, and other factors.

In the Up to $10 Million category, honorees are: Bornstein Sons, Inc. of Fairfield; Flynn and Son Funeral Homes of Fords/Edison, Perth Amboy, and Metuchen; Giambri’s Quality Sweets of Clementon; G&G Realtors of Oakhurst and Deal; Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant of Montclair; McRae Capital Management, Inc. of Morristown; and Things 4 Strings of Livingston

In the Over $10 Million category, honorees are: Allen & Stults Company, Inc. of Hightstown; Elberon Development Group of Cranford; Gibraltar Laboratories, Inc. of  Fairfield; Jack Daniels Motors of Upper Saddle River; My Limo of East Hanover; Ski Barn of Paramus; and Wine Chateau of Metuchen.

The program is sponsored by: New Jersey Monthly; PNC Bank; Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurship at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Silberman College of Business; Camarès Communications; Crystal Plaza; CohnReznick LLP; and Schenck, Price, Smith & King, LLP.


How to Burglar Proof Your Home

US residences were burglarized nearly 1.6 million times in 2012, according to the latest Federal Bureau of Investigation studies. Approximately 66 percent of the thefts occur during the day because people are often not at home during the weekday. Proper home theft prevention ideas and techniques, however, can reduce the odds of a home burglary. Consider the following loss control techniques to reduce your chances of suffering a home burglary.

  • Lots of light at night can keep the burglars away after the sun goes down. Exterior lights with a motion-sensing switch should be installed; timers on lights are also recommended.
  • Ask your neighbors to keep a watch on your home if you are away during the day. If you are on vacation, ask them to keep your front steps or driveway clear of newspapers and flyers.
  • Invest in a burglar alarm with a central monitoring station. Research indicates that homes without security systems are about three times more likely to be broken into than homes with security systems. If a burglar is aware that a home has an alarm, he or she is more likely to avoid that home.
  • Property identification programs are another deterrent to burglary. Many of these programs involve the use of stickers on which your driver’s license number is imprinted. These are then placed (and become permanently imprinted) on all valuable personal property, such as stereos, televisions, and computers. This makes it more difficult for burglars to fence or pawn the property.
  • Safeguarding dwelling components such as doors and windows makes it tougher for burglars to enter the home. Many home security experts recommend all exterior doors be 1¾-inch-thick solid wood, metal, or composite material. Strike plates on door jams are typically installed with half-inch screws; however, these should be replaced with 3-inch-long screws so that locked doors cannot be kicked in easily. Doors should also have deadbolt locks, with at least a 1-inch throw and a reinforced strike plate with 3-inch screws.
  • Keep your garage door secure and locked even while you are home.

Get more personal lines insurance and risk management tips and ideas from IRMI.


Trusted Choice Agent Testimonial

One of the most important aspects of being a Trusted Choice insurance agent, is our assistance in a claim.   This is a quick testimonial on the unique claims assistance only an Trusted Choice agent can provide:

Trusted Choice Agents


Popping the Bigger Question: Who should insure the engagement ring?

Purchasing an engagement ring is a big decision and you should be equipped with the right information before making your purchase. Here’s a guide on making a purchase that will make your fiancée, bank account, and Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent say “Yes!”

Brace the bank

An engagement ring is an investment, and (thankfully) you get to dictate how much you’re willing to risk. According to www.theknot.com in 2013, the average cost of an engagement ring is $5,431. If that price makes you cringe, no worries—you can still find a great ring for a little less, but read the next section to ensure you don’t compromise quality for price.

Understanding Girls’ Best Friend

There are four elements to determining quality of a diamond- carat, clarity, color, and cut. Educate yourself on these elements. A carat is a diamond’s weight, not size, so don’t be fooled by how big a diamond may seem; the clarity is an assessment of a diamond’s internal and natural characteristics. The color and cut of a diamond depends on preference; color is graded on an alphabetical scale, and cut varies, but affects the way the gem shines.

Certified & Appraised

Ask the jeweler for the assessment of the diamond and a GIA diamond grading report. An assessment of the diamond on the jeweler’s stationary protects you in the event that the jeweler misrepresented the value and facts about the ring. A GIA diamond grading report also serves as backup verification for your purchase— the Gemological Institute of America is the most respected lab in the world. If your jeweler cannot provide the assessment or GIA report, back out of the store slowly and find another jeweler.

Now the REAL big question: Who should insure the engagement ring?

You proposed, but your fiancée will live in their condo until the big day– what do you do? This is a matter of insurable interest. When you purchase valuables (like an engagement ring) for someone else and you want to insure the item, you are trying to create insurable interest. Insurable interest says, “I have a strong interest in this item but it does not reside in my home with me; however, I should be able to insure it for a period of time.”

The easiest way to create insurable interest for the person in possession of the ring is to make the use of the ring by her conditional…i.e., you still own the ring and it doesn’t become your future spouse’s until you both are married. Until that time, you have an insurable interest and there should be coverage under your policy.

If you make ownership conditional on marriage, you likely have an insurable interest and can insure it yourself. Since most homeowners policies limit theft of jewelry to about $1,500 (some less, some more), the ring should be scheduled on his homeowners policy. An alternative is for your fiancée to insure it on their policy since coverage usually extends to any property you use, not just property you own. This assumes that either or both have homeowners policies (or they live at home and are covered by their parents’ policies). When you are married, you both should have a single homeowners policy with both as named insureds and the ring and other jewelry scheduled on the policy.

Be sure to talk to your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent about all of your options and steps to getting your new future off to a bright start!


Avoid Frozen Pipes

Here’s some helpful tips on how to avoid frozen pipes from Plymouth Rock:

http://blog.plymouthrocknj.com/preventing-frozen-pipes-as-temperatures-plummet/


Have a Safe Halloween from Trusted Choice

Halloween is just around the corner and many consumers may not realize how frightening this spooky night could really be for their personal safety, their property or their bank accounts. Trusted Choice® independent agents can help families better prepare for Halloween hazards that may come in disguise or under the cloak of dark. 
To help families and businesses have a good time and protect themselves against scarier Halloween risks, Trusted Choice®, the consumer branding program for independent insurance agents and brokers, offers the following safety tips:

  • Don’t be a Scary Driver: Drive sober, slowly and even more carefully than usual on Halloween. Watch for children who may be running or wearing dark costumes in the road.
  • Stay Accident-free: Remove or move lawn furniture, or any other obstacles, to avoid accidents or damage. Ensure your home’s entry is in good condition, free of loose or broken pieces on stairwells and walkways to avoid trick-or-treaters’ injuries on your property.
  • Prevent Fire Dangers: Prevent fires by making sure pumpkins containing candles are placed at a distance where a child’s costume cannot be ignited or a curious guest may tip it over. Extinguish all candles before going to bed. Consider using battery operated lights wherever possible. A variety of Jack-O-Lantern lights are available at most stores that sell Halloween decor.
  • Costume Safety: Costumes can hide more than someone’s true identity, such as hazards. All disguises should be made from flame-resistant materials and shouldn’t be too long or contain sharp accessories. Avoid masks that may obscure vision and stick to use hypo-allergenic make-up.
  • See and Be Seen: Encourage each trick-or-treater and adult chaperones to carry a flashlight. Apply light-reflecting material to costumes.
  • Hear and Be Heard: Make sure your hearing isn’t impaired with cumbersome costumes or ear buds. Be alert to the sounds of moving vehicles, other groups of pedestrians or bicyclists, and listen to all of your surroundings.
  • Power in Numbers: When traveling on foot, walk in groups and cross only at corners and crosswalks—never between parked cars—and stay on well-lit streets. 
    Unwelcomed Guests: Property vandals often use the chaos of Halloween night to strike. Scare them away by keeping outdoor lights on.
  • Pet Safety: Keep pets inside. Warn your children to stay away from animals as they go door-to-door. Halloween night can be stressful, even on the friendliest on the friendliest creature including the neighborhood dogs and cats.
  • Candy Inspection:  Cavities aren’t the only candy-related risks on Halloween. Inspect all trick-or-treat candy and other treats. Never eat unwrapped items. Collect candy only from people you know and trust and ask the local police department if it offers a candy x-ray and/or inspection service. Throw away any suspicious candy. 

For more information on Halloween safety or to speak with a Trusted Choice® or IIABA expert, please contact Sue Nester (broadcast), (703) 706-5448, susan.nester@iiaba.net or Margarita Tapia (print) at (703) 706-5374, margarita.tapia@iiaba.net.


Reduce Your Exposure to Auto Intersection Accidents


Automobile crashes causing injuries and property damage occur at the highest rates in cities. One study indicates that 81 percent of crashes occur in urban locations. Another study reports that approximately 43 percent of auto accidents are intersection-related incidents. The following intersection safety tips are ones for you to consider.

  • Plan ahead. Get into the lane you need for your next turn well in advance of reaching the intersection. It is essential that your turn signal be activated before making the turn.
  • Avoid speeding. You need plenty of time to react to motorists who make intersection mistakes.
  • Be aware of other vehicles changing lanes. Try to stay out of other drivers’ “blind spots” where they cannot see you in their rear and side mirrors.
  • Always stop behind the marked crosswalk. This will give other drivers better views of the intersection and avoid mishaps with pedestrians.
  • Avoid entering an intersection when the traffic is backed up on the other side. This could result in you getting stuck in the middle of the intersection if this traffic does not move.

Get more personal lines insurance and risk management tips and ideas from IRMI.

 

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Allen & Stults Co., Inc.

106 North Main St.
Hightstown, NJ 08520
Main office: 609-448-0110
Toll free: 800-792-8660

Our Providers

Dear Mrs. Mazzoli, Many thanks for all your help over the last few days with Timmy and his first car. We got it yesterday and Timmy is taking off today for New Hampshire. It was a relief knowing that you would have all the answers to my questions and as always, quick to respond to my emails. I attached a photo of Timmy and his car, a product of your knowledge and work...I could never have figured all this out without you!
Tim and Timmy
You have always considered and treated your clients as if they were family. You are an asset to your community. We wish you much continued success and are proud to be your clients and friends.
Thanks "Cappy" for all of the wonderful service and advice you have provided to the fraternity over these many years, Always professional and never too busy to assist in any way
We have had our home and auto through your company for 9 years and have been very happy with the service and prompt responses from our representative - Cathy Mazzolli.
It is no wonder that you have achieved such an honor with the wonderful service and personalized attention you offer your clients.
Through the years, your service to our Society has been greatly appreciated. Our best wishes to you and all who are part of Allen & Stults Co. Inc.
We value our association with you and your staff and wish you many more years of success.