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Mature Driver Concerns

It is important for family members to have conversations about safe driving, especially with mature drivers. Mature drivers are more at risk of getting into accidents, and these accidents could be fatal. Therefore, it is important to talk to mature drivers about driver safety. "Of the older adults surveyed who reported that someone had talked to them about their driving, more than half said they listened to and followed the suggestions of others." Having these conversations makes a difference.

See this website for more information about how to spark conversations with mature drivers about defensive driving and driver safety.

Get even more advice on having family conversations about Alzheimer's disease, dementia and driving.


Proper Watercraft Insurance Protection

Spring is often the time of year when boat lovers start to consider purchasing a sailboat or powerboat. Many people, however, are unaware of the significant loss exposures associated with boat ownership, and some people mistakenly believe that there is coverage available under their personal auto policy (PAP). Virtually no PAPs, though, provide any liability or physical damage coverage for boats. Other people may look to their homeowners policy for coverage. But most homeowners policies only cover losses arising from certain low-valued or low-powered boats. 

  • If you purchase a boat valued over $1,500, you probably lack proper coverage under your homeowners policy for physical damage losses to the boat itself. A separate watercraft or boatowners policy for physical damage losses to the boat itself. A separate watercraft or boatowners policy is necessary to cover the physical damage to boats over this value.
  • If you are considering the purchase of a sailboat, inquire about its length. If the length is 26 feet or more, there is no liability coverage under your homeowners policy. For motorboats, there are severe horsepower restrictions under the homeowners policy for liability coverage. For example, only insureds who own or lease boats with outboard motors of 25 horsepower or less have liability coverage under most homeowners policies. Yet most powerboats have motors with horsepower far exceeding this amount. This liability coverage restriction also necessitates the purchase of separate watercraft insurance.
  • If you do purchase an older boat, consider ordering a marine survey or inspection of it prior to the sale. Marie surveys point out deficiencies in watercraft that may cause you to reconsider the purchase or renegotiate its price.

If you don't already have one, procure a personal umbrella policy in addition to a watercraft policy, particularly if you purchase a speedboat, a boat designed for water skiing, or some other craft with a high potential to cause damage or loss of life. Umbrella policies are relatively inexpensive, and since most forms do not have limitations with respect to watercraft policy. In addition, the watercraft liability limits should meet the underlying limits requirements of any applicable personal umbrella policy.

Copyright © 2008 International Risk Management Institute, Inc.


Watercraft Statistics

Nearly 66 million Americans participated in recreational boating in 2009, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. These Americans spent over $30 billion in 2009 for new and used boats, motors and engines, trailers, accessories, and other associated costs. Nearly 13 million boat registrations were in force in the United States and its territories at the end of 2009. It is estimated there are an additional 4 million unregistered boats.

This heavy boating activity has inevitably led to a large number of boating accidents. One study estimates that there were approximately 30,000 or more nonfatal nonadmitted boating injuries in 2002, although this figure may seriously under represent the total number of accidents. Because of this concern, a study was conducted by comparing governmental fatal and nonfatal injury data in calendar year 2002 with data for the same period from other government sources widely used in the analysis of injuries. Based on reasonable estimates of the relative social and economic costs of various types of accidents (fatal, nonfatal hospital admitted, and nonfatal nonadmitted), the extent of under reporting (in economic terms) is approximately 25 percent. See the U.S. Coast Guard for more details at

The study confirmed that reported boating losses represent only the tip of the iceberg. For example, there were 6,335 boat accidents reported to the Coast Guard in 1993. When the insurer statistics were extrapolated to the boating population, it was estimated that there were actually 170,159 reportable accidents in 1993. This meant that only 3.7 percent of the accidents were actually reported to the agency responsible for boating safety. It further showed that there were 7,247 injuries versus 3,559 reported. In addition, it indicated $714 million in actual losses versus $20.2 million reported to the Coast Guard.

Some of the reasons for the low rate of reporting are the following.

  • Ignorance of the reporting requirements
  • Fear of or contempt for administrative or judicial censure
  • Insufficient enforcement presence on the waterways
  • No incentive to report

State Boating Law Administrators also note that a significant number of boat operators who are required to report an accident fail to do so out of fear that a penalty will be imposed against their automobile driver's license. Furthermore, many boat operators involved in accidents when drinking alcoholic beverages fail to report the accident to avoid incriminating themselves. In addition, enforcement of the reporting requirements is difficult, and given other enforcement demands, accident-reporting violations often do not receive a high priority. There is a consensus that the more serious the accident, the more likely it will be reported.

In recent years, recreational boating accidents (after automobile accidents) accounted for the second largest number of transportation fatalities annually—more than those reported for general aviation, rail transportation, and bus transportation. The total property damage for boating accidents in 2008 was approximately $54 million versus $35 million in 2004.

Copyright © 2008 International Risk Management Institute, Inc.


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Watercraft Exposures

Watercraft are exposed to a variety of property, liability, medical payments, and uninsured boaters loss exposures. Property losses can affect not only the boat, motor, and trailer, but also navigation equipment, heaters, safety equipment, and radios. Examples of property losses include the following.

  • Two cruisers collide with each other
  • A sailboat's mast breaks in heavy winds
  • A bass boat is stolen from the insured's residence
  • A boat breaks loose from its moorings in a tropical storm, runs up on the rocks, and sinks
  • A houseboat is stranded on a sandbar, damaging its hull
  • An outboard motor is improperly installed and it falls into the lake
  • A boat trailer is stolen at the marina
  • A racing boat is damaged by a major hailstorm at the marina
  • a daytripper collides with a pier and is damaged
  • A fire engulfs a speedboat
  • A high-performance boat hits a submerged object during a race
  • A yacht strikes a floating steel cargo container lost from a ship, puncturing its hull
  • A sportfishing boat is struck by lightning, incapacitating its electrical system
  • Safety equipment such as flotation devices and fire extinguishers are stolen from a boat
  • An outboard motor, stored in the insured's garage, is stolen
  • A runabout sinks in shallow water and needs to be raised

Examples of liability losses include the following.

  • An insured's friend is water skiing behind the insured's boat and she falls into the lake, injuring herself, due to the excessive speed of the boat
  • An insured boat operator negligently causes another boat to overturn to avoid a collision
  • The insured, while speeding in his cigarette boat, negligently collides with a cabin cruiser, causing damage to the cruiser and injuries to its passengers
  • An inebriated insured is operating his boat and negligently strikes and kills a swimmer
  • The insured's outboard motor explodes, seriously injuring a guest
  • The insured's yacht collides with a pier, causing damage to the pier and its resulting loss of use
  • A child of the insured's friend, not protected with a life jacket, falls overboard from the insured's boat and drowns
  • The insured's guest trips over a loose cable on the deck, and strikes his head while falling
  • Due to the insured's negligence, a fire breaks out on his docked boat, which spreads to a nearby docked craft
  • An insured charters a boat with a captain, who negligently capsizes the boat resulting in the drowning of the insured's guest
  • The insured's cruiser suffers a large fuel spill at the dock

Medical Payments coverage normally applies to an insured person or the insured person's guest, resulting from injury involving the operation, maintenance, or use of the described watercraft, regardless of negligence. Examples of medical payments losses include the following.

  • The insured's neighbor accidentally burns himself while cooking on the insured's houseboat
  • The insured's resident child injures her back while water skiing
  • The insured trips in the boat and breaks his ankle
  • While attempting to step onto the boat, the insured's mother falls back onto the pier

Uninsured boatowners coverage provides coverage for damages to an insured who is legally entitled to recover from the owner or operator of an uninsured watercraft. Damages include medical and related costs, loss of income, and pain and suffering. (Note that uninsured boaters property damage is virtually never provided.) The uninsured boaters exposure is large, considering the high number of uninsured boaters.

If you have any watercraft exposures, please call our office for a review of your loss exposures and insurance solutions.

Copyright © 2008 International Risk Management Institute, Inc.


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Tips for Safe Driving on the Freeway

As you are aware, automobile accidents are a major cause of death in the United States. They are the single most common cause of death among children and young adults, according to the United States Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA reports that over 6 million police-reported automobile accidents occur annually, which constitutes one every five seconds. On average, a person is injured in one of these crashes every ten seconds and a person is killed every twelve minutes. The NHTSA estimates that the annual cost of automobile accidents is $230 billion.

A high percentage of these automobile accident deaths occur on our nation's freeways and highways due to the high rates of speed encountered. Here are a few tips to keep in mind the next time you're driving on the freeway.

1. When merging onto the freeway, the driver should be at average traffic speed.

2. When in the right lane of a freeway, the driver should move over one lane to the left when he or she sees drivers coming into traffic from the entrance ramp. If this is not possible, they should slow down to give the entering driver more room.

3. Drivers should allow plenty of room between themselves and the other vehicles. Many driving experts advocate the two-second rule. Under this rule, operators should start counting when they see the vehicle in front of the, pass a fixed object. They should count "one thousand one, one thousand two." If the driver reaches the fixed object before "two," they are following too closely.

4. Operators should try to maintain average traffic speed. Vehicles going much slower or faster than other traffic are a recipe for an accident. However, common sense regarding speeding laws must also be considered.

5. Drivers should use extra caution when driving at night or in bad weather. Remember that many drivers do not adjust their driving habits for the weather or bad road conditions.

6. Operators should avoid any sudden moves since this does not give other drivers time to react.

7. Drivers need to continuously scan the roadway ahead for signs of trouble, including construction and traffic slowdowns.

8. Drivers must be aware of the positions of other drivers around them, particularly those to the side or slightly to the rear. Rearview mirrors should be properly adjusted before the operator drives the car.

9. Remember that reaction times and overall driving skills of drivers decline as they become tired. Breaks every few hours are important.

10. When exiting the freeway, drivers should signal well in advance. They should not slow down significantly until they start to turn off the freeway. 

Copyright © 2008 International Risk Management Institute, Inc.


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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 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.

Copyright © 2008 International Risk Management Institute, Inc.


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Protect Your Interests after an Auto Accident

While we certainly hope you are never involved in an auto accident, we realize that they do happen. That's the reason we're in business; that's the reason you trusted us to find the right auto insurance for you. If you are ever involved in an accident, the following suggestions will help the claim process move ahead smoothly.

  • Make sure that everyone is unhurt—in your car and any others involved. If anyone is injured call 911 immediately. Even if you think your injuries are minor, it is probably a good idea to have them checked out—either at the hospital or with your family doctor. A seemingly minor injury could turn out to be more serious.
  • Call the police. They can help defuse a difficult situation and ascertain who is at fault. Make sure that the police on the scene get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all other involved parties. Ask for a copy of the police report from the officer.
  • If you happen to have a camera with you—or a smart phone—take some photos of the vehicles involved, the general area where the accident occurred, and skid marks.
  • If possible, safely move the cars out of the way of traffic.
  • Do not admit or discuss liability with anyone other than staff at our office or your insurer.
  • Get the following information about everyone involved in the accident: name, address, driver's license number, license plate number, description of car, e-mail address, all phone number (home, work, and cell), and auto insurance information. Also, obtain contact information from any witness to the accident.
  • Report the accident immediately to our office. You can call us at 315-853-5052.
  • While the details are still fresh in your mind, write your own account of the accident. Be sure to make note of anything the other involved parties said about their injuries or about how they may have contributed to or avoided the accident.

Copyright © 2008 International Risk Management Institute, Inc.


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Tips Covering Auto Theft

Every 30 seconds, a motor vehicle is stolen in the United States. Using Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reports that annual property losses from these thefts are approximately $5 billion. The following tips may prove helpful in reducing the chances that your vehicle, or property in it, may be stolen.

  • When temporarily leaving your vehicle, never leave it running or with the keys in the ignition.
  • Always lock your car and roll up the windows, even if it is in your driveway. If you have a garage, park your car in it, and close and lock the garage door.
  • Park in busy, well-lit areas.
  • When purchasing auto stereo equipment, choose items that can be removed and locked in the trunk.
  • When using valet parking or taking your car in for repairs, leave only the ignition key with the attendant.
  • Turn your wheels sharply toward the curb when parking since this makes it extra difficult for thieves to tow the vehicle. Always use your emergency brake, and leave the transmission in park or in gear.
  • Look into various antitheft devices for your auto. Ask about auto insurance discounts for antitheft devices, including alarms and window etchings.


Copyright © 2008 International Risk Management Institute, Inc.


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Burglar Proof Your Home

U.S. 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 your 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.
  • As 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. 

Copyright © 2008 International Risk Management Institute, Inc.

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Reduce Exposure to Residential Fire Losses

In most years, fire is the largest single cause of property loss in the United States. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are approximately 400,000 home fires in the United States each year. Residential fires kill several thousand Americans each year and average $5 billion to $6 billion in property damage annually. There are numerous steps, however, you can take to reduce your exposure to this deadly peril, including the following.

  • Smoke alarms should be installed in various parts of your home, including bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchens. Homes with smoke alarms typically have a fire-related death rate that is 40 percent to 50 percent less than the rate in homes without alarms.
  • Fire extinguishers should be kept in the garage, kitchen, and on each floor of the house. The potency of these extinguishers should be checked on a semiannual basis.
  • If you are about to build a new home, consider the installation of a sprinkler system. These systems have proven to be very effective in suppressing most fires before the fire department arrives. In addition, they normally add only about 1 percent to the cost of a new home and last for the life of the home.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended. Fires often start when children, adults, and pets inadvertently overturn candles.
  • Properly maintain your clothes dryer, which is a big cause of fires in the United States. The dryer vent should be kept clean, the lint screen should be removed and cleaned after each use, and a qualified technician should periodically inspect gas clothes dryers.

Copyright © 2008 International Risk Management Institute, Inc.


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The Importance of Fire Extinguishers

According to a National Fire Protection Association study, there are approximately 400,000 house fires each year in the United States, which account for 75 percent of all structure fires. This study also indicated that residential fires result in over 3,700 deaths per year. Indeed, fires typically kill more Americans than all other natural disasters combined. Operational fire extinguishers in the home can go a long way to reduce these losses. 

Having properly placed fire extinguishers in your home is an excellent loss control measure that targets the most common cause of property loss.

Before purchasing fire extinguishers, learn about the different types of fire extinguishers. There are four basic types, as follows.

  •  Class A extinguishers put out fires in ordinary combustibles, such as wood and paper.
  • Class B extinguishers should be used on fires involving flammable liquids, such as grease, gasoline, and oil.
  • Class C extinguishers are suitable for electrically energized fires.
  • Class D extinguishers should be used on flammable metals and are typically specific for the type of metal in question.

The following are some tips concerning this important fire protection device.

  • Most home fire safety experts recommend medium-size, multipurpose fire extinguishers that are labeled as suitable for use on Class A, Class B, and Class C fires.
  • A fire extinguisher should be kept in your garage, kitchen, and on each floor of your home.
  • You and other potential users in your household should thoroughly read the extinguisher's instructions on a periodic basis.
  • A professional fire equipment supplier should inspect each extinguisher annually.

Copyright © 2008 International Risk Management Institute, Inc.


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Be Aware of Flood and Water Damage Risk

Water damage from naturally occurring floods and mechanical breakdowns causes extensive and catastrophic losses to homes every year. But there are numerous ways you can safeguard your home from these losses.

  • Your home's drainage system should be checked to verify that proper water drainage occurs. For example, gutter downspouts should extend the proper distance from the foundation.
  • Your yard should be properly graded to slope away from your home to allow surface water to adequately drain. French drains can also assist in this process.
  • A sump pump system should be considered in your basement to keep unwanted water out of this vulnerable part of your home.
  • Periodically check your washing machine hoses since these hose failures cause millions of dollars of water losses each year. Hoses should be replaced at the first sign of wear. Consider upgrading to the heavy-duty wire mesh hoses or stainless steel hoses during this replacement.
  • Ascertain the location of your main water shutoff valve. Water shutoff valves should be installed on water lines under toilets and sinks and water lines leading to outside faucets.

Copyright © 2008 International Risk Management Institute, Inc.


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Exercise Caution With Your ATV

Over 16 million Americans enjoy the experience of operating an all-terrain vehicle (ATV). Unfortunately, approximately 600 people die each year and nearly 122,000 are injured each year due to ATV accidents. Injuries and accidents are particularly common for children under age 16. In order to reduce the chance of loss, please consider the following tips if you own or operate an ATV.

  • Verify with your insurance agent that you have proper liability and physical damage coverage. A specialized ATV policy often offers the broadest protection.
  • Most ATVs are designed for only one person, so children should not take on passengers or be passengers on their parent's ATV.
  • ATVs should not be driven on paved roads. Because of how they are designed, ATVs are difficult to control on paved roads. Collisions with other vehicles on the road can prove fatal.
  • ATV operators should never drive an ATV without a helmet. Wearing a certified motorcycle helmet can dramatically decrease the chances of a head injury while operating the ATV.
  • All operators should complete a "hands on" ATV training course. A single class is estimated to be equal to 1 year of experience. Reputable ATV dealers often provide these classes free of charge to their customers.

Copyright © 2008 International Risk Management Institute, Inc.


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Restoring Your Good Name

Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the United States, according to the Federal Trade Commission. This crime can result in myriad problems for your clients. Pass along the following tips to assist your clients in the event that their identity is stolen.

Identity theft continues to grow in the United States. The odds of having an identity stolen are comparable to having a piece of personal property stolen—pretty amazing for a crime that was nearly nonexistent in the late 1970s. This crime has grown so rapidly that nearly every person in the United States has experienced some type of identity theft or personally knows an identity theft victim.

You should take a variety of measures to protect your identity, such as giving out your key personal information to only reputable companies and not placing any outgoing mail in your mailbox. But what should you do if, despite your best efforts, your identity is stolen? The following steps will help you regain your good name.

  1. Contact the "Big Three" credit bureaus, including Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You should ask them to place a "fraud alert" on your account.
  2. You should file a report with the local police. This will help you deal with creditors who need proof of the crime.
  3. You need to contact all creditors, credit card companies, banks, and other lenders and close any accounts tampered with or opened fraudulently.
  4. Notify your bank regarding check theft and close the account immediately.
  5. Complete the ID Theft Affidavit available through the Federal Trade Commission's website.
  6. Obtain legal advice if you are unable to properly restore your identity. Victims can contact the American Bar Association for assistance in finding an attorney who specializes in identity theft issues or consumer law.
  7. Organize the repair process by keeping meticulous records. With total dedication to organization, the restoration process is more easily accomplished.

Copyright © 2008 International Risk Management Institute, Inc.


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Holiday Safety

How Safe Are Your Holiday Decorations?

Each year, holiday season fires in the United States claim the lives of more than 500 people, injure 2,200 more, and cause more than $500 million in damage, according to the American Red Cross's "Holiday Home Fires Fact Sheet." And the top 3 days for home candle fires are Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. Yet, there are simple lifesaving steps you can take to ensure a safe and happy holiday. By following some of these precautionary tips, you can greatly reduce your chances of becoming a holiday fire casualty.

Christmas trees. When buying a live tree, make sure the needles are green. The needles should not break if the tree is freshly cut. If you bounce the tree on the ground and needles fall off, the tree is too dry and should not be used. When you put the tree up in your home, be sure to keep it away from heat sources. Don't put it up too early, and don't leave it up for more than 2 weeks. Always be sure that it has plenty of water. When you take the tree down, do not burn it in the fireplace. Recycle it or have it hauled away by a community pickup service.

Holiday lights. Before using your lights, inspect them for bare spots or frayed wires, and use only lights that a testing lab has approved. Be sure not to overload your circuits; the best way to do this is to avoid stringing together more than three strands of lights. And never leave your holiday lights on when you are away from your home.

Holiday decorations. All holiday decorations should be flame resistant. Be sure to place them away from heat sources. You should not burn wrapping paper in your fireplace. Such a fire may throw off sparks or produce a chemical buildup that could cause an explosion.

Candles. Always place candles in steady holders where they cannot be easily knocked over, and do not go out of the house with candles burning inside. If you do use candles during the holidays, be sure to have a fire extinguisher nearby. And never use candles near a flammable source, such as paper or curtains.

Smoke alarms. December is an excellent time to change the batteries in your smoke alarm, which should be done annually. If your smoke alarm is hardwired into the home's electrical system, be sure that it is working.

Copyright © 2016 International Risk Management Institute, Inc.


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Going to Canada?

Ask us for a Canadian ID card. "A U.S. traveler in Canada is required to carry a motor vehicle liability card, plus vehicle ownership papers. A copy of the automobile policy is recommended to be carried. And a Canadian Non-Resident Inter-provincial Motor Vehicle Liability Card is strongly recommended. U.S. travelers who do not carry a Canadian Non-Resident Inter-provincial Motor Vehicle Liability Card and are stopped by Canadian police or are in an accident while driving in Canada risk being fined or having their vehicle impounded until proof of proper coverage is obtained."